It would be a considerable oversight to approach the notion of gender fluidity as an invention of the 2010s - gender-bending fashion goes far beyond the Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo or Marlene Dietrich’s three-piece suit - however it has gained an undeniable momentum, with fierce political motivations for a never-before-seen inclusivity. YUGEN explores the crucial moments of non-binary expression as an unfolding storyline of the 2010s.
March 2012: Miu Miu A/W 12
While gender fluidity was most definitely not an exceptionally new concept, the beginning of the decade saw Miu Miu’s fall 2012 runway rocking the fashion world by presenting a type of masculine woman rarely seen before. This woman didn’t just appropriate a masculine look that would ultimately be sexualised, she defied gender boundaries and wore the male uniform-inspired butch cuts effortlessly - and with no remorse. “After years of skirts, they’re the one thing I find exciting at the moment,” said Prada about the iconic pantsuits whose influence in sparking a move towards the non-binary is downright undeniable.
May 2012: Marc Jacobs’ lace Met Gala look
Seemingly the year that laid the basis of a gender revolution, 2012 was marked by another major non-binary statement - and where else if not on the most watched red carpet of the year? Marc Jacobs arrived at the Met Gala in a lace polo dress and some boxer shorts, and rightfully so, considering that the designers honoured in the 2012 exhibit were none others than Schiaparelli and Prada - the historical rule-breakers of the industry. In similar fashion, he ‘just didn’t wanna wear a tuxedo and be boring’, which is precisely why we needed the gender fluid movement to bring the long-awaited dynamism to the, quite frankly, static scene of the early 2010s.
February 2015 (-present): Alessandro Michele takes over Gucci
The Fall 2015 runway season is now considered *the* major turning point of the decade, as Alessandro Michele’s shock appointment as Creative Director days before the show would have revolutionised not just fashion as we knew it, but rather a whole set of social dynamics - leaving us no way back. The vivid new narrative he has created for the brand can only be described as “total inclusion” - an eclectic mix of inspirations, references, identities that has become the epitome of gender fluidity today. Looking back on his first runway, Michele was clearly playing it safe - we are by now used to the silk babushkas, the anime panel coats, the severed head accessories - but the now iconic pussy bows and fur loafers worn by male and female models alike was a decidedly daring move. And a successful one, to say the least - after all, it was his decision to combine the menswear and womenswear shows that led the industry to adopt this merge as the new norm.
January 2016: Jaden Smith becomes the face of Louis Vuitton’s womenswear campaign
“We are all living with this new dimension”, Nicolas Ghesquiere remarked at his Spring 2016 Louis Vuitton show. He was right - sensing the creative revolt that was about to send shockwaves through the fashion industry, Ghesquiere decided to accelerate it by making Jaden Smith the face of his SS16 womenswear campaign. Posing in a moto jacket and embroidered skirt ensemble, the Gen-Z icon fronted the fight of the young, a fight of individuality and freedom of choice, a refreshed vision of an inclusive future.
August 2016: Young Thug’s iconic No, My Name is JEFFERY cover
Wearing a stunning Japanese-inspired periwinkle dress by emerging designer Alessandro Trincone, Young Thug confidently posed for the 2016 JEFFERY album looking like a rap goddess in a modern painting. Known for his aesthetic sensibilities, Young Thug was often seen wearing women’s clothes flawlessly - nevertheless, this cover was a bold move within the rap community, notorious for its obsession with hyper-masculinity. Whether a purely aesthetic choice or otherwise, Thugger’s cover became a defiant statement against the binary, against the toxic attitudes towards black masculinity, and all for an expression of creativity unbounded by gender.
June 2017: Charles Jeffrey Loverboy S/S 18
After two explosive years of gender bending expression, the concept became the main driver of fashion as the audience craved more. A number of emerging brands rising to the forefront of the gender fluid movement gained industry attention, one such being Charles Jeffrey Loverboy. Compared to Alexander McQueen by BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks, Jeffrey’s first stand-alone show was a non-linear illustration of a British past, reinvented through a binary-refuting lens. As models walked the runway wearing baby-doll dresses and bondage pants, a sense of joyful liveliness came as an act of resistance in the face of resentment and hostility.
June 2018: Maison Margiela’s first menswear couture collection
John Galliano’s interpretation of the elusive designer’s legacy has long been a continuous deviation from the norm, his shows coming closer to contemporary art exhibits, commentaries on a future-present where deconstruction, shapely shapelessness and raw magic reigns free. The 2018 couture season saw the house’s first menswear couture show experiment with a sexy utopian vision of future craftsmanship, addressing gender stereotypes by presenting a sensuality borrowed from women’s tailoring (oh that intricate corsetry!), that looked so appropriately chic on the male model. No-one knows otherworldly better than John Galliano.
September 2018: Telfar / Eckhaus Latta S/S 19
The Spring 2019 runway season continued to be marked by new perspectives on gender fluidity, showcasing styles ranging from the edgy and flamboyant to the minimal chic to cater to a variety of gender-neutral audiences. The dropped shoulders and cinched waist silhouette, the fringed jeans and earthy floral jacquard of Eckhaus Latta, or the unisex American casual deconstructed and fused with the most unexpected elements at Telfar, Spring 2019 was all about wearable gender fluidity - what the public wanted, the public got.
November 2018: Ezra Miller in Moncler x Pierpaolo Piccioli
As part of a red carpet appearance for the premiere of Fantastic Beasts, Ezra Miller left attendees speechless at his choice of outfit. The actor, who identifies as gender fluid, appeared in a floor-length puffer gown from the sculptural Moncler x Pierpaolo Piccioli collaboration, finishing the look with a deep red lip. Heads were turned, drama was created, gender fluidity was celebrated.
February 2019: Billy Porter’s unforgettable Oscars look
The closing year of the decade was an ode to gender fluid boldness, as more and more celebrities adopted an unapologetic non-binary stance. The most remarkable gender-bending statement of 2019 happened at the Oscars, a traditionally conservative event for outfit choices. Billy Porter’s appearance might have been more discussed than the Oscar winners themselves, and rightfully so, considering he showed up in a Christian Siriano tuxedo dress. “I wanted to create a space where we can have a dialogue about the masculine and the feminine and everything in between,” the actor explained. We’re guessing he also just didn’t want to be boring and wear a tuxedo.
HONORABLE MENTION: Billie Eilish
Unable to pinpoint when Billie Eilish’s distinct style established its influence - or, how it will evolve - we couldn’t write an article on gender fluidity without mentioning the most subversive figure at the forefront of the music industry. Her signature baggy style set an example for young Gen-Zers to wear whatever makes them feel comfortable and safe, but, also, cool as hell. We could not imagine Billie without her signature mix of the classic hip-hop silhouette with goth/emo references, but we are certainly excited to witness her inherent style evolution.
So, where to next? The timeline above is, surely, just the beginning of an ongoing revolution that must now be handed over to Gen-Zers, whose rising creative market influence can only lead to a further deconstruction of stereotypical barriers towards a cyborg-like future where gender bears no value.
by Alexa Chirila