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.
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.