Benetton Group launches ‘Power her Choices’ campaign

A new global family planning campaign was launched today at The London Summit on Family Planning together with United Colors of Benetton and UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund. The campaign, named ‘Power Her Choices’, has been released globally in an attempt to protect women from unintended pregnancies.

“Millions of women and adolescent girls are still waiting for access to modern contraceptives,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA’s Acting Executive Director. “While we have reached thirty million more women over the past five years, thanks to the Family Planning 2020 initiative, we need to step up our commitments, expand our partnerships, and broaden our reach to ensure that no one is left behind.” The campaign is aiming to supply 120 million more women, focusing on those in developing nations, with access to modern contraception by 2020.

“Many girls, especially in developing countries, must be able to take control of their lives and have access to contraceptives,” stressed Carlo Tunioli, Fabrica’s Chief Executive Officer. “In 2016, an estimated 770,000 girls, some as young as ten years old, became mothers, with devastating effects on their health and future. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, up to 25 per cent of all young women leave school because of unintended pregnancies,” added spokesperson for UNFPA said in a press statement.

Benetton Group launches ‘Power her Choices’ campaign

Fabrica, Benetton Group’s research centre on communications, has produced campaign images, featuring a light bulb in the shape of the womb - ‘a metaphor of how the work of UNFPA can help spark a new awareness in young women worldwide,” said Tunioli.

Hoping to raise awareness about family planning and gain additional partners for this global commitment, the campaign also features photos of a light installation with phrases written in light bulbs such as ‘I am pregnant’, which are then revealed as ‘I am not ready to be pregnant’ once all the lightbulbs are on. Photos of the installation displaying various phrases will be posted on social media.

United Colors of Benetton, owned by Benetton Group, is one of the best-known fashion companies in the world. Using its global reach for good, the group lends ‘a watchful eye to the environment, to human dignity, and to a society in transformation’. The group has previously been involved in campaigns such as ‘UnitedByHalf’ which aims to promote gender equality in India.

UNFPA is the leading UN agency, working in 150 countries to deliver ‘a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled’.

Photos courtesy of Benetton Group

‘Christian Dior, Dream Couturier’ opens at Musée Les Arts Décoratifs

A huge show about the fabled French fashion house Christian Dior which opens Wednesday has had a galaxy of stars making the pilgrimage to Paris.

With Hollywood actresses Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and Kristen Stewart already in town for the label's haute couture show, Stewart's "Twilight" co-star Robert Pattinson queued with models Bella Hadid, Karlie Kloss and Cara Delevingne to get a sneak peak of the retrospective at the city's decorative arts museum.

While Dior -- celebrating its 70th anniversary -- has become synonymous with classy highly feminine glamour, fashion was not its founder's first love. Christian Dior came to clothes through art after setting up a Paris gallery to "champion the most avant garde of artists", said the exhibition's curator Olivier Gabet.

‘Christian Dior, Dream Couturier’ opens at Musée Les Arts Décoratifs

"It was he who gave Salvador Dali and Alberto Giacometti their first shows" in the French capital, he added. And it was his friendships with artists Jean Cocteau, Max Jacob and Pablo Picasso that helped sustain him through a difficult decade after his gallery closed in the Depression.

Dior, a talented artist, began designing theatre costumes and from there took his first steps into couture.


Hugely superstitious, he only made the final leap after a tarot reader told him he would head his own fashion house. Two years later in 1947 his "New Look" revolutionised fashion, throwing wartime austerity out the window, trailblazing a new femininity.

Tarot and astrological motifs would later become one of Dior's trademarks. Historian Florence Muller, who co-curated the show, said the "New Look" became "emblematic", with the show tracing how the six designers who came after Dior subtly adapted it -- and how rival houses still "reference" it to this day.

The spectacular exhibition -- which includes more than 300 haute couture gowns and dresses -- documents how Dior became the go-to brand for stars from Lauren Bacall to Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren. It also reveals that Dior named his famous Bar suit after the bar of the Plaza Athenee hotel next to his headquarters on Avenue Montaigne between the Champs Elysee and the River Seine.

Ever the artist, Dior spent much of his time in the country drawing, leaving the nitty gritty to Marguerite Carre, who headed his studio. "I think of my work as ephemeral architecture dedicated to the beauty of the female body," he said.

