The likes of Dior Men, Vetements, GmBH, Dunhill, and Kaushik Velendra put the spotlight on gender fluid, body contouring shapes in their Autumn/Winter ’22 outings. We explore hourglass tailoring and its place in menswear
Hourglass tailoring can be easily traced to 14th century Europe. From the Renaissance to the turn of the 18th century, corsets continued their reign becoming more conical and accentuating the waist. However, the watershed moment was during the 1947 post World War II in Paris, when Christian Dior reignited this shape with his New Look silhouette — the bar jacket cinching the waist paired with a billowing full-skirt — drawing from the Belle Époque era and referencing his own mother. Dior’s New Look remains one of the most seminal moments in haute couture history. Cut to the present, designer Kim Jones at Dior Men resurrects the bar jacket — recontextualising it, tweaking its proportions, making it lighter, supple, and impossibly contemporary for men season after season. For Autumn/Winter 22, he initiated a conversation with Monsieur Dior proposing a masculine reinterpretation of the bar jacket in subtly varying nuances of grey and pastels, expressing the shades of the Parisian sky.
Also, worth mentioning is Louis Vuitton’s AW 22, which saw an array of bar shaped suits, top coats, and parkas, all showcased in the late Virgil Abloh’s streetwear tradition.
Moreover, at Vetements, Guram Gvasalia experimented with digital 3D pattern modifications that lent straight- cut jackets a couture-inspired hourglass silhouette. At Dunhill, Mark Weston narrowly wrapped jackets held by a hidden button in heritage fabrics.
Designer Kunal Rawal sees it as an offshoot of the current waves of gender fluidity. “It’s boring to stick to the same styles all the time, so this is definitely a fun silhouette, but I don’t know whether it will become a big trend in India. And that’s quite okay, because these days fashion is all about micro-trends. In a country as diverse as India, it’s never been about everyone wearing the same thing, but I do think it will be a cool micro-trend. It’s a step in the gender fluid direction. As a designer, it’s really motivating to see such a change in the market. Especially, because there were always more boundaries on what men could wear in the past, especially in India,” he says.
He suggests accentuating the silhouette with metal brooches or pins. “The idea is to visually play with the shape and accentuate it even further,” he adds.
Stylist Akshay Tyagi hails the hourglass tailoring as a new-age trend. “In the past too, men often wore corsets. Gender-fluid style is definitely a trend, and also one sees an emergence of the new male body type with a very narrow waistline. It’s tricky to pull off if you don’t have the physique for it. If you have the body type to carry it off, then go for it with great gusto,” he says.
He recommends keeping it nipped at the waist and accessorising it with a crossbody bag, earrings, rings and necklaces. “You can add a belt to accentuate it further,” he adds.
Stylist Divyak D’souza notes that while traditionally, hourglass tailoring has been linked to women’s bodies, the thinnest part of any body is where the rib cage ends. “Proportionately, there’s a certain allure to it when that part is snatched in when you’re dressing up. It could be linked to the sensuality of constricted clothing — bondage style of dressing and there’s a lustful beauty to it. Men or women, shape can be adapted to all body types and genders. A pair of high-waist trousers gives you a better proportion, makes one’s legs look longer and sit on the thinnest part of the torso,” he quips.
“I am not sure about men who aren’t comfortable with the idea of gender-fluid clothing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be with blazers, you can also change it up, you can have something more fitted and tucked in on the top,” he adds.
In Autumn/Winter 22 collections, brands like GmBH and Kaushik Velendra have reimagined the way we perceive hourglass tailoring and gender fluid power dressing.
Velendra reinterpreted the power dressing setting the mood for gender fluid touches. Think sharp blazers offset by chiffon sleeves and cigarette pants and styled with cropped vests. GmBH also showcased silhouettes that hugged the waist and elongated the shoulders — boxy yet curvy.
All in all, it’s great to see menswear designers sailing against the tides of menswear conventions, now it’s all about men breaking the barrier, and enjoying the change.
Lead Image: Dior