Men Behaving Girly: Comme des garcons, Givenchy, Rick Owens [www.wwd.com]

Every so often, the menswear shows throw up a multitude of “man skirts”. Nothing new in that. Jean Paul Gaultier’s been hard at it for decades, never mind the Scots with their tartan kilts – a national costume not a quotidian option, I might add. The Japanese invasion in the 80s brought a more funereal take in Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo’s heavy, felted dirndls. Hedi Slimane tried again at Christian Dior in the early noughties. And now the man skirt is once more making another ferocious bid for normalcy.

How does your hemline flow? Hedi Slimane for Dior Homme, Marc Jacobs (inset)

Could this be down to Marc Jacob’s recent fixation with the kilt? Is it really about the skirt or just a way of expressing an Eastern influence of looser, more flowing volumes? See Rick Owens and Stefano Pilatti for YSL. Why should men wear skirts anyway? Do we feel the need to be emancipated? Do women now have the upper hand? After all they burned their bras way back in the 70s. Recent reports in the press on female inequality suggest otherwise. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and the French economy minister, Christine Largarde, have joined forces to ensure that at least 40% of boardroom seats are kept for women. Positive discrimination if you ask me. What if there aren’t 40% of women qualified for those posts? I digress, let’s talk about skirts, baby. Or, perhaps, trousers…

Panty Pose: Helmut Newton + Yves Saint Laurent // Le Smoking, 1966

Helmut Newton’s seminal image of Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking in 1966 made it OK for women to wear trousers and opened the boardroom door for the 80’s power suit. Le Smoking or Le Smocking, that is the question. I wonder, is it really that men should wear skirts or that women should give up wearing them completely – a final, symbolic burning of the bra for the new millennium? Skirts are feminine. See the pencil skirt and the fifties backwards glance at the tightly encased bottom, for example. I would be more shocked if women relinquished their ownership of the skirt than to see a man strolling down the street in flared number. Perhaps it is about ownership after all. Wanting what the other has. What a swap, hey… You can have as many boardroom seats as you like if you just let me have your skirts. Of course.

Skirts aren’t practical, either, and in a moment when both sexes are set to do battle why would a man want to be feminised? That’s really going to keep the shareholders happy as you simultaneously dodge bullets from the AK47 of the credit crunch whilst wearing a tweed A-line jupe. This obsession seems infantile. The joke’s worn thin. It’s just editorial fodder and down right silly. A cheap trick.

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  1. johnn #
    January 19, 2013

    considering history, skirts were men attire. as to whether or not, the comfort for the family jewels is grand.
    men should be able to wear what ever they like just like women do

    • January 19, 2013

      Hi Johnn, fair comment! However, perhaps you missed the point of the piece. First of all, women can’t always wear what they chosoe to. Superficially so, perhaps, and most definitely not universally so.

      It isn’t so much the physicality of clothing but our emotional, religious and sociological relationships with them. Yes, men have worn skirts before, starting with the loin cloth, through to the Greeks and so forth. However as society has progressed so have our perceptions. I am West African and traditional attire is akin to a dress, albeit with a matching trouser worn underneath. At all times! There is the perennial kilt and even the sarong. My argument was not whether or not men should wear skirts. Life is too short for that. The pendular swing of designers proffering the kilt as a viable option for the modern man usually belies a lack of a stronger idea and that’s my beef.
      For now, I’m sticking with garments of the two-legged kind below waist and I’m not sure I’d trust a doctor swishing about in lovely pleated A-line number as he examined me!

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