It was, however, to prove far from ephemeral. When Dior died suddenly at the age of 52 from a heart attack in 1957 his mantle fell on his timid young assistant Yves Saint Laurent, who was only 21 at the time.

Yet in his very first collection Saint Laurent invented the "trapeze dress" which became a runaway success, and he was quickly dubbed the "little prince of fashion". However, the leather jackets of his "beatnik" show were just too much for some of the brand's conservative clientele and he was bundled out the door in 1960.

'Forgotten man'

He was replaced by Marc Bohan, who despite running the house for a record 29 years, became the "forgotten man" of Dior, according to Muller. "The extravagance of his successors Gianfranco Ferre and John Galliano overshadowed a lot of what he did," said Muller even though his "Slim Look" exemplified by models such as Twiggy was highly successful.

Ferre brought an exuberance back to the label in the 1980s with flowers, feathers and rich embroidery while Gibraltar-born Galliano -- then fashion's punk rebel -- brought a strong dose of British eccentricity and theatricality, she added.

"Even so Galliano had a strong connection linking him with Dior in his vision of strong femininity, with tight waists and ample hips," she told AFP. The Belgian Raf Simons stepped up to the mark in 2012 after Galliano was sacked following a drunken rant in a Paris cafe.

Muller said the show demonstrates that Simons' work was less minimalist than his reputation might suggest. "You can get the impression it's quite simple but close up you can see the complexity," she said citing organza cut by laser and a dress make entirely of tiny feathers.

The exhibition ends with the Italian Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior's first female artistic director who took the reins last year. "This exhibition is not just about Dior. It is about women in every era which is fascinating for me," she said. "Christian Dior, Maker of Dreams" runs until January 7. (AFP)

Photos: Alain Jocard, AFP
Celebrating Dior’s 70th Anniversary at Musée Les Arts DécoratifsIN PICTURE

In the midst of Paris Couture week, the Musée Les Arts Décoratifs will open the doors to their largest retrospective dedicated to fashion, marking the 70th anniversary of the House of Dior.

‘Christian Dior, Dream Couturier’ is spread over 32,000 square feet and was designed by interior architect, Nathalie Crinière. Featuring 300 haute couture gowns, along with documents such as photographs, sketches, illustrations, letters and advertising - the exhibition follows the Haute Couture house from opening in 1947 to Maria Grazia Chiuri’s artistic direction in 2017. The exhibition was inaugurated by the French fashion house at the end of Chiuri’s autumn/winter 17/18 Paris show yesterday afternoon and will be opened for the public on Wednesday.

Celebrating Dior’s 70th Anniversary at Musée Les Arts Décoratifs

The exhibition explores how the six artistic directors that succeeded Christian Dior have continued to shape the couture house - with six galleries in succession dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre, John Galliano, Raf Simons and today Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Oliver Gabet, Director at Les Arts Décoratifs curated the exhibition with Florence Müller, who worked on ‘Espirit Dior’ in Beijing, 2012. Gabet told WWD that “the idea was to show that the universe of the Christian Dior house is extremely sophisticated and cultivated, drawing inspiration from many different sources”.

Celebrating Dior’s 70th Anniversary at Musée Les Arts Décoratifs

The extensive exhibition borrows many unseen artefacts from the Dior Héritage archive as well as from museums and galleries including The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent.

“One of the purposes of this exhibition is for people to really understand the level of detail that goes into these haute couture creations, because they go by too fast in a catwalk show, which very few people attend, and it doesn’t come across in photographs,” Müller noted.

Celebrating Dior’s 70th Anniversary at Musée Les Arts Décoratifs

The exhibition begins with a classic gown from 1947 - representing Dior’s ‘New Look’ - the silhouette that created the post-war ideal of an hourglass figure. Continuing through the six successors designs, with stand out pieces including Galliano’s full-length python dress with accompanying Egyptian death mask.

The retrospective comes to end with Maria Grazia Chiuri’s defining pieces. Which she added to in her haute couture show on Monday in the garden of Paris’s Hôtel des Invalides - paying homage to female explorers such as the aviator Amy Johnson with a one piece shearling flying suit.

