Blurring the Gender Lines

 
 

As the curtain falls on men’s fashion month, Lucy Mortell questions the effectiveness of the current fashion week format.


JANUARY has come to a close, as have many things; the January blues, Dry January, most New Year’s resolutions and of course, Men’s AW17 catwalk shows. With the end of any fashion month also comes the much awaited trend reports, but one would be forgiven for thinking they’d just re-read the trend reports produced for 2017’s Pre-Fall Womenswear collections.

Crossovers are now commonplace; we are seeing key trends like oversized shoulders, vinyl, statement sleeves and all-in-ones among the looks strutting their way down both the male and female catwalks. This is not the first – and definitely won’t be the last – time we’ll see, not just similar, but almost the exact same clothes on the male and female runways. This raises an interesting question; what’s the point in continuing the segregation of gender on the runway?

There is no doubt that today, fashion is at the forefront of a shift. It’s a massive shift towards not only recognising the phenomenon of gender fluidity, but having major retailers making a change. For instance, Selfridges in London is dedicating an entire space to “agender” fashion, perhaps following in the footsteps of Alessandro Michele’s Gucci SS16 collection aimed to blur the masculine/feminine divide with delicate lace, intricate embellishments and bows appearing on both his men’s and women’s collection.

“This is not the first – and definitely won’t be the last – time we’ll see not just similar, but almost the exact same clothes on the male and female runways.”

Even high street brands like COS offer the same genderless clothing in both male and female sizes. Anna Wintour once said that “fashion reflects the times as much as the headline in a newspaper”, so why is it that Fashion Week remains so stubborn in its division of the sexes?

Fashion Week’s persistence in sticking with the tried and trusted formula of gender segregation might well put it on the back foot. Is this the reason Rodarte has decided to ditch New York Fashion Week in favour of Paris and independently presenting their shows privately? Once this season ends, Rodarte plan to completely abandon the traditional fashion calendar, instead planning their shows during Couture Week in January and July. Vetements and Kenzo made similar moves previously.

“Designers and creators are taking it upon themselves to alter the way in which they present their collections.”

These changes just add to the ever-changing dynamic of fashion week, with big names like Versace pulling out of haute-couture week and Oscar de la Renta opting to link up with Monse. Designers and creators are taking it upon themselves to alter the way in which they present their collections and it looks like they’re not getting any help from the organisers of Fashion Week.

Burberry opted to use both male and female models in their September ’16 show to great success, so what’s the big deal? Well commercially, combining men’s and women’s shows could result in design houses showing only twice a year instead of four times. This would have massive financial repercussions for the industry. Much relied upon sponsorship funds could potentially be halved.

Over time, as more and more designers pull out, maybe the time has come for fashion week organisers to completely reconsider the way they do things.  If they don’t, they could risk a full house but an empty catwalk.

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