What Androgyny Says About Fashion

Androgyny Joseph Prima Darling

In January of 2015 Alessandro Michelle caught the fashion world’s attention with his feminine take on menswear in his first collection for Gucci. At that moment androgyny came to the forefront of fashion. Androgyny had been in the air for years in menswear and was a perennial element in women’s wear since Marlene Dietrich famously wore a tuxedo in the 1930 film Morocco, and likely well before that.  Androgyny began to  work both ways, men dressing more like women and women dressing more like men. Now we’re to the point where the sexes are meeting somewhere in the middle or more accurately tilting more towards classic men’s tailoring for all. The Joseph women’s pre fall and men’s fall collections bear a striking similarity, sharing fabrics and silhouettes.

Androgyny Prima Darling
Above and top photo Joseph Women’s Pre Fall’18 and left Men’s Fall”18

In the broader cultural context, as Oprah so powerfully stated in her Golden Globe speech, “a new day is on the horizon”. A perfect storm of events this past year has brought us to the precipice, and fashion in its intuitive way has foreshadowed this.

Androgyny Prima Darling
Joseph Women’s Pre Fall ’18 and left Men’s Fall ’18 above photos vogue.com

The two-way androgyny reflected in fashion the past few years coincides with LGBTQ rights and the recognition in our schools, military and workplaces that sexual orientation is not just straight or gay, male or female, but a much broader spectrum, all entitled to the same rights. When fashion portrays men as feminine and women masculine it’s not to suggest that all people will jump on board.  It will however, culturally challenge the stereotypes society has been conditioned to.

Androgyny Prima darling
Striking in a tailored suit, the woman in this Gucci ad looks formidable and fashionable while age is not relevant.

When Donald Trump was elected the long sleeping women’s movement was awakened with a start, uniting on January 21st, with worldwide women’s marches. It was a call to action for women of all ages to fight for their rights. This set the stage for the #MeToo movement, and the strength it has gathered in a short period of time. The culture of harassment had heretofore been tolerated, accepted as the status quo, until the revival of the women’s movement.

Androgyny Prima Darling
Claire Foy in Stella McCartney and Blanca Blanco at the Golden Globes, guess Blanco didn’t get the memo.

Here in the US we’re living through the most politically tumultuous times in memory. Historically it’s in times of unrest when change occurs, and for better or worse we’re living through such a time. Using fashion as the bellwether I see a more level playing field for women. To compete with men women need not dress for men, but can learn from the advantage men have enjoyed for years with a reliable uniform of trousers, jacket and functional shoes. That doesn’t mean it has to be boring and void of sex appeal. Prada’s pretty/ugly separates and the powerful Celine woman come to mind, both employ form, function and androgyny.

Androgyny Prima Darling
Zoe Kravitz sleek in Saint Laurent while Laura Marano plays princess.

Dressing for evening is also ready for a reboot. A big night no longer requires a big dress. As award season progresses take note of what looks new to you. The Golden Globes provided a stark comparison of modern versus old school femininity. What do you think?

Androgyny Prima Darling
At 13 Milly Bobby Brown in Calvin Klein had a commanding presence. Sarah Jessica Parker loves clothes and wears them well but looked dated in this Dolce and Gabbana dress.
Androgyny Prima Darling
I’m hoping the power pantsuit will make a comeback.
  • Peggy Hagerty Duffy

    As much as I normally enjoy your fashion commentary, I disagree with your viewpoint in this post, particularly in your captions. What a woman prefers aesthetically should have nothing to do with her perceived worth or power. Whether I like ruffles and bows or minimalist silhouettes should not have anything to do with whether people take me seriously. In fact, by dismissing the characteristics more historically associated with femininity, you are saying that we have to be unfeminine to be worthwhile. In effect, we can’t be the kind of women we want to be, whatever that is. This is wrong. Sarah Jessica Parker looks like Sarah Jessica Parker. She likes what she likes. My favorite color is pink and I love lace. By telling me that I should prefer something more androgynous, you’re telling me not to be me. You’re saying that I need to be someone other than myself to get somewhere in the world. A successful 25-year career in a male-dominated field would seem to say I’m doing just fine being myself. Others should wear what they like, too.

    • Hi Peggy, You bring up a great point. I’m not implying that a woman must dress in an androgynous way to be taken seriously, fashion choices should be made to please ones self. I wanted to point out that the androgynous direction that much of fashion has been moving towards is a reflection of the times we live in. The women’s movement and LGBTQ rights are calling into question traditional gender roles, which I believe fashion has picked up on. By the way I adore Sarah Jessica Parker and hesitated on that caption. It’s a tried and true silhouette she often wears and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I do maintain it was not the most modern look on the red carpet, just my opinion:)