Photos: Alain Jocard, AFP

Calvin Klein's chief creative officer Raf Simons just released a passion project. Collaborating with musicians The XX, Simons also worked with filmmaker Alasdair McLellan on the creative concept for the video.

As Simons is known for his creativity, he has helped lead the Calvin Klein brand. His motivation for working with The XX came from his admiration of the band's work with past music videos such as "On Hold" and "Say Something Loving." In order to create the third piece of the trilogy, Simons worked to add atmospheric elements and also incorporating a cast of Calvin Klein collaborators.

With his work on sophisticated silhouettes, Simons heads towards the music industry for this collaboration. "For Simons, L.A. is a place of high art, everyday unreality, as well as the stage set for all of our favorite high school melodramas," according to the Calvin Klein website. The "I Dare You" music video Simons collaborated on was filmed in Los Angeles and is currently featured in the men's Spring 2017 Calvin Klein Underwaer advertising campaign. The video debuted today on June 29 and is available now on Youtube.

Cultural Appropriation could soon be Illegal

Representatives of over 180 different indigenous cultures recently called upon the United Nations (UN) to outlaw cultural appropriation in fashion at a meeting in Geneva. Should their calls be heard, the fashion industry will need to start thinking twice about its use of designs from around the world as it has traditionally been perceived as public enemy number one when it comes to misuse of others’ cultural property.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a United Nations agency, is being asked by a special committee to bring in "effective criminal and civil enforcement procedures" to stop companies commercializing others’ cultures.

Cultural Appropriation could soon be Illegal

The Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore has been working since 2001 to bring about such protection for cultures. The recent 34th Session has resulted in a draft document which they hope will be adopted and would mean backing for any culture/community wanting to take legal action against or needing help in matters of intellectual property rights.

Cultural Appropriation – What’s all the Fuss About?

Cultural appropriation has become a bit of a hot topic over the past few years. When you have the likes of Katie Perry and Pharrell Williams being publicly lambasted for it, you know that it has some gravitas in the public eye.

Opinions are divided. On one side of the extreme, some say we should all be able to use, borrow, be inspired by and take from other cultures as we like. At the other end, some voices say we should never ever use anything from a culture, not of our own. In the middle, the recognition is that when talking about ‘cultural appropriation’ it is very specific in that it refers to taking from another culture, using it for your own gain, slapping your own interpretation on that culture and commercializing it without any tip of a hat or financial contribution to the culture.

It is the latter interpretation that the committee is trying to protect cultures from.

Fashion and Cultural Appropriation – Public Enemy Number One

Although there are plenty of examples from outside of fashion, such as ripping off Hindu holy festivals or stereotyping of Asian culture by food bloggers, it is, without a doubt, the fashion industry that tops the charts when it comes to examples of cultural appropriation. High-street fashion retailer Top Shop recently caused outrage for using the Palestinian black and white scarf design for a new summer dress. The “keffiyeh” has very strong associations with Palestinian history, culture, and politics. Seeing their identity turned into a pretty dress drew extremely harsh criticism which led to Top Shop pulling the item.

Then there is luxury fashion house Chanel, who included a boomerang in their spring-summer 2017 catalog. The ‘luxury’ boomerang priced at 2,000 dollars quickly resulted in a backlash from Aboriginal groups in Australia who were angered over their cultural property being branded and sold with no recognition of their rights. The company defended the continued sale of the boomerang arguing it had sold them since 2006.

Designer Roberto Cavalli found himself dealing with protestors at fashion events and an organized social media campaign against him when he used a little known sacred symbol from a group of Muslim mystics. Some 500,000 students of the Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi (MTO) Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism realized he had pilfered the symbol and made sure the world knew about it.

Kokon to Zai (KTZ) a UK-based label was called out for blatant cultural appropriation by the great-granddaughter of the one of the last Shaman of the Canadian Inuit. Salome Awe noticed her grandfather’s garments from 1922, captured in a photo, had essentially been copied by the designers. The company defended its actions as “appreciation”.

“Appreciation” or “Appropriation”?

The massive gray areas that exist in the cultural appropriation debate at present leads to an inconsistent response where it is called out. Some companies defend their actions, others backtrack, others don’t know what to do. The reason being that no clear lines exist in law or statute.

