Girls who are boys, who like boys to be girls

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Saskia de Brauw for Saint Laurent S/S 2013

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Brad Pitt for Chanel No. 5

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Casey Legler, the 6' 2'' female artist signed as male model by agency ''Ford Models''.

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Andrej Pejic

It's been a while now that I wanted to address and discuss with you this growing trend with gender-lines becoming even more blurred in the fashion industry.

Back in May, Brad Pitt was named the first male face to endorse the iconic fragrance Chanel No. 5. In November, we watched the trailer of the rather unorthodox Chanel No. 5 spot and I guess there are two categories: those who love it; and those who hate it. Nothing in between. On the other hand, Maureen Chiquet, C.E.O. of Chanel still supports that the choice of Brad Pitt to articulate the male response to a female scent "was obvious," explaining that "No. 5 is the most iconic fragrance of our time, and Brad Pitt is the most iconic actor of our time''.

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Before that, it was Andrej Pejic, the delicately featured male who works almost exclusively as a female model. He has walked on every major catwalk and he has landed numerous advertising campaigns for brands like Marc by Marc Jacobs (S/S 2011), Jean Paul Gaultier (S/S 2011) and Auslander (S/S 2012) to name only a few.

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Casey Legler is the first female male model to be signed by model agency ''Ford Models''. She is an artist in New York City and from an interview of her I read here , she approached the whole ''gender identity'' issue as ''a conversation of freedom''. You can watch her video-interview below:

Finally, last week Hedi Slimane, the creative director of the label Saint Laurent has chosen Saskia de Brauw to front the campaign for his debut men's spring/summer 2013 collection. She has previously modelled menswear in Givenchy's S/S 2013 catwalk by designer Ricardo Tisci thanks to her androgynous features and string bone structure. Hedi Slimane's gender-neutral iconography is already known from his successful years in Dior Homme. Even from back then, there were lots of women who were buying and wearing pieces from his menswear collection due to his super skinny trousers and slim-cut tailoring. Therefore, it doesn't come as a surprise that Saint Laurent's collection for next summer is suitable for both men and women. As a matter of fact, this is what this campaign is all about- all of the clothes featured are available to both genders.

From conversations I have had all these years with male (straight) friends, the main question they are addressing to me is: for what reasons designers and in general the fashion industry promotes super slim, almost anorexic, flat-chested girls so much, that have nothing to do with real-life women? In a rather simplistic explanation, it seems they believe that this is happening because most of the fashion designers are gay, as well as most of the males that work in this industry, who in reality they hate women, and they most probably imagine women's clothing worn by themselves or their gay friends....

But, I am not sure this is the truth. At least not the whole part. As a designer I know that when I design I certainly think of myself wearing something or not. And I know from other designers that they think in the same way too. But then again, fashion is also a business and in fact a multi-billion one. So a lot of money is involved. Women are proved to be the big spenders and that is why commercials are mostly targeted to them. So what would be the point for designers to make clothing unattractive to women?

Over the last decade, gay community has been greatly empowered and accepted by society- indeed so much, that this current season there are numerous TV-series like ''Modern Family'' or ''The new normal'' to name only a few, which depict the life of gay couples with kids. And with a masters in fashion marketing, I know that gays have also a great spending power.

So is this the reason why these last couple of years we get to see an upward trend of 'girls who are boys' and boys that look like girls? If collections are designed for both men -or is its more accurate to say gay men, as it is mostly them who buy designer's clothes and adopt eccentric trends- and women, is it for economic reasons? Or are these 'new' directions going to lead us in a more free society?

I guess it is up to us, the consumers, to decide. And as we live in democratic societies, I guess we have the right to say what we like and what we don't like without getting judged for our opinion. Because lately, it feels to me that sometimes too much freedom can lead us to the exact opposite results!

I will close this post with, in my opinion, the most case-appropriate song: ''Girls and boys'' by ''Blur''.


Have a great day!


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