VICELAND, the new television network from indie global news & culture giant, Vice, has taken over what was the History2/H2 channel to present a view of the world from a new generation’s eyes. Namely, my generation: the kids who grew up with endless information at their fingertips, leaving them with no reason to let other people make decisions for them. You can’t tell them what to do, and you can’t keep them out of restricted areas, physically or culturally. Nothing is off limits because… why should it be?
One of the best parts about VICELAND is their acknowledgement and respect for the arts, which proudly includes fashion. At Vice HQ, you’ll find fashion designers sitting next to executive chefs sitting next to pro skateboarders, and they’re all working on creating the best representation of a particular craft. The all-encompassing view of arts and culture feels very inclusive which makes it seem like, for the first time, we’re really getting unbiased, comprehensive information.
Take their new documentary series, States of Undress, for example: 26 year old Hailey Gates, a former model for Miu Miu, Target, and current cast member of the newly-revived Twin Peaks, travels all over the world discovering the fashion cultures in countries and cities that are typically hidden from fashion media.
“Made it to Siberia.” – Hailey Gates’ Instagram
In the first episode of States of Undress, Gates travels to Karachi Fashion Week in Pakistan and gives an in-depth, immersive view of fashion, including challenges to the textile industry (Pakistan is the fourth largest producer of cotton), booze bootleggers, and dozens of stunning Pakistani garments. Many political issues that touch the fashion industry of the middle east are confronted, from the treatment of women to the role of religion on the runway.
She even sits down super-conservative cleric and ISIS supporter, Abdul Aziz Ghazi, who is forced to stay in a secret hiding place away from the city. The interview is notably bizarre to a atheistic westerner like me, especially the part where Aziz ends up showing Gates clips from Planet Earth dubbed with new religious narration.
So, in short: States of Undress could not possibly be more interesting. And it is full of fashion! – which feels like a bonus after all of the beautiful images of Pakistan and the intensely rich culture of the people who live there.
For many countries in the world, fashion is more of a political statement than a luxury indulgence. Women choosing to display their beauty and allow themselves to be noticed are frequently punished in really extreme and devastating ways. States of Undress bravely looks at this cruel phenomenon in depth from all angles – including the perspective of a man who threw acid in the face of his wife because he endured ridicule due her decisions to wear current fashions, expose her body, and cut her hair.
I won’t tell you that this show is always easy to watch; some parts are blissful and beautiful while others reveal an incredibly scary part of humanity… But I will tell you that it’s almost impossible to stop watching.
This show explores the relationship between fashion and culture in a way that leaves previous attempts in the dust. Throughout the “investigative fashion docuseries,” Hailey Gates will travel to and explore the fashion cultures in Venezuela, Russia, Palestine, China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. If you’ve ever watched a fashion show and felt like it was dumbing you down, States of Undress will undoubtedly fix that for you.
Best of all, you can find full episodes of States of Undress on VICELAND’s website and also on the VICELAND YouTube channel, though only the Pakistan episode is available on YouTube right now. Here’s the first episode if you can’t possibly wait:
Top photo from VICELAND, all other photos from Hailey Gates’ Instagram