How Lil Nas X and others are reinventing menswear

Hear the glamazons and high fashion darlings – the fashionistos are taking over.

Look no further than camera flashes on the red carpet to see this dress change in-game.

At this year’s Oscars, Timothée Chalamet ditched the usual black and white tuxedo, opting to go shirtless alongside his Louis Vuitton blazer with sequins, enhanced with delicate lace cuffs. Sebastian Stan brightened up the Met Gala red carpet in May with an exuberant fuchsia suit by Valentino. And Lil Nas X brought a campy touch to the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, wearing a feathered black skirt and matching Harris Reed headpiece.

“2022 could be the first year in recorded history where male celebrities stole the show from female celebrities on the red carpet,” said Dirk Standen, professor of fashion marketing and management at Savannah College of Art and Design.

This growing diversity makes it what Standen calls “a golden age of menswear” – for celebrities and non-celebrities alike.

“I don’t think there’s ever been so many options in terms of labels and creators,” Standen says. “Celebrities and regular consumers are expressing their individual style in exciting new ways.”

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Men’s fashion on TikTok democratizes, promotes individuality

Men are turning the internet into a workshop for their evolving fashion sense.

Standen says that while celebrity style can still wield some power, social media has given everyday men a voice in the evolution of menswear.

“Obviously these red carpet images are doing the rounds on social media and of course having an influence, but at the same time you see a lot of these trends starting on TikTok and working their way into society from away,” Standen said. . “It’s much more of a two-way street than one thing influencing the other.”

Fashion nanoinfluencer Cruz Rendon has taken to social media to create a platform for their dynamic, gender-nonconforming looks, which also draw inspiration from their Mexican heritage.

“Anyone can be a tastemaker now, and all it really takes is your phone, a camera, your own confidence and sense of style,” says Rendon, who has amassed nearly 4,500 followers on Instagram and secured brand partnerships with UGG and Amazon Fashion.

Such bold individuality is rubbing off on Hollywood, too, says Barnette Holston, a Washington DC-based fashion influencer with more than 70,000 followers, as evidenced by the unique looks of male celebrities like Jeff Goldblum and Lakeith Stanfield.

“If you look at how Hollywood celebrities dressed, they were sort of run by the movie industry,” which “I want them to feel like what they saw on screen is what they did in real life,” Holston says. “There are guys (now who) are braver and willing to take these big fashion risks.”

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Throw away the gender rulebook

Gone are the days of T-shirts and jeans or ties and dress pants that dominated men’s shelves.

Back in November, Kid Cudi turned the CFDA Fashion Awards red carpet into a wedding affair with her wedding dress-inspired outfit. During his iHeartRadio Jingle Ball performance in December, Lil Nas X wore a metallic silver plaid skirt. And in June, Bad Bunny daringly paired a black mesh top with a two-tone plaid skirt for a concert appearance.

Men like Lil Nas X, left, and Kid Cudi are increasingly embracing gender fluidity in their fashion choices.  Lil Nas X wore a metallic silver plaid skirt during his iHeartRadio Jingle Ball performance in December, while Kid Cudi wore a wedding dress-inspired outfit on the red carpet at the CFDA Fashion Awards in November.

“Celebrities, especially musicians, have always incorporated what were traditionally considered women’s clothing into their wardrobes, and often it’s been done to shock or at least be provocative,” Standen said. “But today’s stars do it in a much less forced and more natural way. They’re not trying to break the rules: they’re saying the old rules don’t apply anymore.”

Celebrity stylist Tiffany Briseno, who works closely with pop singer Shawn Mendes, says she takes inspiration from transgender style icons such as Freddie Mercury, Jimi Hendrix and Robert Plant.

“They all had their own individual style, and a lot of them were free to express that, so that’s what we’re drawn to,” Briseno said. “They broke the mold at that time and…especially as a musician, you just want to do something that really sounds like you.”

Stylist Tiffani Moreno says the flowing ensembles seen on the red carpet help expand “people’s imaginations of what people can do on a daily basis.” Moreno, who plays actor Cole Sprouse, said the ‘Riverdale’ star “really likes to play with fashion” and is open to her “feminine approach” to style.

“It’s not just about t-shirts and jeans or just a plain suit,” says Moreno. “It can be something that has wide legs with ruffles and a silk shirt underneath. It can be something that is a very bright color.”

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New fashion reflects retailer reluctance

While you might see this playful wave of menswear popping up on the red carpet or on your newsfeed, you might have a harder time spotting it in your local mall.

Lucia Cuba Oroza, assistant professor of fashion design and social justice at The New School, says that despite this increase in experimentation, mainstream menswear remains “very heteronormative” and “very binary”, while the industry of fashion as a whole continues to promote conservative societal norms.

“There’s still so much work to do…opening up more channels to start a conversation about diversity,” Oroza says, particularly in terms of “the opportunity that clothing gives us to engage in recognition.” of ourselves in society”. .”

London-based fashion designer Thomas Newbury says this lack of access may contribute to men’s reluctance to embrace cutting-edge fashion, as they lack the mass recognition or appeal of celebrities.

“If you want something that’s not so stereotypical, then you have to go to the women’s section of the store, which for a lot of men is a lot scarier, so then it seems like there’s no public for it when there maybe, but if it’s not available, you can’t join,” says Newbury.

Briseno says the “disconnect” between non-traditional menswear and its availability in commercial fashion is also apparent at the celebrity level.

“To find these very unique and more editorial, avant-garde pieces for my clients, I have to go directly to the designers that I know who make them, because if I went to Nordstrom or Bloomingdale’s and I went to the men’s department , some parts… just don’t exist there,” says Briseno.

But perhaps there is hope that this gap will one day be closed. Rendon says “there wasn’t much expression within your own walls” during times of COVID-19 isolation, interest in expressive fashion is growing as the world continues to reopen.

“Now people are out in the world and able to be a bit more playful,” Rendon said. “People are eager to really show themselves as themselves or express themselves creatively, so we’re moving in a direction where whimsical and fun silhouettes are becoming the norm.”

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