Introduction

Andrej Pejic has had a busy year, and it’s only just past half way. Walking the catwalk for both Gaultier and Marc Jacobs, he has also bagged an advertising campaign from both and netted the front cover of three major magazines in three different countries. The unusual thing about this 19 year old model is that he is grabbing jobs as a woman. Having walked the Gaultier couture show in Paris wearing a revealing, frilly wedding dress, has the gender-bending and androgyny of fashion gone too far?

Burberry Boy?

Talking to a friend of mine, we started to browse Burberry.com. It was the time of the A/W 2010 campaign, and as we gawped open mouthed at the flowing trench coats and the inviting shearling, my finger tapped the computer screen over the face of Douglas Booth, Burberry boy, actor of Boy George and owner of glass cutting cheek bones [see our break down of the actors style here].

“Doesn’t he look fantastic” was my comment; however my un-fashion conscious friend (by ‘browsing’ Burberry.com I did mean ‘educating in’) blurted;

“He? That’s not a man!”

Spot the Difference - Douglas Booth in the A/W 2010 Burberry Campaign Shots

Androgyny In Fashion

As a writer, enthusiast and indulger in male fashion, I hadn’t heard this viewpoint before. Androgyny is rife in male fashion, on the catwalks of Burberry, J.W Anderson, E. Tautz, Yves Saint Laurent, Topman Design, the majority of other labels too. However to this sweet, fashion naïve creature, the concept of androgyny remained as incongruous as, well, androgyny.

Classic examples of androgynous dressing and styling on the mens catwalks

Literally meaning a male with female features or aspects and vice versa, androgyny has always been present on the catwalk, but is only now becoming part of the fashion. Pejic is both the poster boy and girl for this trend, he having been a major talking point after the Gaultier couture catwalk. Gaultier’s A/W Menswear was just as contentious; Pejic making an appearance in a deconstructed blazer and a gold and fur number, brandishing golden heels.

Andrej Pejic on both the men and women Gaultier Runways

Not every designer is as blunt as Gaultier in their pursuit of this trend, however androgyny has been cemented on the catwalk for years. There are designers like Dolce & Gabbana that do not indulge in the trend, with the likes of muscle abundant David Gandy modelling skimpy underwear and little else. This year in Milan, Vivienne Westwood put her satirical view on the trend [below left], putting voluptuous red lipstick onto her models (and didn’t they pull it off well?).

Androgyny goes both ways. Burberry have recently been flaunting the more chiselled masculine look of Nina Porter on the runway and in the Burberry Beauty campaign alongside the feminine goddess Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Lily Donaldson [below right].

Vivienne Westwood Male models with lipstick / Striking Nina Porter with fellow Burberry Models Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Lily Donaldson

High street brand H&M have even launched a unisex clothing line for the Fashion Against AIDS campaign – showing the disease can affect both the male and female.

H&M Fashion Against AIDS Unisex Line

Another brand that prides itself on androgyny is The Kooples (read our guide to the brand here). The brand is all about couples and how their individual style complements each other. Girls throwing on their boyfriend’s blazer or t-shirts is what The Kooples is all about, the brand making it clear in their catalogue;

Do you lend each other clothes?
“Yeah, I love stealing his clothes, it makes me feel like he’s with me at all times.”
Anna

The Kooples - Real Couples Borrowing each others clothes

David Gandy has talked of how he was ‘laughed off for the first couple of years’ as he searched for a modelling job, simply due to his muscle. The trend was ‘skinny guys who look unwell’ and it still is, but is that a problem? It’s a difficult dilemma; it would be odd to see the Burberry boy being anything but slim and just as strange seeing the D&G man without his 6 pack – maybe that’s what it’s all about.

The models complement the brand and clothes; if androgyny works for one brand and not the other then that’s fine, it’s all about the clothing designers vision and identity. I cannot see a negative for androgyny as much as I can’t see a negative for muscular models. Fashion is Art, and how it is expressed is always going to be unique, and thank God for that.

The Debate

But what do you think? We want your opinion on:

  • Has androgyny gone too far?
  • Would you rather see catwalk models looking like typical men? Would they be easier to relate to? Or is it all part of the show?
  • Have you ever shopped in the girls section (or a girls shop) for clothing/accessories?
  • Does your girlfriend/partner/wife ever borrow your clothes?
  • Have the lines blurred nowadays in regards to true male and female items?
  • Has your partner ever stolen any of your personal looks or outfit combinations?

Let us know in the comments below…

The Androgyny Test

So now a bit of fun on a Friday. We have explored the whole concept of androgyny within fashion today, but could you tell the difference between men and women’s clothes? Below there are a selection of very similar pieces of clothing and accessories. Could you tell which ones are male and which ones are female just by looking?

This is only a bit of fun, but just goes to show how many styles are crossing the gender boundaries these days. You have women wearing on trend brogues and boyfriend blazers, men wearing skinny or spray on jeans, both genders rocking Breton tees, pastel coloured chinos and the like. Even our own Matt Allinson encouraged you all to look in the women’s section for bags this week in his what to pack for the beach article, as they are “genderless”.

So try not to cheat, and see if you can spot the difference - just click the product to see if you were right. It is amazing the sheer number of items that are on trend for both sexes this year:

  • Salzburg Shirt
  • Washed bubblegum skinny carrot
  • Stratus Silva
  • Navy Tapered Trousers
  • J Brand cotton pants
  • STONE BLUE SKINNY BLAZER
  • MAGIC Black Patent Brogues
  • Tan Washed Brogue
  • Dune LANDON lace up brogue
  • ASOS Canvas Buckle Holdall
  • Black Leather Sporty Shopper Bag
  • Red Window School Satchel
  • Olavo Jacket
  • Paul & Joe Sister Georges Double Breasted Swing Mackintosh
  • Acid Wash Denim Gilet
  • ASOS Leather Boyfriend Belt
  • Black International Polar Quilt Jacket
  • SPARKS RAMA JUMPER