Italian Fashion Week Makes a Statement

After writing the last blog post on Marc Jacobs, Italy’s Fashion Week in Milan illustrated the other end of the spectrum with a collective strategic statement on both American politics and the next stage of women’s equality. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi kicked off Fashion Week by saying, “We’re all looking at what will happen, and we will be available to welcome the new President of America—whoever she may be.” The review of the collections revealed how fashion can support the changing role of women and insights as women seek power in politics and business.

A Shift in Fashion from Power through Sex to Self-Confidence with Power
In her New York Times article,  journalist Vanessa Friedman offered this very insightful comment on the Milan Fashion Week: “It crystallized a shift in emphasis from clothes that communicate power-through-sex to power-through-self-confidence. It’s a pretty significant change, and probably not coincidental.”  

The designers’ cooperative approach to selling products sent a compelling and impressive message to their customers, industry and the political stage. Designers including Bottega Veneta, Versace, Jill Sanders and Marni all showed clothing lines that set a tone for the commercial markets of what stylish woman leaders can wear in government, professional careers and as business leaders. Versace was quoted as saying it is “time for a woman to take the lead.” Real dresses without cut outs were showcased along with suits with big shoulders in pin-stripe fabrics and stylish boomer jackets

Confidence to Lead is Not Quite There
The progression of women seeking self-empowerment to women confidently seeking power in government and industry is a major shift that U.S. women have not fully embraced.  A recent study by the New York Times indicated that while women are pleased about a woman running for President, they are still not seeking leadership at the same rate men do. About one in two men want a leadership role in government and business. About 40% of Black women but only 25% of White women want leadership roles in government and business. Statistics for Latina, Asian and other women were not provided. 

Confidence, as we all know, comes from more than clothes. Women and people of color will be the majority of small business owners by 2018, per the U.S. Census. In business, women can gain confidence and stature by doing more to manage and develop products that are relevant to the majority of the population. In addition, we can expand distribution to more communities which benefit the larger economy.

To aid in these efforts, I am finally (after years of careful refinement) rolling out my value-creation decision and implementation frameworks. The Great Decisions Framework™ (GDF) and the Seeing Solutions Map™ (SSM) are strategic thinking and action frameworks that have been taught to over a thousand graduate students and used with hundreds of managers and business owners over twenty years. This rollout will include webinars to be released in October, ongoing half-day workshops starting in December, and eight-week implementation programs in 2017.

If you have questions contact me at