Thursday, January 27, 2011

LOVE magazine, andrej pejic, fashion androgyny

I want to talk about Givenchy couture, but at the same time, I really don't. While the dresses were beautiful, the detailing exquisite (next time I have a gala to go to where nipples are allowed, I'll take this please and thank you), and the inspiration seemingly sincere--Kazuo Ohno and Butoh dancing (used to pretty great effect in this Einstürzende Neubauten clip, incidentally) via Antony Hegarty--the casting had the same sweeping generalization, gimmicky vibe that Vogue's Asia Major editorial had. The last word: Gita has shown me the parallels between this collection and Gurren Lagann. Quote: "Givenchy’s is the couture collection that will pierce through the heavens!"



But now, I guess what's stuck out for me most this couture season--or, to be frank, what's been reblogged on my Tumblr dashboard the most--is this look from Jean Paul Gaultier's collection:


Which comes on the heels of these equally popular shots from menswear:



Time to cover my ass: I quite like Andrej Pejic. He's gorgeous, there's no denying that, and heaven knows I'm not faulting him for a bit of designer dress-up. I remember reading a fairly old interview with him on the Fashion Spot where he said his favorite things were '80s New Romantics, his hero is Boy George, and he likes a whole lot of Dead or Alive. He's a modern Blitz kid, and anyone who leaves me with visions of Steve Strange and super-early Duran Duran dancing in my head is a keeper in my book. This isn't the first time ultra-feminine (I hesitate to say androgynous, more on that later) male models have tottered down the runway in dresses and heels: Martin Cohn, most recently. Same goes for the reverse: Omahyra, most obviously, and Kristen McMenamy...in fact, most of the grunge girls.

I also really, really dig JPG's punky couture collection--which is nice, since he's been kind of underwhelming lately. And I also like JPG as a dude and as a model caster (is there a CD for his shows?). His runways are full of some of the most diverse faces and bodies in the business, so I trust that he's not hopping aboard the bandwagon. It's just beginning to feel a lot like fetishization for me. OBSERVE:


Let's play some convoluted thought hopscotch. LOVE Magazine's Androgyny Issue, hitting newsstands February 7 (though I imagine it'll come to the US by March or something). I'm going to withhold judgment until I see the issue, or at least a list of contents, photographers, models, etc. So first, Cover 1 with Kate Moss and Lea T. I'm extraordinarily happy to see Lea getting more editorial work, hopefully beyond her just wearing Givenchy; here's also hoping, in the unicorns-and-rainbows sense, that her success doesn't rely on her being qualified as a transgender model for much longer--just let her be a good model. Good on the Pulp-inspired tagline too. So why does it leave me cold? Yeah, you can say that casting a transgendered model in the nude, decidedly more feminine and vulnerable role is food for thought, but the concept isn't executed to full effect. Kate, sporting a greasy pompadour and a "this is butch, right?" leather number probably on holdover from a Freja shoot, actually kind of looks uncomfortable (this might speak to her limited, though enduring, range as a model).

I don't have much to say about Bieber's cover other than...I kind of feel bad for the poor kid. He looks 12 and he has a daft haircut, to be sure, and his fans are apparently fucking terrifying, but it's a bit mean-spirited, yeah? It feels unnecessarily nasty to be poking fun at a 16-year-old for his girly looks (some even going so far as to question his gender or sexuality), looking like a lesbian or vice versa. Does he understand all the gendered hate he gets? Thing is, LOVE's Katie Grand is a pretty shrewd marketer. Now that Carine Roitfeld's gone, she's one of the industry's most knowing shock-mongers, provocation for provocation's sake. Again, I won't judge until I see what's inside, but given LOVE's track record, I kind of expect a whole lot of sharp-jawed girls in suits eventually showing off their tits.

Which kind of brings me back to Andrej. Why does he stand out as a symptom of fashion's androgyny disease to me and not, say, Jana K's awesome haircut or the fact that for a while, Freja couldn't take a god damn photo without being suited up, greased out, and eventually totally nude? Is it because I find something attractive about those gals and thus turn a blind eye? It gets me angry, but for other reasons. Fashion's androgyny is not about gender expression, ambiguous features, or what have you--it's body politics at play again. I mentioned it as the one thing that grates about designers like Rad Hourani, and Meg pretty much caught on it in a comment from the LAST time I did a post like this, and it remains convoluted and not fully thought out, justified, or explained. Androgyny defaults to ectomorphic, long, lean silhouettes. 20-something female models are made to look like 17-year-old boys by the nature of the business; we go crazy when a 22-year-old woman has hips and breasts, but the capital-W Women and the androgynes are sexualized as women all the same. When male models look like capital-M Men, or they're a little older, they've got build and a bit of facial hair, we breathe a sigh of relief and herald a new age of masculinity; 17-year-old boys who look like 17-year-old boys who are a bit awkward, perhaps a bit more feminine, kind of freak us out and call to mind fashion's obsession with androgyny. But then again, they're sexualized for their youth (HEDI SLIMANE'S ENTIRE CAREER DIOR HOMME AND BEYOND), and that's not great either. And if androgyny goes beyond that prepubescent, slim-hipped mold, we turn our noses in disgust. See Fashion Spot commenters being grossed out by an image of Leigh Bowery nude on Acne Paper's cover.

