Women don’t need to be empowered, what they need is for the world to stand back and get out of their way. As a highly-regarded fashion and art historian, a brilliant author, and the Denver Art Museum’s Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art and Curator of Fashion, no one needs to remind Florence Müller.
Müller, a French native, brings to Denver a world-class resumé, having worked on major international exhibitions, including Dior, the New look Revolution, Yves Saint Laurent Style, Impressions Dior, Costume Jewelry for Haute Couture, Belles en Vogue, Inspiration Dior, Mode et Art, Madeleine Vionnet, Mode et Libertés and many others in Europe, Asia and beyond.
But what do internationally famed achievements, and a globally respected career mean to a world obsessed with redacted stories of female success and the false expectations of accompanying opulence? Müller and I jumped off the high-dive into the complex and expansive discourse of what it truly means to be a powerful and successful woman, in a world run by men, whose job it is to curate a critical narrative of an industry glossed over by glamour. The short answer–it means a whole lot of hard work.
“Women are still in a [queue French accent] phase ascendant,” critiques Müller as we discussed women and society's constant demand for them to prove themselves. “Nothing is easy for a woman. Of course, that puts in a position of having to be very creative and full of energy; it gives them a lot of strength, but nothing is easy.”
Müller recounts the years of labor, days that end at 4 a.m., finishing a book a year only to start the next, and on top of that, inventing her own career as a fashion curator, something that has never really existed before.
People tend to see this work filled with glamour, a dream job, but fashion is one of the most difficult things to achieve, she recounted. In a museum setting, to maintain the original sense of the garment, to make it look beautiful, all the while conveying the historical and sociological intellect behind it is excruciating and laborious at best.
Müller described stories of macho-minded thinkers coming up to her after an exhibition, apologizing for how they condescended fashion. Her work exposed them to the real power of the oldest, most influential industry in the world.
And that, for Florence Müller, is a job well done. It is proof that this work can make an impact, proof that paving the road for women rewriting critical narratives can make an impact, and proof that the world ‘ought to get out of her way.
Side Bar on the Illustrator:
Olga Zadoroznaja is driven by creating art with different styles and media—oil, watercolor, markers, mixed-media. Today, she's working on abstract oil painting, tomorrow it might be a quick fashion sketch and the day after—a realistic landscape. Sharing the mood of colors, energy of brush strokes and the passion of her life.