More and more fashion shows, although held during men’s fashion week, also tend to unveil future pieces from the women’s department, when they are not simply two collections in one presentation.
From Burberry, which abandoned the idea of a special men’s fashion show in 2016, to Moschino, which couples A/H 2019 man and Pre-Fall 19 woman (a purely commercial collection, arriving during the summer to prepare for the first freshness, editor’s note), to Y/Project and Phoebe English, the concept of men fashion week seems more and more flexible. In addition to the economic logic — two shows in one are much cheaper for our favourite brands — such an organization also offers greater artistic coherence and allows a deeper immersion in the creator’s universe.
Besides, as the passages on the unisex podiums follow one another, one cannot help but notice how the models are sometimes interchangeable. Furthermore, it happens that some women’s pieces are simply just shown on men. So can we consider that fashion week contributes to introducing a discussion on the notion of modern masculinity?
The idea of a feminine man is not new to the fashion world. Without going back to a time no one remembers, in the 1980s, Jean-Paul Gaultier was already shaking up people’s minds by having truck drivers perched on high heels. About ten years later, for one of his first collections, Alexander McQueen dresses the legendary Mister Pearl in a corset matching a printed skirt. However, these experiments are still rare: their purpose is above all to shock and question.
Gradually, the situation changes. On the societal side, the distribution of attributes traditionally associated with each gender is being challenged. Moreover, a gender revolution is taking place: our genitalia could be limited to a biological level only, without dictating how we should approach our existence. In this wake, the portrait of man inevitably evolves. The millennial can cry, be fashion-conscious, sensitive, delicate, romantic if he wishes. A spirit that no other label embodies better than Gucci with its lace shirts, silk scarves, beaded glasses and embroidered jackets, which allow it never to leave the TOP 3 of the most popular brands in theLyst Index. Similarly, when Kim Jones joined the management of Dior Homme, he took explicit inspiration from the haute-couture archives and the “tailleur bar”, an hourglass figure that made Christian Dior’s success with women of the 50’s. Even the biggest households now have fun blurring the lines between male and female wardrobes.
In a bolder vein, the Art School collective presented its latest collection in London two weeks ago. The first model? A silk dress cut en biais, worn by a man, announcing a fashion show imbued with androgyny. However, we know that no or few men will actually put on these outfits. The clientele will indeed be feminine, like Charles Jeffrey Loverboy‘s, creator of a gender fluid fashion that is nevertheless distributed in the women section of Matches Fashion. A reality of which these designers are necessarily aware, implying that the staging of their shows is more an ideological statement in favour of a less rigid conception of masculinity than a commercial move — despite the nice publicity stunt obtained in the process. At Maromas, this idea goes even further, blending with the ethnic and cultural heritage of its creators.
Last November, VOGUE opened a photographic exhibition: All That Man Is — Fashion and Masculinity Now, in which more than forty photographers took part to offer a mosaic of men of all kinds. More generally, fashion is becoming more aware than ever of the challenges of representation and diversity. In this sense, it is therefore logical that it should accompany the social changes and evolution of this post-modern man, free to subscribe or not to the classical scheme of masculinity. Of course, the time when your butcher will serve you your bib in thigh-high boots has not yet arrived, and may never even come. Far from wanting to destroy male identity, it is above all about inviting us to reflect on its plurality and to question ourselves on standards that have been transmitted to us by automatism. For once that fashion is pushing us to think… •