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Is fashion moving away from the notion of gender?

Fashion is reflecting an era that is increasingly freeing itself from gender norms: after the unisex wardrobe, it is now time for “gender fluid” fashion, which consists of freely navigating from a man’s to a woman’s wardrobe to play with sexual identities and use every possible means to define one’s style. 

In December 2020, for the first time in history, American Vogue featured a single man on the cover of the magazine. This man, posing in a woman’s outfit, in this case a custom-made Gucci dress, is the singer Harry Styles, who claims to want to break traditional fashion codes by manifesting his desire to create a fluid approach between the male and female genders. Speaking in the pages of Vogue about the traditional distinction between masculinity and femininity, Harry Styles believes that boundaries must disappear to open a new era: “What’s really exciting is that all of these lines are just kind of crumbling away. When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women,’ once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play.” Gender diktats in clothing represent mental boundaries beyond dress codes that need to be crossed, as he explains: “I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing. It’s like anything—anytime you’re putting barriers up in your own life, you’re just limiting yourself. There’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes.”


Harry Styles is not the only one to claim such an approach. Today, many influencers and stars are breaking gender norms and promoting a new fluidity between the masculine and feminine on social networks, in the media or elsewhere. Like Billy Porter who came to the Oscars in 2019 wearing a Christian Siriano dress, Bilal Hassani who regularly wears make-up and often wears long wigs, or Sam Smith who declares himself “non-binary.” In fashion, designer Marc Jacobs appears in his daily life on social networks in dresses, wedge heels, and painted nails, and models like Rain Dove, playing on the ambiguity of their physique, parade for the men’s and women’s collections. In an interview for the Fashion Network media, the latter believes she has no time to be hampered by inequalities and believes that “the next big step is to simply abandon the male and female labels.”


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