It may be that this is about to change in the future. Should this be the case then the fashion industry needs to start thinking about how to work with the cultures they are inspired by, how to share benefits and how to promote a sustainable future for all.

Can the fashion industry perhaps agree on a best practice when it comes to 'cultural appreciation'? One aligned with potential new international laws as well as with, it seems growing public opinion on what is acceptable when it comes to commercializing others' cultures.

Written by Neil Payne, an expert in cross-cultural communication at Commisceo Global – a training company specialising in culture and business. When he isn’t working you can find him in the greenhouse.

Homepage Photo: Valentino Spring/Summer 2016 ad campaign, by Steve McCurry

In Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibition

The Museum of Lace and Fashion in Calais, France has opened a retrospective on Hubert de Givenchy, curated by the 90-year-old fashion designer, featuring looks worn by the likes of Audrey Hepburn, former First Lady Jackie Kennedy and the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson.

In Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibition

The exhibition is part of the museum’s 2017 cultural programme and features eighty outfits and accessories that have been sourced from private collectors, the archives of the House of Givenchy and museum collections, as well as Givenchy pieces held by the Museum of Lace and Fashion.

In Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibition

Everything in the exhibition, which runs until December 31, has been chosen and curated by de Givenchy himself, to showcase the couturier's entire career and the “encounters” that marked his life and shaped his designs.

In Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibition

There is a focus on the leading ladies that wore his collections, including actress Audrey Hepburn, with a number of display cases dedicated to her, showcasing the dresses worn by the star in two of her greatest film roles Breakfast at Tiffany’s and How to Steal a Million.

In Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibition

Museum of Lace and Fashion opens Givenchy exhibition

There are also dresses worn by his other famous clientele on display including Jackie Kennedy’s embroidered dress and opera coat worn for her husband’s first presidential visit to France and the Duchess of Windsor’s outfit worn to the funeral of her husband, as well as pieces worn by Countess Isabelle de Borchgrave d'Altena, the Duchess of Cadaval, and the Marquesa de Llanzol.

In Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibition

Speaking at the opening, to The Guardian the designer praised his clients, he said: “They were my friends. The perfect dress can make many things happen in a woman’s life. It can bring happiness. It is so nice to give happiness to your friends.”

In Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibition

Other key pieces includes the ‘Bettina’ blouse from his first collection in February 1952, which features puff sleeves and black broderie Anglaise, a number of ball gowns featuring lace embroidery, a red satin dress and coat, and an embroidered trouser suit.

In Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibition

The outfits are displays alongside couture textile swatches, archive Givenchy fragrances, and photographs to give insight into de Givenchy’s career and inspirations.

In Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibition

The Museum of Lace and Fashion is located inside a nineteenth-century lace factory and showcases couturiers and renowned young designers including Cristóbal Balenciaga, Anne Valérie Hash, Iris Van Herpen, and On Aura Tout Vu within its contemporary galleries dedicated to design in textiles and fashion.

In Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibition

The Hubert de Givenchy exhibition runs at the Museum for Lace and Fashion in Calais until December 31, 2017.

In Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibitionIn Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibitionIn Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibitionIn Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibitionIn Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibitionIn Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibitionIn Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibitionIn Pictures: Hubert de Givenchy’s eponymous exhibition

Images: courtesy of the Museum of Lace and Fashion

'Trad is swag' in Africa's fashion capital, Lagos

Leggy dancers in tight shorts, bottles of Moet champagne and flashy cars feature in Nigerian pop icon Wizkid's bling-bling music videos. But the singer himself has now swapped the Versace T-shirts and low-slung jeans that show his underwear for traditional African dress -- a new youth trend in fashion hub Lagos.

Last year, Vogue voted Wizkid "Nigeria's best-dressed pop singer", a particularly coveted and prestigious title in a country where appearance is all important and competition is fierce.

Clothing that used to be considered only for the old or for people out in the provinces is setting the trend in fashion, from the Yoruba agbada, a large, triple-layered robe worn in the southwest, to the Igbo "Niger Delta" embroidered collarless shirt from the south, and the northern Hausa babariga, a long tunic worn with an embroidered asymmetrical hat.

