Top Trend: Masculine Dressing
There is nothing like a woman in a “man’s suit”. Greta Garbo and Katharine Hepburn knew before many how practical menswear could be. But it was perhaps Diane Keaton’s turn as the lead character in the 1977 film Annie Hall that first really showed women how to adapt and adjust menswear to the female form instead of the other way around.
This spring/summer 2018 season womenswear suiting is seeing an interesting shift, where the sizing is getting increasingly exaggerated while at the same time the embellishments, and sometimes the execution have become more feminine. In terms of sizing Sarah Burton presented on the Alexander McQueen catwalk a black and white checked suit that featured prominent shoulders and a nipped in hourglass waistline that proved itself to be a nice yin/yang balance of the sartorial sexes. And, in what would end up being Phoebe Philo’s final runway show for Celine, the brand’s suit jackets were cut with a cropped design that finished off in long hanging strips of fabric that fell to the floor. Garments that were highly artistic, if not exactly practical for everyday use.
The masculine energy at Daks gave a modernistic approach to what women might want to wear in their daily professional life. The regular white shirt along with a high-wasted striped wide trousers would be a smart choice for any professional appointment, and is a clear descendent of the Annie Hall vestimentary ethos. Conversely Haider Ackermann offered up a more sensual version of the suit, exposing slices of skin in the construction of his suit jacket that he paired with skinny trousers to create a new sort of power suit that embraced the strength of the female form instead of covering it up. Then at Givenchy designer Clare Waight Keller reworked the popular long military overcoat and made it a sophisticated belted dress-coat, which added a sexy pizzazz to the military rigor of the look’s starting point.
At Nina Ricci too designer Guillaume Henry explored the ideal of uniform shapes, but cut his collection in more feminine colors and fabrics. The army style was emphasized thanks to a wide range of accessories and details like enlisted men’s hats and capes that referenced the heritage of the French military. Henry also gave incorporated more feminine tropes via the collections belts and pumps. Moreover, using bright and happy colors like yellow and fabrics like silk made the collection even more viable for heavy rotation in a spring/summer wardrobe.
Demna Gvasalia pushed things forward in a uniquely daring way at Balenciaga. He offered a rebellious and progressive collection for the house by reworking the masculine look by playing with the fabrics and cuts. The perfect example being a XXL glossy vinyl green menswear shirt that he paired with a pencil skirt and accessorized with a looping chain and gold belt. It made for a modern and masculine-feminine combo. Also The Balenciaga range of footwear from heels to boots contributed to making each a sartorial balancing act of the sexes.
Obviously, the trend towards showing menswear and womenswear together on the runways have blurred the boundaries and changed visual norms. Opening the doors wide to the so called “androgynous fashion”. There is no denying that there is an up tick in more more unisex clothes and the current trend of exaggerated or oversized silhouettes are by nature designed to obscure the identifying forms of the body, thus creating more gender neutral fashion.
At the end of the day it is important to remember why women first started stealing the clothing from the men in their life to wear themselves. It was about freedom- on a lot of different levels. And…let’s be honest, women really do rock menswear better that most men ever could.
Jessica Michault is the Senior Vice President of industry relations at GPS Radar by Launchmetrics. She is also the editor-at-large for ODDA magazine and contributes to publications like the New York Times, the Business of Fashion, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Mixte magazine.
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