Growing up in the ’80s, I was often confused by the looks of many of my favourite pop/ rock stars. From Annie Lennox and Grace Jones to David Bowie and Boy George, I knew they all shared a style, but I couldn’t quite figure out if it was more masculine or feminine. I also couldn’t figure out why it was such a big deal for me to define that. Of course, with time, I realised the look that they all shared wasn’t more of one or the other, but rather a whole different concept known as the “androgynous” one.
As everything else in the world continues in a cyclical manner, so too does fashion. Over the past few years, Gucci has prided itself on pushing everything androgynous. Men and women walk the runway together, often wearing the same clothing patterns, designs and styles. But unlike during the ’80s when all of my pop idols also had a similar look, now the fashion and the person are being kept independent of one another. In many ways, it’s been the best example of how we have evolved to a point where the clothes do make the look, but the clothes don’t make the man (or woman).
It’s interesting to see how the gender lines in fashion have continued to blur. It speaks to the changing shift in our cultural paradigm. From the greater acceptance of the LGBTQ community and their freedom to be and dress as themselves, to the commercial push to make every demographic a sales opportunity for every possible product – the lines have become more tolerant and more expressive.
But what seemed like the last push is happening now. It was much easier to see a woman sporting a man’s tux, but men wearing skirts and blouses? Well that’s relatively new, and truly crossing a machismo line we didn’t necessarily expect to see beyond the runways. Now, we see it on the streets of any big city.
Perhaps fashion is simply running in line with our cultural shifts. If the majority of the younger generation now identifies itself as gender fluid, perhaps the clothing, the styling and the options should be as fluid as they are? Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele was quoted as saying that his decision to dress male models in his women’s line in 2015 was a reflection of society, a “strong affirmation of freedom beyond cataloguing and labelling”. But what he didn’t realize is that in just these last four years, in many ways, this look and style have also become its own label, and he and Gucci are now profiting by prototyping a whole new catalogue.
At the end of the day, options for what we wear are ultimately ours. How we choose to dress might be influenced by fashion, but it’s our choice whether to let fashion become our culture or the culture create fashion. Chances are, there will continue to be a two-way rapport between culture and fashion. But when it comes to androgynous style, I think we’ve now evolved to a place where it’s moved from being a style to now simply being a part of our lexicon. And thanks to that, there is more creativity available in fashion for both genders. So it should be interesting to see what comes next, and also equally importantly, who comes next.