In recent years, this traditional clothing -- or "trad" as it's dubbed -- can be seen in offices as well as nightclubs, and at weddings and business meetings. "It's the in-thing now," Wizkid told Vogue magazine. "When I'm back home, all I wear is African fabrics. I get material from different parts of Nigeria -- north, west, south -- and I mix it up," said the 26-year-old superstar.

Lack of space in Lagos, a sprawling megacity of 20 million inhabitants, has meant there are few shopping centres and ready-to-wear clothing stores are hard to find. Economic recession and the free fall of the naira currency has put paid to wealthy Nigerians' shopping sprees in Dubai, Paris and Milan. Instead, they've had to make do with what's on offer locally, sending the popularity of roadside tailors soaring.

'Trad is swag'

In 2012, Omobolaji Ademosu, known as B.J., left his job in a bank to set up his own line of men's clothing, Pro7ven. In two tiny workshops in Ojodu, on the outskirts of Lagos, his dozen employees cut, sew and iron a series of orders to the sound of a diesel generator.

B.J. calls his style "African contemporary". His work includes magnificent made-to-measure agbadas with embroidered collars, which can sell for up to 150,000 naira ($475, 420 euros) each. "Trad is swag," smiled B.J.

"Any day, I can switch from Yoruba to Igbo to Fulani, I'm rocking it! It's the Lagos spirit, there is no barrier, we are one." When attending professional meetings in business and politics, dressing in the ethnic outfit of your host is a sign of respect that can really pay off -- or at least win big contracts.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's election campaign in 2015, for example, featured him in a variety of traditional outfits from across the country. With more than 500 ethnic groups, Nigeria is able to draw from a huge catalogue of fabrics, styles and jewellery. The beauty of each ethnic look is a source of pride, which has begun to extend beyond Nigeria's borders.

In early May, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, a spokesman for South Africa's Economic Freedom Fighters party, posted a picture of himself on Instagram, dressed in a dark "Niger Delta" outfit, complete with wide-brimmed hat and gemstone necklace. His numerous and enthusiastic female fans were quick to comment with emoji hearts, affectionately calling him "Igwe" -- an Igbo prince.

Retained 'African pride'

"Even in Paris, young people from the diaspora want to present themselves as African princes now," said Nelly Wandji, owner of MoonLook, an African fashion boutique in the upmarket Rue du Faubourg St-Honore.

"Nigeria is clearly the leader in fashion in terms of style, creativity and number of recognised designers," she said on a recent visit to Lagos. "Lagos Fashion Week has dethroned Johannesburg. Nigerians have remained much more authentic, they have retained 'African pride', whereas South Africa is very Europeanised."

Wandji, who is French of Cameroonian heritage, said the fashion trend was due to the African diaspora, of which Nigerians were the main ambassadors by sheer weight of numbers.

"Young people from the diaspora are the drivers of African fashion, they have reappropriated their culture and made it trendy because it's seen in Europe or the United States," she said.

Gloria Odiaka, a petite woman in her 50s, is the successful owner of a luxury traditional fabric shop in Lekki, a well-heeled Lagos neighbourhood. "The young generation are into native wear and they look gorgeous," she said.

"My sons study in Canada and when I go visit them they say, 'Please, Mommy, buy us some trads, I'm done with Canadian T-shirts'," she said with a laugh. (AFP)

Photo Credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei / AFP

The Zac Posen documentary, House of Z, which made its world premiere in April at Tribeca, has been acquired by Conde Nast Entertainment and will be distributed to rent on Vogue.com.

Directed by Sandy Chronopoulos, the fashion feature-length film chronicles the fashion career of Zac Posen, starting from his meteoric rise at the age of 21 to the glamour behind one of New York’s most distinguished brands.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Conde Nast Entertainment will distribute House of Z exclusively for rent on Vogue.com in September to coincide with New York Fashion Week.

“We see [Vogue.com] as the perfect fit for our audience while also giving us a chance to attract new viewers,” Dawn Ostroff, president of Condé Nast Entertainment told the Hollywood Reporter. “House of Z is a wonderful film and being able to exclusively provide it to our audience is a great opportunity for Condé Nast and we are very pleased to be working with Zac, Sandy and the iDeal team.”

