Inspired by today’s debate about gender identity I recalled reading about some interesting articles about new trends in the contemporary fashion industry some time ago. The fashion industry is known for being rather liberal in terms of sexual preference and gender identity. In fact, many of the world’s most important fashion designers are gay or bisexual. Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Marc Jacobs and Giorgio Armani are some of the most influential characters in haute couture. Most of these major players have been working in the fashion industry for over a decade, and as society became more tolerant regarding sexual preference and identity, so became their taste in models. This brings me to the topic I would like to discuss in this blog, the fashion industries newest trend: androgyny.
Androgyny is a term describing the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics. However, it does not necessarily refer to inter-sexed physicality, as it also refers to sexual identity, lifestyle and fashion. Androgyny is the newest trend in the high fashion world, which is reflected in the recent success of numerous androgynous models. One of these models is Andrej Pejic.
The 20-year-old Australian model, who was born in Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina, is the perfect example of popular culture’s growing tolerance towards alternative lifestyles. He was scouted at the age of 16 and quickly became a sensation in the fashion world. In 2011 he walked both the men’s and the women’s show for Jean-Paul Gautier, as well as the men’s show for Marc Jacobs. He’s one of the first, if not the first, model to walk men’s and women’s shows and has since become one of the most sought after models in haute couture. Not only is he one of the top 20 male models in the world, he was also voted no. 98 in FHM’s 100 Sexiest WOMEN in the world (however, FHM removed him from the list after the listing caused controversy). Besides his success in the fashion world, he was also granted an audience with Queen Elizabeth and numerous other important figures of our society, reflecting the growing acceptance of the otherness.
Androgyny adds a new flavor to the gender identity discussion. Rather than choosing sides, androgynous people can chose the way they want to give themselves without any surgical alterations and still blend into society. In fact, they do not necessarily have to choose either lifestyle at all, as society somewhat accepts them either way. A few very interesting comments regarding the role Pejic identifies himself with are made in this video:
He chooses no particular role but likes to keep his options open. This being said, he himself chooses gender neutrality, by not committing to either side.
Although gender neutrality is a rather rare occurrence and somewhat limited by looks, growing tolerance of otherness in contemporary culture creates ground for more unchained personal expression. As society becomes more liberal it gives way for the grotesque.
Here are some more images very much related to our topic: