On the catwalk at Fendi’s Fall 2022 menswear show during Milan Men’s Fashion Week last month were Mary Jane heels, pearl necklaces, crystal earrings, skirts and socks rising. For any women or non-male people who are fans of the brand and looking for a feminine touch, it was hard not to ask, “Can I buy these pieces too?”
The progressive construction of traditionally feminine touches in menswear is of course nothing new. Last season Fendi also showcased crop tops and mini shorts on the Spring 22 catwalk. and Christian Louboutin’s sleek heels turning a page on masculinity. At Gucci, creative director Alessandro Michele has been peddling accessories and feminine silhouettes for years now – and helping his friend and muse Harry Styles slip in for an even more public presentation of what the new “manly man” might look like. “, regardless of sexual orientation. .
But this season, perhaps the biggest change hasn’t been on the slopes but in real life. During Paris Men’s Fashion Week, the “man-bag” took on new life, worn openly in a more traditionally feminine fashion, slung over the shoulder, nonchalantly crossed over the body or clasped in the hand. Some of the handbags also clearly came from women’s collections. The common thread running through these handbag wearers seemed to have nothing to do with sexual or gender orientation and everything to do with a hypebeast mentality – collecting Chanel women’s bags and Louis Vuitton men’s satchels by Virgil Abloh with the same fervor.
On the male-dominated (but demographically shifting) StockX, Chanel, Jacqemus and Amina Muaddi bags are among the brands and accessories featured prominently, and some male collectors pick up bags as often as they grab the latest sneakers. It’s yet another sign of the increasing openness and fluidity that men of all orientations are applying to fashion. He can be seen in Jacquemus’ latest campaign and collection preview, featuring musical artist Bad Bunny in a mini dress with socks and high heels. It can also be seen on the red carpet, with performers like Kid Cudi in dresses, Pharrell Williams in tweed jackets and many more in a wide range of jewelry.
“When it comes to jewelry and accessories, it’s all about courage,” said Valerie Steele, director of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. “You saw some of that in the ’60s and early ’70s,” she added, recalling a Tiffany & Co. executive from that era who scoffed at the idea of selling the necklaces. brand jewelry to men when they started expressing interest. by buying parts for themselves.
The fashion historian also recalled Rudy Gernreich, the mid-century designer whose designs were deliberately used to advance sexual freedom and push the boundaries of gender identity at a time of great exploration of both.
“[Gernreich] was quite ideological to not only want to open up menswear to women, but also to give men the option to wear clothes like kaftans and dressy leggings, etc., offering the same kind of physical freedom. non-cliched gender identity,” Steele said of the designer, who also invented the women’s topless monokini. “I think he was trying to offer the possibility that you weren’t locked into a stereotype of masculinity or femininity.”
It is perhaps the same idea that Christian Louboutin puts forward with his latest collection, “Nos anges”. An asexual capsule comprised of high-heeled boot styles, the collection focuses on silhouettes, materials and constructions that define a glamorous intersection of genders in modern fashion, from platform to Chelsea boots, patent leather in leopard print. It also offers an extensive size range from 36 to 46. The collection, in all its glamor and fairness, seems to be asking the question that many in and out of the fashion industry have been asking lately: should we stop separating men’s and women’s fashion? ?
“What I love about angels is that they are genderless but still very sensual,” Louboutin himself writes in the release notes for the collection. “It concerns so many people that I love and admire, human but celestial, who make me dream. It seemed very natural to me to dedicate a collection to what I named Our Angels.
The collection debuted Feb. 2 at Louboutin’s website and boutiques and at Nordstrom, where John Langston, the retailer’s buyer for branded women’s and children’s shoes, emphasized “authenticity and authority fashion” in the genderless space as what the retailer’s customers are looking for. for.
“The momentum around genderless fashion has picked up from previous seasons and we’ve seen many designers embrace deconstructing the binary concept of gender by playing with colour, tailoring and shapes in non-conformist ways that pushes the boundaries of masculinity and femininity,” Langston said.
Handbags and jewelry make it quite easy to switch from one gender to another, from one human body to another. But in ready-to-wear, as in footwear, size becomes an inevitable obstacle to true gender equity in the design and manufacture of an item.
“There are to some extent differences in the formation of the bodies of many men and many women,” Steele pointed out. “So even if you have something like blue jeans, men’s jeans are usually cut a little differently than women’s jeans, but you have to take into account that you mass-produce it, it’s not a fit bespoke, it’s not tailoring, it’s just produced in sizing increments.
Langston agreed. “Fit and sizing has always been calibrated on a binary concept of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ and can be a challenge when combining men’s and women’s collections,” he said. The shopper added that Nordstrom pays close attention to fit testing and sizing of genderless collections to ensure the product holds up when it meets a customer’s foot.
Outside of the realm of femininity-tinged menswear (and the longstanding shift to menswear in some parts of womenswear), there are, of course, genuine genderless brands, aesthetics, and shoes that promote a look no longer gender neutral – and have the right fit and size.
Crocs clog and sandal silhouettes are purposely designed for all genders, a brand spokesperson confirmed. At Birkenstock, European sizing is available in regular and wide widths, but there is no gender distinction in the shape of the insole fit, the brand has confirmed. The gender-neutral sizing helps explain why the two brands’ fashion collaborations continually attract all genders, both on the catwalks and when it comes to actual sales of the items.
One of the best recent examples of clothes for her and for everyone. The couple wore custom Gucci suits, which had a similar relaxed fit on each of them. But they didn’t stop there. They also each wore an assortment of delicate and decorative antique pins from Fred Leighton, as well as a few coordinating necklaces. On foot, their Manolo Blahnik brocade slides (which to the naked eye appeared to be about the same size) summed up the current state of genderless fashion aptly: it’s good to try something new now.