The History of Androgyny
When and where androgyny started is not the point - for what we know it's always existed. Men who look like women and women who look like men, asexual types that are just themselves in all the ambiguity that resides on the margins of one and the other, before too many labels and too many paradigms of styles and fashion. Unique in their own ways, the androgynous types play with gender roles and social expectations, challenging the conventions that dictate what is beautiful or what is cool.
Well, for a fact, we can say that androgyny is certainly cool, but more than that androgyny is powerful. It's a powerful stance, a meaningful, playful attitude towards style; an attitude that adores alternative clothing and flipping expectations upside down and says: 'Man or woman, I don't care, and this is me. Thank you very much.'
Let's have a quick look, in case you weren't quite convinced yet:
It's the early 20th century Katherine Hepburn sets Hollywood on fire (metaphorically), the pioneer of all things androgynous is the Hollywood exemplary representative, for as we have already mentioned in our articles on Katherine last month, she was all about subversive fashion statements and trousers and not just that but also her version of men's inspired buttoned down shirts are iconic still now. And imagine the scandal and agitation amongst fashion savvy women back then! It's mind boggling to think trousers were once considered the most daring of all alternative clothing styles a lady could choose. Bonkers, eh?
WWII meant working women and women in uniforms. Making androgynous styles all the more popular, mostly because of practical reasons, but also initiating an endearing style of fashion that is carried out with more force, to this day.
Cinema is once again to be considered responsible for one more defining element of androgyny and that is to do with men becoming more aware of their feminine side. And who more than the eternally beautiful James Dean could represents the mix of manly and yet styled fashion? James Dean, the man who took pride in his physical appearance, using hair products and beauty products could be at this point considered the pioneer and father of what is nowadays called 'metrosexual', paving the way forward to a modern way of thinking and dressing.
Through The Decades
And as we enter the 60s era, we're spoilt for choice, though who doesn't think of Twiggy or Edie Sedgwick within seconds or associating androgyny with the era? But that's not just that, body figure aside, men too went a little further with style experimentations thanks to the popularisation of hippie culture and beliefs. They let their hair grow longer and played with patterns and all shades of colour.
The 70s!! And the 80s!!! Where to start? Well, first of all, it's of vital importance that we kneel in front of the fact that finally, it's around this time that clothes become all the more unisex. Bell bottom trousers: worn by both men and women, platforms? Totally exchangeable. Sequins? Why should women only be wearing them?! At the end of the day, if you were going to the disco, you had to look like you knew how to be fabulous.
We shouldn't forget to mention, however, the empowering role that clothes played throughout these two decades, especially for career driven women, who started to wear shoulder pads, geometrical jackets with much more masculine designs and trousers symbolising a shift in the way women perceived themselves and wanted to be seen.