Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Skinny on Male Fashion

Remember how Madrid's Fashion Week banned emaciated models from the runway in fall of 2006? Madrid's action didn't change the bony face of fashion, but it did shine a spotlight on how female models are starving themselves.

Well, being cavernously thin has now become an equal-opportunity deformity.

The New York Times just ran a story in its Style section (not in Health, where it rightly belongs!) on the evolving standard for underfed male models. Or maybe this is devolution rather than evolution. Aptly titled "The Vanishing Point," the Times story persuades as much with images as with arguments. Pictures like this one tell the whole tale:

It's refreshing that men no longer need to look like they eat 'roids for breakfast. If these skinny dudes represented just one possible image, I'd say fine. Lots of very young men are naturally built like this, and why shouldn't they see guys who look like them?

But of course, in a high-fashion world that loves conformity even more than novelty, the new look is rapidly becoming the new dogma. The Times reports:
George Brown, a booking agent at Red Model Management, said: “When I get that random phone call from a boy who says, ‘I’m 6-foot-1 and I’m calling from Kansas,’ I immediately ask, ‘What do you weigh?’ If they say 188 or 190, I know we can’t use him. Our guys are 155 pounds at that height.”
If your 6'1", you'd better weight 155? So we're now ditching the bulky muscles but paring the men down to bare bones, all while maintaining the bizarre fiction of the hairless man.

To me, the most disturbing aspect of the trend is captured by a fashion expert, Kelly Cutrone, who told the Times:
"People are afraid to look over 21 or make any statement of what it means to be adult.”
It's not that this look is downright pedophilic, exactly, although it does lean in that direction. And it's not terribly hard to find examples of ads that do go for the little boy image, such as this ad for American Apparel found by copyranter. (It'd be one thing if this were an ad for boys' clothing, but it's not.)

Here's a revolutionary idea: How about male models who look like men? What if they actually had a normal amount of body hair? What if they looked more handsome than average, but otherwise rather ordinary? Now that would be sexy.


Mollyfa said...

I totally agree that we are out of control with this. What is with making us all want to look like we are 12 for crap sake! Does it have to do with the designers not be able to actually make anything that looks good unless it hangs straight up and down? How about some curves, even some muscle? Who is in charge here?

And thanks for the post.

Sungold said...

Who's in charge? The lunatics are definitely running the asylum, no question.

I think you're right that designers don't know how to cope with curves. Straight lines just don't have much to do with the human form.

Thanks for stopping by!