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The New Male Dresses Hit The Runway

fifon The New Male Dresses Hit The Runway The New Male Dresses Hit The Runway fifonSuddenly the whole world is unisex. Or is it androgynous? Transitioning?  Hard to say.  Whatever it is, it sucks.  This is not satire, though it looks like it should be. Major fashion designers, since 2013, have been pushing men’s styles clearly into the female column. [5] It’s called “gender blending” but it’s ultimate effect is more of a transvestite nature than anything else. [5] When you first see this, it’s funny. Really funny. Then after you think about it for a while it’s just sad. Really, really sad.  [5] Another champion of men in dresses, London designer Jonathan Anderson has been a force for gender blending for several seasons with his J.W. Anderson label. Entitled “Mathematics of Love”, JW Anderson’s fall 2013 collection transposed these traditionally feminine elements and silhouettes onto a masculine canvas in a rather intelligent way, so as to come off less “draggy” and more “21st century dandy.” [1] Sending men down the runway in stiff minidresses isn’t the most commercial of ideas [6] but Jonathan Anderson loves to subvert and push and blur the boundaries when it comes to that menswear-to-womenswear, womenswear-to-menswear aesthetic and while in the past it’s one that has usually seen the girls get more involved with the boys’ wardrobe. [3] In fact, it’s part of the recognizable branding he’s crafted since the birth of his label in 2007. “There’s something that has gone stale for a while in men’s, and I think you have to blow it up — then you have a look,” he told Style.Com right off. [6] What’s driving these aesthetic twists and turns? “It’s about reinterpreting pieces to work for both men and women,” Anderson  told Flare. [9]

Quieter than Westwood, though no less radical, Anderson effectively channels the shock of seeing a flouncy mini-skirt on a man’s albeit ectomorphic body on the runway — enough to catch the attention of LVMH, who’ve installed him at the helm of the Spanish label Loewe. [4] Bustiers (yes for boys) came with pockets in-built and were worn like muffs, while pinstripe trousers boasted oversized and outer pockets that spilled from the waist. Torsos were shown off to tight effect through body-hugging knits, which later boasted white picket fence and scissor emblems.  Fluffy coats in pastel shades and leather pleat-skirt tunics further explored Anderson’s “examination of bourgeois kinkyness and boudoir perversity”, as the show notes summed up. [3] [5] “It caused violent reactions,” says Anderson, gleefully. No one was surprised when it appeared in the Daily Mail‘s savaging of London’s more imaginative menswear shows. [2]

At J.W. Anderson the humiliation of the models was made truly complete, as the designer sent out his clan of put-upon male beauties wearing frilly shorts, leather dresses and frill-trimmed knee-length boots. One blond looked so down in the dumps it’s a wonder he didn’t tear the offending garment off and run for the hills. [10]

guidounes The New Male Dresses Hit The Runway The New Male Dresses Hit The Runway guidounes“I thought that was great! It meant the collection was challenging perceptions. But some journalists [he means fashion journalists, the sort that understand him and stood by him from day one] really couldn’t handle it either.” [2] “In a way, it’s funny that people had such a strong reaction to that look,” Anderson tells the BBC. “I mean, that top started as a long raglan mac. And then we cut the sleeves off, and then we made it short. When you’re in the studio,” he goes on, “that kind of experimentation feels normal. In fact, it’s the point. You’re playing with a piece of fabric, trying to create a new line, a new proportion. But then you present that to the world, on a runway, and it becomes this ‘thing.’”  [7]  Andreson is aware that those who champion his work tend to use adjectives such as androgynous or gender-bending, but neither of those accurately convey the “cool neutrality” of his approach to gender. He prefers the word unisex. [2] As a teenager, he says, he was obsessed with CK One, Calvin Klein’s unisex scent that hung heavy over dancefloors in the mid-90s: he still buys a bottle when waiting for a flight. “People forget about unisex, but I think it’s very relevant now.” [2] “What inspires me is the idea of a shared wardrobe for both men and women,” says Anderson. “I think you have to go through menswear to get to women’s”—an approach that also worked for Alexander McQueen and Raf Simons. The secret? To never veer into cross-dressing territory. “It’s about a twist on basics… with a slight element of kink,” Anderson says.  [9]

If Jonathan Anderson were an outlier, one mad designer whipping up androgynous looks out of a surfeit of aesthetic zeal, that would be interesting. But what’s makes it weird is the fact that Anderson is not alone. Another London up-and-comer, Shaun Sampson, showed pale pink organza board shorts and ‘skirts’ made to look like beach towels. At Alexander McQueen, creative director Sarah Burton opened the show with a fitted suit of white lace. The Topman show featured fanciful cowboys, and embroidered florals.  [7] It goes on and on…

[1] JW Anderson Fall 2013: Addressing The Man Dress, Queerty, Jan 15, 2013
[2] Murray Healy, The radical unisex designs of JW Anderson, The Guardian, Saturday 1 June 2013 19.00 BST
[3] Jessica Bumpus, JW Anderson, Autumn/Winter 2013-14 Menswear, Vogue, 09 January 2013
[4] Chris Nelson, The Joy of Unisex, Hint Mag, February-04-2015
[8] Charles Daniel McDonald, Are Feminine Looks The Future Of Men’s Fashion?, Men Style Fashion, February 19, 2014
[9] Mosha Lundström Halbert, Rising Star J.W. Anderson On Reinterpreting Fashion, Flare, Apr 19, 2013


About Bill Wallace

Bill Wallace is a self-fashioned writter, a computer programmer and cybermarketer from Quebec City, Canada who decided to enter the political arena after his disillusionment with the socialist system under which he was living in the French Canadian province of Quebec.

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