Men’s Fashion week has me thinking about gender. Mostly because it really doesn’t feel like Men’s Fashion; what I’m seeing coming down the runway looks ambiguous in terms of Men’s vs. Women’s. And I say this because I am a woman, and I actually want to wear this shit! Could it be that way down the line, there won’t be a need for Women’s Fashion Week and Men’s Fashion Week? What if the idea of gender in fashion became so blurry that it ceased to exist?
I am trying to pin-point the exact moment in my childhood when I learned about “gender”; except I don’t think there is one. It seems that the two gender extremes are ingrained into our consciousness from an early age. To clarify, when I speak of gender, I am not just talking like, penis vs. vagina. I am referring to the mental and behavioral characteristics that make up our gender identity. And in discovering our gender identity, we have two (socially acceptable) choices: Male or Female.
Considering this is a fashion blog, let’s talk about the socially acceptable modes of dress for each of these groups: Men can walk around topless all damn day if they so pleased. Women however, cannot. Women can wear dresses and skirts. Men however, cannot. Women are expected to wear cosmetics on the daily. Men however, cannot. Though these example are only a few, and oversimplified at that, I think you get the picture.
Of course, us fashion folk have tooooons of fun within these stereotypical male and female roles. From time to time, I rather enjoy dressing up as that femmy-femme, bombshell of a woman. I also find it super sexy when men go for that uber-butch, man’s man, John Wayne kinda aesthetic. It’s just that, we consider these “social norms” to be “rules”. And we do not like rules. In fashion, rules are good for one thing, and one thing only: breaking.
Breaking the rules simply means that we want to explore that huge world of possibility that exists between the polar extremes of “Male” and “Female”. The idea of entering such a “grey area” gets us fashion folk’s heart racing- she male’s and transgenders and tom boys, OH MY! Unfortunately, “grey areas” have a tendency to make society at large very uncomfortable. For example:
FASHION WORLD: Marc Jacobs wears a pink dress to a party and people think he is strange, but fabulous nonetheless.
REAL WORLD: Teen in Texas wants to wear a dress to his Senior Prom because he “feels more comfortable dressing as a woman”. His request is denied and the headlines turn into national debate.
Sometimes I wish the fashion world was actually a microcosm of the real world; if only because fashion tends to embrace change wholeheartedly and revel in the new, the weird, the freaky, the counter-intuitive, the uncomfortable and those unexplored grey areas. So today, in honor of Men’s Fashion Week and in the spirit of the fashion world’s wonderful ability to embrace the “grey” (or “gray” for that matter...), I bring you some fave fashion gender-bending moments: