We see male models strutting the runaways in blue feather boas and fishnets, how much could the fashion industry (through its medium) break the gender stereotypes?
Fashion houses like Jeremy Scott, Calvin Klein, and Raf Simons are known for their clothing lines which blur the distinct gender stereotypes in fashion. In other words, the birth of unisex fashion apparel became a huge convention due to the androgynous, minimalist, and unrestrained aesthetic of such fashion houses.
The collection called “Le Smoking” by Yves Saint Laurent in 1966 marked a huge milestone in the history of the fashion industry by being instrumental in breaking gender stereotypes. During the same period, jean pants which were termed to be unisex acted as a catalyst in freeing the physical body and the realm of fashion from social roles and boundaries.
Raf Simons had his well-deserved fame as a men’s clothing line designer, but when he ventured out and designed for Calvin Klein the clothing line for male and female models was nearly identical.
The limelight was on gen-plaid suites, black leather jackets with silver rose cutouts, marching band pants, and old school varsity stripe motifs. Men and women were both dressed in sheer tops which were the epitome of transparency. Jean-Paul Gaultier put a male model in a skirt way back in 1984, and last year we had Jaden Smith, model and the son of Will smith wearing clothes designed for women in A Louis Vuitton commercial.
Irrespective of the society we belong to, culture has time and again imposed some unwritten rules on adorning codes on us based on our genders. Essentially it is divided into two categories, namely masculine and feminine. Which is not at all bothered about personality characteristics on the individual level but is mainly based on one’s gender.
After Vogue featured Harry Styles on its cover in a frilly grey undertone dress from Gucci’s AW20 collection, he took the internet by storm, from Twitter to Instagram hashtags about gender-fluid fashion became trending worldwide and the Falling singer became the flag bearer for gender-fluid fashion for Gen-Z. But long before Harry Styles, many renowned celebs and artists have time and again caused havoc, by breaking gender stereotypes through their fashion statements and choices.
Ex-presidents of the U.S have said in earlier interviews how he likes his female staff to “dress like women”. So even though a well-known magazine who is unlikely to go for radical queer politics becomes the first to feature a solo man in a dress for its cover, and we see male models strutting the runaways in blue feather boas and fishnets, how much could the fashion industry through its medium break the gender stereotypes? Let us dive in and find out!
History Of Men in Gowns
The first name that occurs to us when we recall male celebs who have significantly questioned society’s gender norms on fashion from day one is David Bowie. David Bowie was known for performing under different androgynous avatars of different characters. In 1973, in London, he performed as Ziggy Stardust in a short white silk dress with an Asian-looking print and a silk ribbon cinching his waist.
But the history of men in dress trails further back to the Egyptian era, ancient Rome, and the Shakespearean Theatres as well which were well known for the layered gowns made up of calico, satin, and cotton. Other than that famous Purple Rain singer, Prince who has also crowned the golden sex symbol of the 80’s have time and again topped his masculine features with feminine promiscuities. Even though it is far from breaking into mainstream fashion wear for men, dresses and gowns have still come a long way in the men’s fashion world.
Men in touch with their feminine side
The most searched pop idol of 2019, a member of the Grammy-nominated boyband BTS, Jungkook has been spotted wearing clothes from non-binary fashion companies time and again. According to an interview given by the boy band to Vanity Fair, when asked what great style meant to Jungkook he had to say, “Wearing anything you like regardless of gender”.
In 2016, the boyband also appeared in a gender-bending photoshoot for the cover of the magazine Exclusive in skirts and fishnets to break every rule in the “man book”. With the pop industry on the rise makeup for boys and nail polish have nowadays have been perceived as less absurd fashion ideas for men. But the amusing fact is that makeup for men is nothing new to the table as it played a significant role as a symbol of masculinity in the Egyptian era and was continued through the centuries by artists like Prince, David Bowie, and Boy George. But still, makeup for men is not the social standard and with the help of social media male beauty gurus like Jeffree Star, James Charles, Manny Mua, and Bretman Rock have had the platform to exhibit their astonishing talents and inspire millions of other people to do so!
Pants for women are now considered as well as recognized and normalized as everyday wear. But if we trace back to the 18th and 19th centuries, countries like the USA, England, and France could have women jailed for doing so. Even though in 1920s pants being worn by women was tolerated for limited activities related to sports. In 1939, the fashion designer Elizabeth Hames had put forward her argument that women were not yet ready to wear trousers at work. And even after arrests and sanctions on women wearing pants actresses like Marlene Dietrich, Katherine Hepburn has time and again wore tailored black suits, a classic fashion symbol for masculinity, and also sported short hairdos and men’s makeup to act as catalysts in completely wrecking free of society’s gender norms.
Women like these supermodels nowadays like Ruby Rose can show off their freshly chopped hairdos, bold inky tattoos, well-tailored suits, and blood-red lipsticks without being arrested by the fashion police! In March of 2019, a federal judge struck down a rule at a North Carolina charter school which prohibited girls from wearing pants in school. Later on, in the same month Hannah Kozak a senior Pennsylvania high school student had to fight the school board against a “no pants” rule for their graduation ceremony. Even though Scythian Greek women, Persian, and as well as Romans had adapted to trousers, the fight for pants for women has still a long way to come.