When Alessandro Michelle took to the reigns at Gucci, the former Accessory Designer turned Creative Director certainly went with his fashion instinct. His debut Menswear Collection boldly showcased Dandies in chiffon and lace, the same sensous material he had incorporated for women. Richardo Tisci didn’t shy either from dressing Givenchy homme in skirts over tailored suits. Despite the shocking style of dressing, not an inch of masculinity scaled down on the runway. The year also witnessed androgynous model, Andrea Pejic promoting gender fluidity by walking down both runways unnoticed. There was a certain sense of equality yet ambiguity on where fashion was heading.
Fashion currently stands at a provactive confluence where men and women feel the urge to dress equal. It is not just the obvious inner expression, but the outward projection. Sex is something determined at birth, but ideals of gender especially in dressing is something shaped by culture. The Millenial men of today do not always desire sharp suits to shield their masculinity and women, body curving outfits to highlight their assets. There is an increasing displacement in attitude that demands an end to outward physical differences. It’s about moving beyond gender ideals towards towards tasteful aesthetics.
Diving down into the provenance of fashion history, feminity was always equated with nature wherein the the woman’s life revolved around motherhood duties. Her existence just like her dressing was delicate and decorative. Meanwhile a man’s position was defined by his status and power in society. With involvement in social and political roles, his masculinity was defined by culture. The Flapper era of the 1920s, witnessed feminist sensibilities like never before. Breaking the code after decades of submission, women no longer seeked frivolous clothing. Women’s fashion was drifted towards an antagonistic mood as locks were chopped, hemlines raised and lips were rouge. Coco Chanel, the woman leagues ahead of her time saw the future of fashion before the rest could. She liberated womanhood with her lightweight and practical designs, an aesthetic in striking contrast to Christian Dior. She turned around jersey, the humble fabric used in men’s underwear and transformed it to women’s dresses.
Moving decades ahead, Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘Le Smoking’ (Panda eyes) definitely raised eyebrows to witness the woman in a masculine silhouette. Pushing the boundaries in Power Dressing, the iconic designer made women don menswear aiding to an adrogynous appeal. As much of a liberating avant garde concept it was in those days, the designer saw the future ahead and took the road less travelled. Sure enough even today, it is a fierce red carpet trend embraced by the bold.
With 2015 being about the revival of Seventies, here goes another cue on unisex dressing. Towards the end of the late 1960s’ to mid seventies, gender-bending became a social phenomenon as men and women in America started a ‘Unisex’ movement (Think David Bowie). It was a movement promoting equality among both genders when it came to roles at the workplace and other decisions to do with the way of life.
The urge for fashion to get minimalistic and fuss-free has also brought about Athleisure. Designers like Hood by Air and Alexander Wang are infusing sportswear into mainstream fashion diminishing the line between gender based clothing.
Unisex fashion has also made it’s presence felt in the Couture world with it’s first unisex couture house, Rad Hourani. Established in 2013, it is recognized by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
As much as fashion likes to push it’s boundaries towards the unimaginable future, it is just as insecure of it’s future acceptance. Unisex fashion in the millenial age reflects the growing cultural shift in attitude brought by designer labels embraced by segments of the upper echelons. It is time one overlook frivolities in fashion and go beyond gender differentiation. It’s time to find equality in our differences.
Feature Image: Shefali J Jauhar
Image Credits for Gucci AW14: Red Online, UK
Image Credits for David Bowie: Telegraph UK
Image Credits for Hood by Air SS13: Trend Hunter Online
Image Credits for Rad Hourani: Rad Hourani Online