It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the gender-bending undercurrent began to flow through fashion. Whether it’s Coco Chanel lounging around in men’s pyjamas or Yves Saint Laurent designing his famous Le Smoking tuxedo for women, mannish looks on women have never really gone out of style.
But in the past two years, androgyny has become increasingly trendy. Just when you think it’s about to die down, it surges back up again, starting with the boyfriend jacket and jean phenomenon that swept 2008 and moving on through to fashion’s current obsession with suiting and tailoring. Meanwhile, H&M has gone unisex for its new Fashion Against AIDS collection, which hit stores last week, and CK One now includes jeans and underwear for both men and women. On the high fashion front, designer Rad Hourani continues to earn buzz — and critical acclaim — for his genderless collection of separates.
Factor in the fact that designers are increasingly showing more continuity between their men’s and women’s collections with some looks practically mirroring each other and you have a full-on moment.
But are the personal style sensibilities of women and men really merging off the runway? Ask any woman what her boyfriend prefers to see her in, and nine times out of 10, she’ll say a t-shirt and jeans, not the elaborate looks she’s bookmarked on her favourite street style blogs.