The year of gender-fluid fashion

Emma Stone in Louis Vuitton (CELEBMAFIA), Beatrice Luigi Gomez in Francis Libiran (@FRANCISLIBIRAN8), Riyo Mori (@RIYOMORI_), Symone in Michael Schmidt Studios (@SANCHEZZALBA)

THERE are monumentally stupid politicians in the US who are introducing legislation to make it illegal for children to be exposed to drag queens, falsely claiming that people who wear wigs, heels and makeup pose a danger to impressionable minds. Clearly, these idiots forgot how their Founding Fathers appeared when performing their civic duties.

I hope their small brains become deep-fried every time they see people of all classes defy gender norms when it comes to dressing, as it has been deemed that 2022 is “the year of gender-fluid fashion.” At the New York Spring/Summer 2022 presentations, the dominant theme was genderless design codes, with Helmut Lang showcasing a singular, unisex Spring 2022 collection.

In recent seasons, fashion is pushing—or reinforcing—gender neutrality forward, with genderless capsule collections that encourage gender-fluid dressing in one’s daily life, and not just for fantastical red-carpet appearances. Needless to say, we love Billy Porter and Lil Nas X when they flaunt their flamboyance this way.

Hereabouts, it’s screen superstar Vice Ganda who exemplifies this nonbinary, gender-nonconforming boldness in extravagant dressing, usually in haute-couture creations by the boundary-pushing and gender-defying designer Jaggy Glarino.

Gender fluidity is not just Vice Ganda in a voluminous ballgown. It can also be Beatrice Luigi Gomez in an androgynous Francis Libiran Bespoke suit in wool brocade. The Miss Universe 2021 Top Five finalist wore this stunning ensemble as her first step-down outfit as she was about to crown the next Miss Universe Philippines, a look reminiscent of the iconic tuxedo worn by Miss Universe 2007 Riyo Mori during her final walk.

Symone, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13, didn’t wear an elaborate dress when she relinquished her crown to Willow Pill. The Ebony Enchantress wore a custom Swarovski crystal-encrusted deconstructed denim jeans, Louboutins and resin-saturated wet look T-shirt by Michael Schmidt Studios in collaboration with Marko Monroe and The House of Avalon.

That unexpected fashion statement reminded me of when Emma Stone, a year after she won her Oscar for La La Land, wore a pantsuit to present at the 2018 Oscars. She wore atypical Louis Vuitton satin coordinates.

Meanwhile, menswear is also blurring—or demolishing—the gender lines. The Thom Browne Swim 2022 is entirely unisex and can be mixed and matched. The designer explains his collection via a poem:

“genesis…the creation of thom…hers is his…his is hers…for a dip…a stroke…a dive…half and half…for any and all…to swim…or not to swim…”

Raf Simons, the Belgian designer who is a staunch proponent of genderless design, reimagines the classic business uniform for the Spring/Summer 2022 season.

The Zurich-based VTMNTS, born under Vetements under the sole creative lead Guram Gvasalia, presented stomach-baring, cropped jacket ensembles, loose double-layer trousers, hot pants and thigh-high boots. “This collection is about gender equality. It’s about knowing who you are, and standing for your beliefs,” explains Guram Gvasalia. “It’s time for the minority to get the voice and become the majority. Humanity is not mass production, each life counts, each human being counts. The world is changing, and so should fashion!”

For now, the beautiful embodiment and fiercest champion of gender fluidity in fashion is English-American designer Harris Reed, who can be 6 feet 9 in 5-inch platform boots. Fresh from his graduation from Central Saint Martins, Anna Wintour asked him to design a ball gown for Harry Styles for his Vogue December 2020 cover story.

“I’d like to eradicate the categories of menswear and womenswear,” Reed told Harper’s Bazaar in November 2020. “Fluidity offers an alternate way of being, crossing and merging masculine and feminine.”

For its April 2022 issue, Harper’s Bazaar UK features Reed wearing his creation in a special cover marking the Victoria & Albert Museum’s new exhibition, “Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear.”

In the cover feature, Reed writes: “Every single day is a fight when you’re the outlier. But it’s worth the fight. It’s hard to hear things like ‘Ew, that’s gross, why is there a man in a dress?’, or to make some people realise that wearing a blouse doesn’t mean that you’re anything more than someone who just wants to have fun with fashion.” n

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