Earlier this week, I was talking about fashion with a friend of mine, and she mentioned that she loves Andrej Pejic, the androgynous male model who is currently all the rage.
I think Pejic is great because he’s breaking gender boundaries and challenging the notion of traditional feminine beauty. However, the problem I have is that he almost exclusively models women’s clothing. Yes, he has a lovely, feminine face and flowing blonde hair, but he has a distinctly male body. No breasts, slim thighs, broad shoulders, and tall. He is, of course, extremely thin, so he can pull off women’s clothing. But I think his popularity is perfectly emblematic of what is wrong with the “high fashion” industry. Designers aren’t designing for women—they’re designing for men and pubescent girls with pretty faces.
This was really solidified for me earlier this year, when Elle Fanning (the 13-year-old sister of actress Dakota Fanning) was touted as the new “muse” of designer Marc Jacobs. Ignore for a moment the creepiness factor of a grown man calling a 13-year-old his muse, and consider the implications this has for the adult women who are the designer’s actual customers. We may be the people shelling out the money for his products, but we are not the people he’s designing for.
Then you have this season of the television show Project Runway. Two episodes in a row, you had one of the contestants (Olivier) whining and moaning because he had to design clothes for, first, a woman who was not a model and had a completely average-sized body and breasts; and, second, a male non-model who was also average-sized.
In the first episode, Olivier complained bitterly (over and over again…) that the woman’s breasts were huge (they werent) and that he hates girls with boobs because they “get in the way” and “distract from the design.” It is absolutely ridiculous to complain that a piece of human anatomy “distracts” from clothing—which is meant to be worn on a human body! Who (or what) is he designing for if he refuses to fit actual humans? At least the boyfriends and husbands of all the women were vocal in their approval of their partners’ bodies. Even though all the women were different shapes, every romantic partner was (almost embarrassingly) vocal in their appreciation for the breasts and rear end of their respective partners. This scene really showed how out of touch the fashion industry is when it comes to their treatment of the female form.
Then the next episode, I wanted to tear my hair out because he kept calling the man for whom he was designing “plus-size.” The guy was not “plus-size” in the least. Sure, he was very tall and had a soft tummy, but his girth was totally average. And the guy was an up-and-coming rock star! Olivier should’ve considered himself lucky to design for someone so visible.
All these designers, professional and amateur alike, need to go back to school and take a human biology class. It seems like they’re only capable of dressing a dress form and simply cannot (or refuse to) design clothes for actual people. It’s really sad that these designers manage to make so many people feel bad about themselves, when the designers are the ones whose vision is so warped.