Steve Miller, Opinions Editor-
Look out Gisele there’s a new woman in town, the only difference is she’s a he!
Andrej Pejic, a pouty-lipped, high cheek boned, slender 19-year-old from Broadmeadows Australia is turning heads and has many fashionistas and fashionistos questioning fashion’s new interest in this year’s lady boy.
After appearing in edgy editorials for French Vogue, Italian Vogue, i-D and Arena Homme, Pejic recently walked for Jean Paul Gaultier’s James Bond themed runway during Paris men’s fashion week in a gold dress, matching sparkly tights, a fur vest. He’s even become the new face of both Marc Jacobs and Gaultier’s Spring/Summer ad campaigns and fellow models James Varley and Martin Cohn have also drawn attention because of their gender-bending looks.
It seems today’s male model doesn’t know whether to pick up the axe and put down the clutch, or strap on his stilettos and hit the streets. But jokes aside, the discrepancy of today’s male model elite is an interesting owe. Only months ago, a resurgence and reversion back to the “masculine man” from latter-days passed was making a comeback, as more traditionally masculine models were seen walking down runways, gracing the covers of magazines, and being featured in many editorial campaigns.
“Men have always been defined by their jobs — always,” said Joe Levy, the editor-in-chief of Maxim last fall. “Suddenly the notion of having a job or a career is in doubt, so you fall back on old notions of what it meant to be a man or to look like one.”
Despite the troubling economic times a handful of androgynous male models such as Pejic are gaining notoriety making it difficult to know what editors and designers are going for when creating a persona for their brand or publication.
Now in a perfect world, designers and editors would take a deeper look into individuality when casting models for work. This isn’t to say there is no physical individuality in the industry but trends based on looks whether it be effeminate women, masculine men, or effeminate men who look like women are no surprise.
From the rail-thin, 6’2”, Caucasian male models designer Hedi Slimane pushed at the turn of the millennia to the influx of plus-sized females gracing editorial pages and runways in recent seasons, the fashion industry’s credibility for embracing diversity in the midst of a trend is less than questionable.
What’s happening here is a hyper-labeling of model as “so this or that.” In these image heavy, look-driven times we’re in there’s only so much shock and attention a designer can gain from simply showing beautifully crafted clothing. Some designers like Jordan-born Rad Hourani create unisex clothing fit for a man or woman rather than accept a rigid fashion-gendered line.
But according to Matthew Anderson, director of Chadwick models in Melbourne, who signed both Pejic and Varley, the two male models have appeared at another turning point in the global fashion Zeitgeist.
“Society and cultural values have changed, are changing,’’ Anderson said in an interview with Australian online news publication WAtoday. ‘’People – young, particularly – are more accepting of all kinds of sexuality and ways of life. It reminds me of the 1980s, when ambiguous sexuality was accepted and people weren’t ashamed to show it and sell it.’’
Could it be that feminine male models like Pejic are pushing the boundaries of society by challenging society’s creation of gender and subsequent stiff outlook on sexuality? Maybe, but I can’t wait for the day when some designer chooses Betty White in all her geriatric glory to grace the runway in boxed suit and fake mustache to boot: If that’s not gender bending than I don’t know what is.
Fashion’s lady boy or trend toy
Steve Miller, Opinions Editor-