When excessive femininity pervades men’s fashion
Reflecting the world’s changing perception of gender identity, big fashion houses are creating clothes that increasingly flout the boundaries between the masculine and the feminine. Brands like Gucci, Balenciaga, Maison Margiela and others have taken traditional male looks and turned them upside down, resulting in collections that are eccentric, unexpected and imbued with feminine touches. If fashion is a harbinger of things to come, then we’re in a for a brave new world where gender has disappeared and the future is one of fluidity.
Guys and Girls at Givenchy
When she designed the men’s fall/winter 2019-20 for Givenchy, artistic director Clare Waight Keller said that she looked back to her youth in the 1990s, and how she managed to dress distinctively on a tight budget. Gleaning further inspiration from her womenswear palette, she created a collection that is both soft and fluid, with belted trench coats and jackets, flared pants and oversized collars. She even has men carry bags and wear necklaces, pushing her collection into complete androgynous territory.
McQueen’s Rugged Refinement
Much like Waight Keller did, Alexander McQueen’s creative director Sarah Burton looked to her past – and specifically to her native Macclesfield in England’s north – to create the brand’s latest fall/winter collection. The result is a menswear line that is rugged and delicate all at once – manly in its choice of materials, but certainly also feminine in its selection of patterns and accessories. There are brilliantly colored silk jacquard suits with metallic rose emblems plus crystal-singed jackets, many dizzyingly augmented by crystal necklaces and earrings or even lace patterns. It’s certainly one of the most gender-fluid men’s collections to date from the house of McQueen.
Maison Margiela’s Gender Mystique
It was trans teenager Finn Buchanan who opened Maison Margiela’s fall/winter 2019-20 runway show. Most members in the audience did a double-take every time Buchanan or one of the other genderfluid models made their catwalk entrance: gender it seemed, had become a veritable illusion, with boundaries further blurred by the brand’s latest collection. Creative director John Galliano – the fashion world’s most outrageous and irreverent figure – erased gender identity with a stroke of the designer’s wand, offering up a men’s collection rife with sloping shoulders, stocking socks and black Mary Janes. Once again, Galliano’s fashion is set firmly into the future, in a genderless utopian universe.
Gucci Dudes and Dolls
Alessandro Michele continues to push the envelope with his newest fall/winter collection for Gucci. His gender-mixed runway show, with outfits that seamlessly skirt male/female boundaries and nods to ‘40s women’s fashion, translates into a collection that is pure Michele: surprising, entertaining and impossible to pin down. There are sharp, angular shoulders, nipped waists and pants cinched with a cord. Looks range from a sheer, flouncy men’s top that resembles a delicate blouse more than it does a tailored shirt, to a floral suit with legs that are full above the ankle. Sunglasses inspired by the ‘70s, men’s bags and buckled shoes complete a most eccentric – and most eye-catching – collection.
Balenciaga’s Feminine Flair
Demna Gvasalia, Balenciaga’s creative director, also staged a coed runway show for his brand. Like Michele, he offered up a fall/winter 2019-20 collection inspired by both sexes and designed to please both. Sleek, stylish silhouettes, minimalistic pantsuits and high collars and hoods were key to the collection, which included a bright all-red outfit consisting of loosefitting pants, a tailored shirt and a floorlength trench with a hoodie. Standouts – including a dark grey jacket and pants that call to mind men’s pajamas – allow Gvasalia to blur the boundaries not just between the sexes, but also between daytime and nighttime. It’s a dream in the daytime and a ray of sunshine in the night.