As someone who has long enjoyed buying and wearing many a men’s crew neck, jacket and jean, I’m quietly getting a thrill out of seeing Jaden Smith model women’s wear in Louis Vuitton’s newest campaign AND Harry Styles walk around in heels in the same week. Months earlier, Diana Ross’s son Evan bragged about sharing outfits with his wife Ashlee Simpson. And I’ve seen more than a few men on the fashion circuit wearing Gucci’s new gender bending is-it-men’s-or-women’s blouses.
Maybe the moment is an extension of the general feeling of fluidity in the air, an idea helped along by the work of J.W. Anderson and Gucci’s Alessandro Michele who have both been softening up the look of men’s wear with traditionally feminine frills and fabrics.
Or maybe it's is an extension of this general state of ‘zero effs’ we’re all in — meaning, the inescapable Internet meme, which has come to refer to the idea of no longer caring to meet the narrow expectation of others. Zero effs is that specific, freeing moment in time when you are 210% about doing you. That’s a liberating place to be right?
Jaden Smith has clearly reached it, appearing in Louis Vuitton’s ss16 ads alongside Jean Campbell, Sarah Brannon and Rianne Van Rompaey in a skirt, something he’s no stranger to after having been photographed last year at Coachella wearing a dress that could have come straight out of his sister Willow’s closet. Months earlier, he posted an image on Instagram of the ‘girls clothes’ he bought at Topshop. In an Instagram posted yesterday, Willow waved the flag for fluidity in typical florid fashion by saying, 'Males and females are put into boxes of expectation when we are born. As we grow we start to raise the damages that those expectations cause to our spiritual and emotional understanding of ourselves and life. The more we start to realise that we are all the same and infinitely different at the same time, the more we begin to shed those expectations and live free to continue to uplift the essence of Earth.'
And then there’s Harry Styles who has confessed to preferring the fit of women’s Paige denim. What’s next Kanye West in a pussy bow? If anyone could pull it off, Yeezy could after showing us back in 2011 that a women’s Céline blouse could make just as much sense on a rapper’s torso as an NBA jersey. Women’s clothing, with all its choice of shape, silhouette, construction, texture and colour, is fun. Why wouldn’t men want to explore ways to express themselves through this? After decades of women collectively giving credit to the appeal of a well-tailored Le Smoking or a distressed boyfriend jean, it’s time for men to own up to the feel-good aspect of a great dress for a change, amiright?
As the men's shows soldier on, it’s exciting to see how a gradual shift towards greater acceptance of gender noncomformity (even if through the smallest of baby steps) has led to a place where men, no matter what their sexual preference, can wear clothing that falls outside of the straight, butch box and not be shamed for it.
History is filled with men, straight and gay, serving sex appeal and swagger in catsuits, tights and skirts: the late David Bowie Ziggy Stardusting it out in the 70s, Prince singlehandedly bringing the blouse back in the 80s, or Marc Jacobs giving legs of steel in his trademark kilts during the early aughts. How fun would it be to see hip hop’s hardest MCs stunting in pink leather the way the Furious Five did forever ago? Maybe it’s all coming full-circle: as the son of Will ‘Fresh Prince’ Smith, Jaden is technically hip-hop royalty. Zero effs indeed.