Style Editor Ashleigh Stern tells of how she is finally able to embrace both intelligence and fashion
Intelligence is much more than just acing exams and having an extensive vocabulary. Intelligence is being an independent person with a strong sense of self. When I think of the word intelligence, the first word that comes to mind is confidence, closely followed by passion. These words are also both often attributed to fashion and style as it takes real confidence to express yourself through your individual style and a roaring passion to develop yourself. Women who look after their appearance are often stereotyped as ‘stupid’ or ‘non-academic’, which is outrageous and unfair assumption. There is literally no correlation between a women’s exterior and her ability and capacity to work. Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is not something that is in dresses only. Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” I don’t think there could be a better summary of our photoshoot; the style isn’t merely artificial but is a deep rooted art of expression and practicality. The models portray themselves through their style, and style doesn’t hold them back from their studies but enables them to think more freely to nourish their intelligence.
My passions in life have always been designing, styling, reading and writing, and I aspire to be a fashion journalist. I’ve always been academic throughout my school life and did well in my exams. However, I always felt that whenever I discussed my love for fashion people became disinterested and replied with ‘‘ahh that’s sweet’’, viewing me as ditzy rather than respecting me as a fellow academic. The more time went on, the more I stopped seeing myself as an intelligent women, but as merely a ‘creative’ and began to believe that as I had dropped the sciences I wasn’t deemed clever. However, when I received the grades to get into the university, I stopped to think about my opinion of intelligence and my love for fashion and finally once again viewed myself as an academic. I realised that whatever the subject area is, be it English, Medicine or Fine Art, if you work your best and push yourself you can be intelligent. My desire to design and write about fashion has led me to write some of my best essays. I was awarded full marks in an exam when I focused on how clothing in the novel is used to depict the characters and their social hierarchy. I’m inspired everyday by everything I see and I always use this creativity to express myself and show the world my intelligence.
What is an intelligent woman? Style Editor Beatrice Rae gives her opinion
It is often suggested that a woman may be stylish or intelligent, not both.
But why is it that an intelligent woman is often considered to have no interest in fashion, style and beauty? Must we be sorted into boxes of those who can think well and those who can dress well?
To me, an intelligent woman is a number of things. She is capable of intellectual thought, independence and a fulfilling career. She is also capable of expressing herself through fashion. Her coat is her armour, her shoes help her walk taller and her bag can keep her secrets. Fashion does not define her, it accentuates her.
Noted editor and “Fashion Empress”Diana Vreeland said “The only real elegance is in the mind; if you’ve got that, the rest really comes from it” suggesting that if a woman has brains, style follows naturally. In this shoot we wanted to break through stereotypes of what intelligence looks like in a woman. We created what we believe to be stylish and chic looks, accompanied by the beautiful architecture of the Brotherton Library, to remind people that a woman may be whatever she likes. She may be intelligent. She may be stylish. She may be both.
Photographer: Louise Aron