Photographer and artist Micol Sabbadini lives in Milan, Italy, but felt compelled to come to New York City for the first Women's March in 2017, the day after President Trump's inauguration. "I flew in from Milan especially to be in New York and participate in the Women's March," she said. "I knew I wanted to not only participate, but also to record the moment. Being a photographer it was a natural instinct." At the Women's March, Sabbadini was one of several female photographers who shot images for W, and now, those images appear on a collection of t-shirts from fashion label Zadig & Voltaire that just debuted at New York Fashion Week, and raise money for Every Mother Counts, Christy Turlington's non-profit that is dedicated to making pregnancy safe for all women around the world. Here, Sabbadini speaks about the impact fashion can have on politics, why the Women's March movement is as important as ever today, and how she stays hopeful about the future.
What inspired you to shoot these photos during the Women's March?
I flew in from Milan especially to be in New York and participate in the Women's March. I knew I wanted to not only participate, but also to record the moment. Being a photographer it was a natural instinct. I decided to use Polaroids, because I wanted a 'slower' medium that would allow me to interact with the people I photographed. Polaroids require you to stop your subject, to let them know you are taking their picture. It allows you to talk to them, to briefly get to them and to share a moment. Everyone I spoke with was so happy to participate, proud to be part of the movement.
The mood at the Women's March was hopeful, enthusiastic, positive and loving. I was incredibly inspired, amazed and filled with hope. The impact has been huge, I think; look at how powerful the Me Too movement is. People like Harvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly have been exposed and forced to step down from their roles. Women are starting to feel empowered to speak up about harassment and abuse. Although there is still a lot of work to do, the world is listening.
Some people are still just realizing how much we need to fix, and how much discrimination, racism, inequality still exist, so it’s essential that we keep the conversation going, and continue to take action. Today I am more determined than ever.
What from the past year gives you hope?
I am inspired, still, by Roy Moore losing the Alabama Senate Race because of how many women, specifically black women, came out to vote at the Alabama Senate election. They said no to sexual harassment, and proved that every single person can have a big impact. But, of course, there have been more disappointments than triumphs. The president's defense of an alleged domestic violence abuser working in a senior position in the White House comes to mind. We can no longer look to President of The United States for moral leadership and values, and that’s why it’s so important that we as individuals take action.
How can fashion help to advance the political dialogue that's happening in this country and around the world?
Fashion has a huge platform and a very loud voice, so the industry is in a unique position to talk about the issues and help people learn and get involved. It's an entry point for people who might not otherwise be interested in politics, even though it impacts their lives.
How did you end up collaborating with Zadig & Voltaire on this project?
I wanted a brand which was not afraid to speak about the issues and that would fit the mood of the Women’s March, and Zadig & Voltiare seemed the perfect match. I knew Cecilia [Bönström, Zadig & Voltaire's artistic director] had already done t-shirts with slogans that had a social message, and that she is active in many charities personally. The brand also sells in 47 countries, which means the project will reach a wide audience and allow women all over the world to be a part of it, which was very important to me.
All of the profits from this project go to the non-profit Every Mother Counts. How did you make the choice to help this organization?
Pregnancy is such a unique aspect to a women’s life, it’s one of the most precious and happy moment for a women and yet still today for many women it’s one of the toughest moments of their lives. So many women don’t have access to the medical care they need during pregnancy. In the world one women dies every two minutes from giving childbirth, 98% of these deaths are preventable and 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. Childbirth should be a magical moment for a woman, and for so many it’s not because of lack of medical assistance. And children are our future, and children need their mothers!
Did you know 66 million people in the USA do not have access to the medical care they need? There is actually a Senate Bill right now, bill 783 Improving Access To Maternity Care Act that is waiting to be passed that aims to help improve medical access to pregnant women in areas of shortage.
I am not a mom myself so I don’t know of that incredible bond that is formed during those nine months; but I am a daughter and I know how incredibly important my mom has been in my life. I know that without her love, her example, her support and her advice, I would most definitely not be half the woman I am today.