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Androgyny and Fashion

2009 February 8
by DC

After reading The Next Level: Boys with Birkins, an article referenced in one of Professor Dalke’s comments, I got to thinking: how has the fashion industry been blurring the line between male and female? Of course with the likes of Bobby Trendy, tv personality, interior decorator, and designer; and Miss J Alexander, runway coach, model, and judge on America’s Next Top Model, we can see that androgyny is fairly prevalent in fashion. What I didn’t expect after reading the article was my realization of another level of meaning for the term unisex. What Bryan Boy, Yu Masui, and Jean-Paul Paula do is, what I think, atypical of the transvestite persona. They integrate feminine clothes and accessories with men’s clothing for an eclectic androgynous ensemble–not to look like women. The article stresses that these are “men dressing mostly like men but with accessories and the odd (Prada lace) halter from the women’s department”. But what does it mean for a man to dress with feminine accessories yet still appear to be man? It seems like it’s finally time men take a cue from our wardrobes instead of the other way around. With the social acceptance of women wearing pants, the clothing options for women suddenly became limitless. But what about men? When asked why he chooses to wearing women’s clothing Yu Masui responds: “Clothes are getting more and more borderless, like the new YSL unisex collection. Women’s wear always takes ideas from men’s wear, so why can’t men’s get influence from women’s? Anyway, the biggest reason is men’s wear is more boring than women’s wear!!”. He’s right. With shirts, pants, suits, and maybe a few sweaters, many men’s collections are pretty predictable and less likely to be as experimental as women’s collections. Since women have long integrated menswear into their wardrobes, can men take some inspiration from the woman and still be “manly”? Take Jean Paul Gaultier’s makeup for men, Monsieur. The man in the ad is not at all a transvestite yet he uses makeup throughout the day.

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