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GFW19: How Graduate Fashion Week redefined masculinity

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The Oxford English dictionary defines masculinity as 'qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of men". It's a social construct we've come to associate with muscles, suits, short hair and other 'manly' things. 

In recent years, the lines defining masculinity have become more and more blurred, and in the same way that feminity has become more androgynous - masculinity has become much more fluid and gender neutrality is much more en vogue. Fitting into boxes and conforming to stereotypes just isn't needed anymore - experimenting is encouraged and it's all about finding your true self. 

Image credit: Camille Dupont

Think Pink

At GFW, the catwalks were full of designers pushing the boundaries surrounding what it means to be a man. A huge trend in the menswear sector was pink, a colour which has historically been associated with women. Whilst men wearing pink is hardly a new thing - only last week on Love Island did Curtis Pritchard declare that his shorts were "salmon actually darling" - and is far from groundbreaking (as it shouldn't be - it's a colour for goodness sake), it was the shades that made this a fresher take on a classic look.

Gone were the days of salmon (sorry Curtis), baby pink and peach, and in came brighter and more exciting shades of fuschia and bubblegum pink. Starchy shirts were replaced with tulle cover-ups and holographic organza took over from the basic tee. 

Skirts

Another trend that was here to push boundaries was men in skirts - yes, really. Scottish men have been rocking kilts (not skirts - they get angry when you call them skirts) for years, but skirts are usually avoided by men, for whatever reason. GFW was here to change this, with men rocking everything from minis to maxis in an array of fabrics. We're unsure if this is a trend that will catch on, but honestly, boys - skirts are SO comfy and there's much more room to breathe - we highly recommend. 

Alex Werth & Hannes Muehlleiss (Hochschule Pforzheim) // GIF credit: Ruby Naldrett via GIPHY

Dresses

In a similar vein to skirts, some designers went the whole hog and had their male models in dresses. These weren't men dressed in women's clothes, these were men wearing dresses that had been perfectly cut and created for their bodies. For years men wore tunics and more traditional 'dress' like clothing, and it's only in recent centuries that it became a taboo. 

Makeup

Image credit: Camille Dupont

Echoing the trends of the 80s, where stars such as David Bowie and Prince were huge trendsetters, makeup at this years GFW was bigger, brighter and bolder than ever and it wasn't just the women rocking the daring looks. Gender was fluid at the show, with all models wearing heavy makeup. Stand-out looks were pink blush brushed high on the cheeks and cobalt eye makeup swept across the lids. 

Pop culture references

Dexter Ching (Hong Kong Polytechnic University) // GIF credit: Ruby Naldrett, via GIPHY

Remember the Sexy Priest from Fleabag? (Only joking - OF COURSE you remember him) At GFW, priest-esque clothing was a surprising trend. Black capes with heavy chains and even dog collars might not be a trend that will filter onto the high street, but it was fun to see a different take on the catwalk.

Gender and diversity are hot topics right now, but these things should not be added to shows as part of a 'trend' - fluidity is something that is incredibly important; as is the abolishment of gender stereotypes. Hopefully in the future, we won't need to talk about masculinity and it's representation in fashion, as it won't be news - but for now, we must applaud GFW for helping to break down the boundaries.

See all of our Graduate Fashion Week content here.

Lead image credit: Camille Dupont




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