In a very, very gilded bubble, for a very, very minute number of 0.01 per cent of the world’s super rich, men are being offered something new to wear. Clothes with feminine touches, namely, and influences from the world of women’s haute couture, the highest strata of fashion that’s made from the most precious of materials and at a strata of level of craft and luxury that justifies the six-figure prices. Until now, it’s been the preserve of socialite women, but with fashion houses keen to corner new markets, men are now muscling in on the act.
‘It was elevated, special, exquisite and a celebration of dressing up,’ said Naomi Campbell at Dior’s Men showcase in Paris, which fused designer Kim Jones’ zeitgeisty sportswear and tailoring with the rarefied techniques of the house’s couture atelier that lent a softer, more feminine touch to his dynamic menswear.
This isn’t the first time that Jones has employed those techniques and touches in his men’s clothing – it’s been a thread of his work since he began at the house in 2018 – but it was perhaps the most pronounced. Jacquard, 3D flowers wending their way across snowy white knitwear, meticulous beadwork and sculpted coats that called to mind the shapes of 1950s couture gowns.
There was softness in the plush fabrics and tufted textures, when normally in men’s fashion structure and uprightness are the dominant strands of the style helix. This wasn’t about menswear to go about your daily life in – although you could in those solid cagoules and rain macs if you had the budget – but an injection of preciousness for a particular demographic of men.
Those touches were undoubtedly delicate and feminine, but there was a substantial degree of proper tailoring to lend a masculine balance; the British-born Jones has long been a master at cutting a great, polished suit. Those suits came thick and fast in flowing shapes, with touches that alluded to codes of feminine dress: wide lapels that scooped to not the collar but the shoulders, like a V-neck dress, and a gathered effect on the sleeves.
Dior’s also amassed a cult following amongst the all-important Gen Z, and the slouchy shapes and chunky boots that are catnip to them were also evident – which should please Jones’s new boss, the recently appointed CEO Delphine Arnault, daughter of LVMH owner Bernard Arnault, France’s richest man.
What does all this mean for the average man’s wardrobe? Let’s be honest, we’re not all suddenly going to be dressing in fairy’s-breath-fine tulle, but the shift towards a more "special" kind of look for men that’s dressy and adventurous – see the recent fantastical looks on men at the Golden Globes.
And it works both ways; Naomi Campbell and Gwendoline Christie attended the show wearing mannish suits courtesy of the men’s collection, and the evening prior the formidable Charlotte Rampling closed Ami Paris’s show wearing slouchy tailoring.
There’s a cross-pollination between the two genders in clothing now more than ever, and even if you don’t adhere to it or even agree with it, you can’t deny that it makes a great deal more interesting.