death of the archetypal butch male

Words by Yiling Zhao / @zhxo_

Hari Nef, Harmony Boucher, Erin Mommsen, Joel Wolfe and Jodun Love

As fashion month continues this week, lets take a closer look at the growing and ever changing industry of menswear, as modern designers with  the help of male models, collaborate together to change the face of fashion and to challenge society's gender norms.

We came across a fantastic article from Amy Bebbington over at UK Models:

"The idea of allowing male models to be who they want to be rather than being told to lift weights to expand their slender physique or hide their sexuality to avoid controversy appears to be taking over the fashion scene."

Yuri Pleskun for VMAN #31
Modelling agencies may be seeking a new breed of male model as the dynamics in the industry are evolving dramatically. Designers are changing the way gender is interpreted using the catwalk and the face of fashion as their platform. A new wave of boys is being welcomed by many in the industry breaking boundaries of what the idea of a ‘man’ is.

At a time of industry-wide introspection, insiders, commentators and decision makers are questioning everything from the sheer number of collections and the relevance of seasons, to the competency of the consumer cycle and the rising influence of social media. During this period of fashion flux, we're starting to hear some unanswered questions being challenged by industry giants - and thankfully - the brave and bold are joining the conversation. As ever, some of the boldest and bravest voices are those of tomorrow's generation.

Jacob Mallinson Bird has had increased notoriety at Cambridge University, where he juggles a degree and parties it out as his after-hours alter-ego Dinah Lux. The leggy, blonde drag queen explores the ways in which music and dance affect gay and straight relationships, as well as music and the queer body in gay nightclubs. Jacob's year culminated with a impassionate TED Talk, painted face of a queer future, becoming an outspoken activist and champion for queer rights.

Jacob Mallinson Bird for Varsity Fashion
But Jacob is also an atypically successful male model. Eschewing stereotypes, he is reflecting a new wave of boys who are shaking up our perception of what it means to be a man in fashion. "I would probably have said that male modelling was intrinsically hetero ten years ago, but a lot is changing," says Jacob. "I mean, you still have your Versace boys, but I do think the aesthetic is hanging to one that favours young, doe-eyed, almost queer innocence It's become less about the archetypal butch male."

Tomorrow is Another Day, Jacob's modelling agency chiefly specialize in boys who defy the hyper-masculine archetype. Weather that'd be club kids like Jacob, lean skater boys, or cool kids scouted outside of a gig

Chanel x Exit Magazine photographed by Santiago & Mauricio

Louis Vuitton dauntlessly shifted the gender framework, introducing Jaden Smith as the new face of LV Womenswear. J.W. Anderson presented ruffled-hem shorts for men, flat at the crotch to appear somehow genderless. Gucci's recently appointed Allessandro Michele posited lace t-shirts and shrunken knits as a new way for a man to dress.

Much like fashion's female counterpart, the typical stance - being the demand for thin male models - originated from runway shows. Designers consider clothes to sit better on people whose bones (and other body parts) acted almost like hooks; going in slightly above the waist to appease to the eye. Yet besides so, according to Jacob, "[The] (queer) future of fashion and modelling is to see gender as constructed." He further proclaims, "Pushing boundaries of gender through clothing effortlessly shows the malleability of those boundaries, and importantly, not to see that as gay, but as inclusively queer".  


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