Boot cut, wide leg, skinny, jumpsuit, palazzo, straight or flared – this month’s issue of Marie Claire and its theme of androgyny makes me extra thankful for Coco Chanel and her gift of fashionable pants to all womankind.
Coco Chanel on the street of Cannes in 1939 wearing white pants and a blazer.
Despite what many might assume, androgyny does not equate to women that look like men, or vice versa. Androgyny means gender-free: pink does not mean girl, blue does not mean boy – although historically it was reversed.
According to the Smithsonian,com, a Ladies’ Home Journal article published in the 1918 said, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”
Behind the scenes of our July cover shoot with Shikin Gomez and Alicia Amin
But I digress. My point is, genderisation of colour, our behaviour (men are brutish, women are delicate) and other aspects of our lives, were created by people. They’re social constructs created by men and women like us. Like a child building a Lego house gone wrong (think all windows and not a single door), there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t demolish it and make something that works better for everyone.
American actress Katherine Hepburn did just that. Considered a fashion rebel just for wearing what I wore to work today – a loose men’s shirt and slacks, she prioritised her own comfort over the trend of girdles and garters. In one of her interviews with Barbara Lovenheim, founding editor of NYCitywoman.com, Hepburn quipped: “I wore pants when they weren’t fashionable; I sat down on the curb if I was tired; I did what I wanted and what I thought was reasonable so long as I didn’t hurt anyone. But is that so unusual?”— stressing the laughable nature of genderised fashion.
Alexander Wang Pre-Fall 2017
You don’t have to sport a pixie cut and wear men’s clothes to be a proponent of androgyny. Just live, and let live. So what if your brother wants to borrow your eyeliner? Just make sure he puts the cap back on (or you’ll destroy him).
Beyond the freedom of choosing a pair of trousers over a skirt, androgyny has paved the way for the kind of self-expression that spins the world dizzily on a technicolour beat. It’s choice, amplified. Can you imagine someone telling the likes of Prince, David Bowie, Michael Jackson or the inimitable Grace Jones to conform to the typical? Worse yet, can you imagine what it’d be like if they had actually listened?
The queen of the universe, Grace Jones