The documentary showcases the ups and downs of his fashion label through archival material and interviews with Posen’s past and present team, as well as critics, journalists, fashion insiders and celebrities, such as André Leon Talley, Paz de la Huerta, Naomi Campbell, Claire Danes, and Sean “Diddy” Combs.

Christie’s to auction Audrey Hepburn's clothes

Christie’s in London will auction off pieces from Audrey Hepburn’s “extensive personal wardrobe” including fashion that exemplifies her signature look include a Burberry trench coat, ballet flats, and a dress designed by Hubert de Givenchy.

The collection currently under ownership of the Hepburn family will go on auction at Christie’s in London on September 27, alongside an online sale which will be open for bidding from September 19 until October 3.

“We are thrilled to have been entrusted with the sale of items from Audrey Hepburn’s personal collection,” said Adrian Hume-Sayer, director, private collections at Christie’s. “Her name is one that instantly resonates; her appeal and relevance remain as strong today as they ever were.”

Hume-Sayer added: “The sales will offer fans and collectors alike the opportunity to acquire unique personal objects which have never before been seen on the market and which will undoubtedly offer new insights into the remarkable life of a remarkable woman.”

The highlighted fashion piece to be featured in the auction is a blue satin Givenchy cocktail dress worn by the actress and fashion icon, which was featured in a photo shoot photographed by William Klein for a fashion editorial promoting Two for the Road in 1966. The dress has a starting estimate of between 10,000-15,000 pounds.

Audrey Hepburn fashion including a Givenchy dress to be auctioned

In December 2006 a black satin evening gown, designed by Hubert de Givenchy for Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, was sold at Christie’s South Kensington for 456,200 pounds. The dress, which had a pre-sale estimate of 50,000-70,000 pounds, set a new world record for an item associated with the star.

Other pieces in the auction includes photography from the actress’ personal archive including portraits by Bud Fraker, who was a stills photographer for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and wardrobe photographs for My Fair Lady together with personal portraits by Cecil Beaton, and dedicated prints of Hepburn for Vanity Fair by fashion photographer Steven Meisel.

The auction also features film memorabilia including Hepburn’s working scripts from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Charade.

Estimates for the auction starts at 100 pounds and range up to 80,000 pounds. The collection will also be on view to the public in an exhibition at Christie’s King Street, London from September 23.

Image: courtesy of Christie’s - Bud Fraker (1916-2002), Audrey Hepburn, circa 1957

New documentary exposes the harsh reality of factory workers

A new documentary has exposed the harsh reality and often cruel suffering of factory workers who make the garments of some of the world's best-known high street brands.

The film, called Machines, highlights the life of Jain, a factory worker in India. In the first 13 minutes of the film, there is no dialogue, with the camera captures the contrast between the giant machines, which guzzle up fabrics like robots, and then the workers who are no less mechanical in their working as they mix dyes, stoke furnaces and handle the fabrics.

Days are filled with dehumanising physical labour and hardship

Director Rahul Jain takes the viewers into the reality of the factory worker's world, capturing the exhaustive monotony of their tasks. The film examines the dehumanizing physical labor and hardship in the factory, exposes the pre-industrial working conditions and the huge divide between first world and developing countries. Though “Machines” only portrays one of these factories, it also represents the thousands of laborers as well.

New documentary exposes the harsh reality of factory workers

When there is dialogue, we hear from the workers themselves – and at one point from their fat-cat boss, who matter-of-factly tells the camera that he shouldn’t pay them so well as they’re much more dedicated to the business when their bellies are empty. By “so well” he means three US dollars per 12-hour shift and most of the workers take just one hour’s break between shifts, such are the financial pressures of providing for their families, states Dazed & Confused. The men discuss the need for unionisation and strike action, as well as the dead-end any attempt at this inevitably leads to – “the bosses just ask who the leader is, and then kills them,” the viewer is told.

Delhi-born, U.S.-educated director Rahul Jain captured the footage in Gujarat, India’s westernmost state. According to Variety, the results are surprising; while the visuals are hypnotic and frequently beautiful, the stories jar with our concepts of poverty in the modern age, as it is revealed that many of these workers are already in debt, having taken out travel loans to work 12-hour shifts and earn wages of just 7,000 rupees (approximately 100 Us dollars) per month.

Photo credit: Film still from Machines