Male Music Celebs Push the Genderless Fashion Trend

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“Fashion has no gender,” words infamously spoken by “Glee’s” Kurt Hummel during the prime of the musical TV series. Little did anyone know at the time that that statement would come to permeate the bigger conversation around genderless fashion, and fashion that goes beyond gender would become a buzzword. In 2017, genderless fashion became the subject of wagging tongues when H&M launched a genderless fashion line. That same year, genderless Parisian brand Avoc won the ANDAM award, awarded $129,000 to grow their business.

While this at first seemed like a movement limited to a niche audience or just the fashion- insider crowd, genderless fashion has become a bigger conversation in 2019 thanks to popular music celebrities. In 2016 when rapper Young Thug wore a dress by Alessandro Trincone on the cover of his 2016 album, Jeffrey, music and fashion blogs went into a tailspin. Conversations erupted about Young Thug’s sexuality, black masculinity, and specifically, masculinity in hip-hop. What the internet couldn’t quite seem to grasp was that Young Thug was simply a man in a dress; not a drag queen, not a transgender person, just a man in a dress.

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The notion of male music stars defying gender norms is not a new development of the 21st century, as some recent reviews on celebrity style would make you believe. David Bowie, as Ziggy Stardust, was one of the kings of camp and was known for his androgynous, femme chic style that included bright red platform boots to flamboyant Comme des Garçons jumpsuits. Bowie begin to redefine what fashion could be for stylish men. Suit and ties weren’t his typical style, and no one asked that of him.

Bowie’s rise came on the heels of the glamrock era, where performers were known for their over-the-top costumes, defying gender stereotype. The glamrock era would eventually lead to the legendary careers of artists like Freddie Mercury of Queen, Elton John. and Iggy Pop.

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Freddie Mercury’s penchant for campy glamour resurfaced years after his death in the 2018 Oscar-winning film Bohemian Rhapsody. Quick google searches began for Freddie Mercury and his style, which included everything from patterned kimonos to rainbow colored, paneled jackets.

Of course, there was one person from the early 80s whose style transcended boundaries like no one else, none other than the most supreme Prince. Prince Rogers Nelson took the world by storm with his signature high notes, larger than life stage presence, and his genderbending fashion choices that completely changed the way people thought about gender norms. From his shoe collection that would make even the ladies shoe department at Nordstrom jealous to his to his colorful suits that brought about the popularity of New York’s Trash & Vaudeville, Prince was first a music icon, and second a fashion icon.

In the last several years, musicians’ approach to gender fluid fashions has increased . Grammy winner Sam Smith came out as gender fluid in 2017 and has been known to don both men’s and women’s clothing telling LGBT publication Attitude “I feel just as much a woman as I am a man.”

Young, gay pop star Troye Sivan has also challenged gender norms by wearing brands like Palomo Spain. Known for its campy, Victorian style, Palomo Spain has earned an impressive celebrity clientele which includes not only Sivan, but actor Cody Fern and even Beyoncé Knowles, who wore a Palomo Spain dress when she debuted a photo of her new twins Rumi and Sir Knowles-Carter.

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Former One Direction member Harry Styles began to challenge the notion of how men should dress at this year’s Met Gala where the theme was camp. Styles wore an all-black outfit, with sheer top with ruffled neckline, his nails were painted, and he had a pearl earring in one ear. It was a subtle but major screw you to ideas of masculinity and how men should dress that was perfect timing in this social climate.

 While gender fluid fashions have been looked at as something that’s a trend for daring celebrities or primarily confined to a niche market, things have now taken a precipitous turn. In past decades, musicians and celebrities had the power and influence to move the genderbending fashion needle. Now, that fashion needle is being nudged by the consumer.

Costume National fall 2015

Now the urban streetwear phenomenon is global, it is important to acknowledge the role that hip-hop artists of the 80s and 90s played in this booming trend. In that mold, pop music stars of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s gave re-invented skintight pants and crop top looks. Now, pop artists of this decade are redefining the way we perceive gendered fashion. Maybe, in the foreseeable fashion will not be dictated by gender, but by mood and what makes you feel good!!

—Kristopher Fraser

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