One hot topic doing the rounds again and again recently is gender, and its ever-developing role in fashion. After Kanye West sported full-on Celine womenswear at Coachella, needless to say looking great, fashion blogs near and far have been questioning whether gender-neutral is the way forward. Personally, I think it’s already here, it has subtly swept over the fashion world and only now are people starting to sit up take notice.
Gender’s role really came to the forefront a couple of months back when the ultra-feminine transgender model, Andrej Pejic, walked down the runway for Jean Paul Gaultier in that wedding dress. The media soared into outrage and shock, Amanda Platell from the Daily Mail even claimed that “it is the fashion mafia trying to strip women of their feminity.” Not only that, but it apparently adds to the appeal of size zero and the way female models are made to look more like young men.
Yes, Andrej may be size zero, but so are ¾ of the other catwalk models, and my gosh, doesn’t he make a beautiful woman? It’s really not his fault that he has beautifully defined cheekbones. Personally, I’d hardly say a feminine-looking gent is stripping us of our womanhood, in fact, I can see it as the polar opposite; the defined cheekbones, slender figure, the long lashes, the fact Andrej wants to appear this way; it is an ode to being a woman.
As for the size zero debate in this topic, of course the models are stick thin with no curves, however the simple bottom-line reason is what it always has been: clothes of any shape and style just suit stick thin people. No, it doesn’t make it right, but it is what it is and it doesn’t mean we are all going to be anorexic.
Forbes released its highest earning models list this month and ironically, it was the classic, curvier supermodels, Gisele Bunchen and Heidi Klum, who topped it. Plus, there are still hundreds of looks, especially in this season, which suit a curvier figure. Think of the 50’s looks, the empire line maxis, the draping details and midi lengths; all of these adhere to curves.
Look further afield and it’s easy to observe that genders are indeed blending into one. French Connection’s current campaign- ‘You are man. You are woman’, is all aimed to take down the boundaries between the sexes, with elegantly dressed ladies riding horses like men, and a rugged male in a purple polo, cuddling a kitten. H&M have also followed suit, with the soundtrack, ‘I’m a man’, and models dressed androgynously.
Not only in marketing, but society in general have barriers been brought down, if we think about it. It is common for the woman to be the breadwinner in a family, for a man to be a stay-at-home parent, to cook better than his wife or to even wear make up. In Russia, make up on a man is seen as a symbol of power and status.
So realistically, fashion is just responding to the times. Think back to around 50 years ago when Coco Chanel rocked trousers in public- she didn’t care back then, so why should we criticise a man for doing it now? As Andrew Mukamal, sittings assistant at Seventeen commented, “It’s pretty simple. Women have more options. Their collections explore shapes, fabrics, prints, colour, proportions. Menswear collections don’t go there.”
If we ladies can wear an Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo suit ten times sexier than any man could, surely blokes can be entitled to wear a dress if they wish. It’s not like Alex Reid is stomping down the catwalk, anyway!