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Gender F**king Fashion

[audio:http://dreamlandapparel.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/05-Adrogeny.mp3|titles=Garbage - Adrogeny]

If you’ve read my other blog, then you know I love the intricate social constructs of gender. What better place, however, to speak about the dissolution and aggregation of gender than in fashion, where the recent menswear Paris shows were a deconstruct of traditional gender-wear, showing men in skirts, with makeup and feminine fabrics such as lace and latex. Suits were gorgeous and minty, fresh and decadent.



But all that is passé and the norm these days in fashion. What is risqué anyway? The Canadian duo D-Squared showed men in tight black leather pants and heels, with suggestive poses, alongside seemingly sexless men in black garb. Shiny tuxedos reigned in sumptuous silky fabrics. When Rick Owens and Dries Van Noten sent several heavy skirts and shapeless dresses on male models down the runway, I loved them: the thick materials and color blocking worked wonders on the models solid builds. But femininity was not only in the style but also the referencing: when Comme des Garcons sent beautiful pink sheath coats down the runway, it didn’t take much to guess what the intricate front slits and underlying bubbled material symbolized.

New and already loved, Kim Jones at the helm of Louis Vuitton sent out a brilliant array of high-waisted pants, fantastic Masai-inspired scarves and razor-sharp jackets, with prints straight out of a market place in Nairobi. So is color a feminine attribute?

Not any more, with designer houses skewing towards vibrant peacock prints, like Givenchy, who paired a fantastic rainforest T-shirt with a rinted skirts and blazers, and sent out suits in mint greens and tropical pinks. Sensuality easily mixed with the heat of the colors, and I advise you to get on the scheme – the mortuary looks does not do you justice.

Playing with gender has long been a favorite for fashion. While race is still lagging far behind in runway shows and print ads (white week as fashion week), gender-fucking is avant-garde, or at least, the latest flavor. Balenciaga’s 2011 fall campaign centered around the concept of androgyny, and as you gleaned to figure out the gender of the model in the ad, the concept was simple: anyone can wear these clothes.


Lady Gaga’s continuous fashion triumphs also underline a significant gender absence, with latex, leather and Alexander McQueen’s structured armory making her appear more alien than human… and if you’re thinking this is a bit overdone – look at the recent controversy over the following cover of male model, dressed up as a naked woman, this transgendered look created a discord as to what type of nudity is acceptable to the public eye: bookstores sheathed the cover, some wouldn’t sell it…

Or maybe its all just a bit too blasé to be anything significant at all: if fashion has always messed with gender, making women into men as Yves Saint Laurent glorified with the tuxedo, and men into women like Burberry does in its pouty, fresh-faced young male models, then perhaps it’s the unisex trend that currently dominates. After all, if you have a hanger for a body, you can wear anything and be anyone – like male models walking in the Bond-themed Gaultier show, looking like blond bombshells.

With the litany of unisex scents, boyfriend jeans on women and tight jeans and shirts on men, perhaps the next generation wants to be seen as associating less with the gender stereotypes typically ascribed to them. This is the dominant sentiment for men’s fashion recently: a man with his feminine side exposed – manly enough to access that side without any traditional socially prescribed embarrassment. I like this man. If there’s one place that all gender constructs can mutually exist, the fashion world seems to be it. Let’s hope it lasts.




  • Anonymous

    I feel like this is a topic which rears its head publicly every decade or two, and has done so for as long as history has been recorded. I don’t believe much in progression as I do in cycles. 

    It seems that gender fucking has been exalted by the Parisians as of late, and that is far from a surprise. Experiment is fashion friendly as of late. There are more eyes on the idea then there were in recent days so it’s nice to see people striking while the iron is hot. Will it last and become mainstream, in ways I am sure. Completely? I doubt it. However, I love your optimistic take as usual. When you indulge in controversy I enjoy partaking in the act as audience :)  

  • Chris Elliott

    Very cool piece Clara. It’s interesting to see the curve of fashion’s direction in gender. I really like how you broke everything down in this piece. Tres edgy! 

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