It is not uncommon for menswear designers to have women running down their catwalk,
highlighting some key womenswear pieces and bringing that extra je ne sais quoi. In the menswear shows of haute couture labels like Dolce and Gabbana, Versace and Prada, womenswear has often been spotted simultaneously teasing the proximal womenswear shows and demonstrating a designer’s versatility. But when women run men’s fashion week, it can also be a thoughtful, intentional way to show a collection’s androgyny, something far greater than just a trend.
As we saw the last few day, among Milan’s many masculine moments, the Hadid sisters were once again a fashion month favorite. In the Versace show, Bella made the first appearance of the two. With her hair slick back in a power-ponytail and wearing a black mini dress with harness, puffer jacket loosely draped over her shoulders, Bella captured the feminine seduction synonymous with the Versace brand. Joining her in the show were Emily Ratajkowski, Kaia Gerber and many other female models who likewise brought drama to the catwalk, contrasting the hyper-masculine and leathery garbs of the menswear with their femininity. Other menswear labels that inspired us with their womenswear designs were Kenzo and Moschino, but one look which captivated the audience was Gigi’s Prada frock.
Fall 2019 Photo: Alessandro Lucioni / Gorunway.com | Prada
While Gigi Hadid is easy to dismiss as the ideal female form, she was often considered too ‘sporty’ or ‘muscly’ for womenswear, let alone Victoria’s Secret. With the two thousand’s standard model dimensions still looming over many female models, it was difficult for her to reach her goals because of her built. However, that is exactly why designers seem to favor her and might even be why she so often has run men’s shows. Her first 2019 runway debut was significant because, unlike her sister’s Versace look, her’s was inspired by what men wear instead of just offering the half female equivalent look. The 23-year-old button-down-dress, mimicking the failsafe shirts, to capture Prada’s signature fun and flirty sophistication. In chunky flatform and a mullet, her appearance as part of the Miuccia Prada’s menswear 2019 collection produced womenswear with a masculine edge. While we would not go as far as to call it androgyny, the look suits the menswear show.
Fall 2019 Photo: Alessandro Lucioni / Gorunway.com | Balmain
Androgyny has been shown more explicitly in the Balmain Homme show with men and women models all wearing black and white tuxedos, or what can best be as streetwear’s alternative to the classic tuxedo. This is different from the above mentioned ensembles because women are wearing men’s clothing, not simple a selection of womenswear made to go along with the menswear – no, it is part of the menswear collection. Tailored, oversized suits were also spotted on female models in the Berluit’s and Yohji Yamamoto’s runway collection. In these cases, the designers show that their apparel is to be worn by all genders, thus tempering the classification of menswear.
Fall 2019 Photo: Alessandro Lucioni / Gorunway.com | Louis Vuitton
While a designer’s envisaged androgyny can be made more transparent by having women wear the looks down the runway, the absence of women in a menswear collection can also show the fluidity of the clothing. The Louis Vuitton Men’s Fall 2019 show by Virgil Abloh is a prime example of this paradox. Along with gray, oversized tailored suits and monogramed military jackets, a trio of sequined tops and many pleated wrap skirts were donned by male models, clearly disrupting the conventional image of the LV Man.
While this might seem counterfactual, when considering the designer’s sophomore show for the French luxury brand, one would almost expect women to showcase his gender bending clothes rather than men. In a show mixing luxury and tradition with streetwear and ambiguity, having woman wear the kilts would have taken away from the drama, the shock, the strength we expect from Virgil Abloh’s preconscious creations. In a sense, it would soften the blow, blocked the punch. Thom Browne and Comme Des Garçon made similar decisions when it came to casting; no women were seen walking Browne’s uncanny and deconstructed utopia menswear show and likewise no women were seen in Comme Des Garçon’s goth-inspired dystopian show free from gender-restricted clothing and makeup respectively.
Fall 2019 Photo: Alessandro Lucioni / Gorunway.com | Comme des Garçons Homme Plus, Thom Browne
Casting is an important part but one that we often forget to consider when we are presented the final collection. Fashion week can be a designer’s bi-annual expression of artistic creativity and liberty, their hopes and aspirations for fashion and maybe their own life. For the fully planned effect to come across, it is important to marry the clothes with the model, matching them in an equally methodical and instinctive way. The final product: the model, whether they are male, female or gender-nonconforming, is transformed into someone who is part muse and part mannequin, neither more important than the other.
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