Fashion Goes Unisex
From Cara Delavigne, who’s fronting this season’s DKNY campaign in sharp trouser suits, to Jared Leto, who wore a lilac tux to the Oscars, fashion is getting an androgynous makeover.
Women borrowing from the boys isn’t exactly new. Actresses Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn were rocking masculine styles way back in the 1920s. Meanwhile, the last decade has seen everything from ‘boyfriend jeans’ to boyish sportswear for women go mainstream. However, while women are often perfectly happy being referred to as Tomboys, the reverse hasn’t always been the case. When Kanye West decided to wear a Givenchy skirt to his concert two years ago he got some serious flack for it. So much so that he supposedly demanded a certain picture agency remove all incriminating evidence of it.
How refreshing then, that this season is embracing a more feminine approach to mens fashion and seeing it as something to be celebrated. It’s a sign of the times when men’s heeled shoes and lacy tops go mainstream. This new shift in gender-bending style represents a boundary-breaking change in society and a freedom of expression for both genders.
JW Anderson, the designer recently quoted as saying that gendered clothing is a ‘dated concept’, has featured stack heeled brogues and off-the-shoulder tops in his menswear collections. And at Gucci’s Autumn/Winter 2015 menswear show, pussy bow blouses and lace tops were the order of the day. Men’s jewellery is fast gaining pace with Hedi Slimane’s layered necklaces and bangles for Saint Laurent becoming an instant hit this spring. Meanwhile, the high street’s man bags are extending to decidedly feminine Tote’s and clutches.
The new gender neutral section at Selfridges’ flagship London store is doing well – with both sexes. The store has dedicated three floors to unisex apparel in a bid to celebrate ‘fashion without definition’. The ‘agender’ clothing is even displayed on gender neutral mannequins. It brings together brands already known for their non-gender clothing, such as Commes des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto, plus couturiers such as Rad Hourani - the only designer to show a unisex collection at Paris haute couture this season.
If you want to take the trend a step further, then unisex fragrances are also enjoying a moment. Bella Freud’s Ginsberg Is God Eau de Parfum is a fabulous choice for men and women. It’s a spicy concoction that also combines Frankincense, Wormwood and Leather. Ormonde Jayne’s Montabacco Intensivo is a great unisex choice, combining leather, wood and tobacco leaf with floral top notes of magnolia, jasmine and rose. And you can’t go wrong with Jo Malone’s classic Lime Basil and Mandarin cologne. This zesty fragrance has a universal appeal.
Gender neutral chic is what everyone’s talking about. And most will agree that the fact it’s seeing its way into the mainstream can only be a good thing. Even Selma Hayek, usually known for her plunging necklines and silhouette-skimming gowns, attended Paris Fashion Week recently in a mannish two-piece suit. And Jared Leto’s lilac ensemble at the Oscars was a brave and beautiful choice. Is unisex fashion destined to stay? Only time will tell.