Bending The Rules
Slinking down the catwalk in the finale gown at Jean Paul Gaultier during Paris Fashion week, it is hard not to be captivated by the model with the perfectly quaffed blonde hair, impossibly high cheekbones and bee-stung lips. Boasting an unbelievable figure; with slim hips and narrow shoulders that designers dream of, on the return run of the catwalk it is certain; this is the new ‘It’ girl of fashion.
Except she is a he.
Andrej Pejic, the intimidatingly beautiful 19-year old from Melbourne has taken the fashion world by storm, becoming the face of the new wave of androgyny. He is as comfortable in a wedding gown as he is in a suit and, as shown in a recent spread for Australian Vogue, consistently outshines his female conterparts. It’s a move forward in the continuing trend of desexualizing fashion, and to an extent, our expectation of what is ’sexy’. By this neutralising of gender, the fashion world is presenting an amorphous beauty – one that enhances the collection rather than overpowering it.
I won’t lie and say that I’m not envious of Pejic, and it’s hardly easy to comprehend a man is the most beautiful (and dare I say it, sexy) face in fashion. It’s easy to dismiss him as a flash in the pan, but his presence in both men’s and women’s fashion is undeniable. He’s everywhere from the runways, to campaigns and editorials.
It’s an interesting prospect that the ideal figure for womenswear isn’t a woman’s at all. With the amount of exposure and notoriety Pejic has gained for his body of work, it seems that now the rule du jour in order to model couture gowns, you have to be born with XY chromosomes. Lea T, Riccardo Tisci’s current muse, is biologically male – yet is beating out genetically female models for major covers and campaigns, even outshining Kate Moss on the cover of Love Magazine.
Although this new wave of androgyny is grabbing the public’s attention, this isn’t necessarily a new trend. Teri Toye, who is openly transgendered, was the muse for Stephen Sprouse long before Lea signed her Givenchy contract and, seen in the 1994 M.A.C campaign, Rupaul – a biological male – was dressed almost as Wonder Woman under the slogan ” I am the M.A.C. girl”. But is this simply a shock tactic to generate publicity, or is it a challenge against what is acceptable for a male to be depicted doing, and what it means to be ‘feminine’?
Sure, we’ve all dabbled in dressing with a masculine edge, the high street has long offered ‘boyfriend’ fit jeans and cardigans, and I’ll always choose a men’s white shirt over a fitted women’s one, but it seems as if this flirtation with bending the rules has been kicked into overdrive. It’s not simply just stealing a boyfriends shirt to grab the paper in, or drag queens sashaying in a sea of sequins; it’s a complete removal of the rules of fashion. And it’s not just the boys playing dress up, Lady GaGa recently embraced her inner drag king for a spread in Vogue Hommes Japan, looking every part the handsome male model.
So boys can be girls and girls can be boys, but will this rebellion of the sexes have staying power? It will be interesting to see whether this gender-bending trend will continue in future seasons, or whether we’ll be pushed back into our own gendered corners, but as long as it’s in vogue, fashion will be kept interesting.