Although the thought of dressing the opposite gender was a daunting concept for me, it was time to spread my wings and jump out of the womenswear nest. Only then can I either fly or fall flat on my face. My class and I finally received our menswear assignment. Not only that, we were required to use men’s shirting fabric, a twill fabric(but not denim), and a wool suiting fabric.
I always hated menswear. From what I had been exposed to my entire life, men were just boring to me. There were so little options, everything looked the same and nothing was ever unique. Granted I was looking at menswear through my experiences shopping and from what I see my male friends wear. I never really looked at menswear like I do with womenswear. I look at the things women have been wearing since ancient civilizations. I know womenswear through every generation, culture, and subculture. But for some reason, I never thought to try that with men. For this assignment, I knew that if I was going to do menswear, it would not be the same things I see men wear all the time. I want the men I dress to be just as daring, experiment, unique, artistic, and confident as the women I dress.
Drawing attention back to my intro, my collection was inspired by Victoria’s Riflebirds. I saw a video of two males of this species dancing their special mating dance to attract a female bird. This dance was so amazing and beautiful to me. These birds instinctually know to move in this way to garner attention and its a legit ritual in their world. It just blew my mind watching the dance! I loved using these birds for so many reasons. The dance itself is this beautiful movement with their wings that gives them such an unusual shape, I loved the silhouette! They also do this dance to compete for the female they want and that seemed so opposite of American gender dynamics. Here and now, women must doll themselves up to compete for the man’s attention, which is most likely the cause for many of the gender inequalities we are seeing today. I thought about how backwards our society is, and how we should be taking a page from the animal kingdom from time to time. The male birds of the species also have the most gorgeous coloration of jet black feathers with a touch of vibrant, iridescent aqua blue on their chest, and of course, their grey legs. I had to use this color story for myself because it was so perfect. The fact of the male of any species being the more attractive and flamboyant is a trend in the animal kingdom. If animals know this truth so naturally, why can’t men dress bolder without having some societal expectation and judgement attached to it? Honestly, can I just be a bird? Can I just be a heron?
I also wanted to use traditional menswear as a grounding point that I could expand from. I do not hate men’s suits or ties or dress shirts. I just want to keep moving forward; I want to use those concepts as jumping points for variations. I respect that menswear is tied to tradition in many ways and I understand the reasoning psychologically, but fashion is never standing still. Womenswear is being pushed and changed everyday(sometimes cycled, but that’s a different story), so men should dress just as freely.
Let me know what you think about my fine feathered friends:)