So then we put the young boy in women's clothes and freak out once again. So Andrej Pejic is being sexualized--or worse, fetishized--as a woman. He's doing it willingly because he enjoys it, but I guess I just hope that the kid has a career once the modeling industry defaults back to prepubescents. Because if my favorite Vogue Turkey editorial and its impeccable styling prove anything, he's got a damn beautiful face and longevity under the Veronica Lake waves.

7 comments:

  1. I'm quite annoyed by the JB cover! I don't want him near LOVE haha.

    http://aforteforfashion.blogspot.com

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  2. "I kind of expect a whole lot of sharp-jawed girls in suits eventually showing off their tits."
    ahahhahah so true

    yeah all of this has been bugging me out a lot lately.

    the lea t thing just gets weirder and weirder -- roxie and i were talking about this and there's this weird undercurrent where it comes off almost as if tisci's engaging in a little bit of shockmongering himself, like he was all I WANT ME A HOT TRANNY MODEL and gets off on how unuuuuusual and progresssssive it is or something and also talks in these weird ways in interviews as if he "made" lea? like, dude, yeah, fashion's a circus, but that doesn't mean it's cool to make lea t a circus freak for givenchy's image, you know? there's something marginalizing about the fixation, and that azn-fetishy couture collection made me even more suspicious. which again i guess is still better than turning a blind eye to everything that isn't straight and white, but there's something not cool about it. and to say nothing of all the fantastically inappropriate/poor-vocabularied media commentary about the whole thing.... i read a few things that referred to andrej in JPG as 'transgender' which last time I checked is, you know, slightly different than having someone else pay you to walk down a runway in drag.

    can we also note that in all these instances they really exaggerate the illusion of "curves"/slim waist/full thighs and hips which, like, we'd refuse to cast any female model if she was actually shaped like that? 'take your hips and go home, andrej, good luck with that size 4 body of yours, maybe victoria's secret will like you or something, or you can do some commercial stuff for JC Penney maybe?' i can't even come up with what's going on there with that many levels of performativity where we permit/expect/enjoy more femininity from men in drag than we do from women. which seems like it should be some sort of statement about perfomativity/flexibility which is supposed to be liberating, but it really just ends up being another depressing restriction/more body police/blahdbyblah.

    HOWEVER, personally i was most offended by the intensity of that gaussian blur filter photoshop hack job over parts bieb's face. is he starting to have acne?!??!! also, uncle terry took that photo. scary.

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  3. "HOWEVER, personally i was most offended by the intensity of that gaussian blur filter photoshop hack job over parts bieb's face. is he starting to have acne?!??!! also, uncle terry took that photo. scary."
    omg I just got a good look at his neck D: and the whites of his eyes D: WHY DOES UNCLE TERRY ALWAYS HAVE TO BARGE IN DID YOU SEE WHAT HE AND PARIS DID TO VOGUE TURKEY THIS MONTH????

    I wouldn't be surprised re: Tisci's shockmongering...Givenchy's S/S '11 ad campaign kind of bothered me for the same fetishy reasons. Something like he's long admired and been fascinated by albino people and they're "part of his world" and oh look at how ETHEREAL it all is, isn't it nice that this albino model can sit side-by-side with Lea T and Antony and Mariacarla and Marina Abramovic and oh what a well-heeled band of misfits--but let's not forget that they're misfits. And there's definitely something..."My Fair Tranny" about the way Riccardo talks about Lea, like he swept her up in this fabulous world of fashion and personally unleashed her glamorous femininity by casting her in the campaign.

    It's kind of a black hole of wrong, because once you start talking about the exaggerated hips and you realize no female model would get through the door with that shape, then you get angry that one size 4 model is heralded as "The Return of the Real Woman" and Victoria's Secret models at Prada! Cups runneth over amongst the same kind of anonymous pale Eastern European teens who look like the teen male models the New York Times and Maxim hate, and isn't it kind of creepy how prepubescent fetishy it all gets, but would we rather the rugged real men or JPG's next drag superstar? All the body/youth/presentation politics ends up kinda contradicting itself.

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  4. andrej doesnt have a size 4 body it's size 0 to 2 i recently did a shoot with him where we measured him...

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  5. The size 4 comments were not in reference to Andrej, he's clearly tiny.

    The analogy: if a female model with hips like the exaggerated proportions of the JPG dress tried to book jobs, no one would cast her for blue-chip gigs. Essentially, such stylized hyperfemininity is really only permitted in fashion when it's a rather beautiful boy doing the performing--which speaks more to body policing in the female modeling industry than anything else.

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  6. i dont think that dress exagerates Andrej's propotions, i dont think there is any padding there. Andrej has a 26 inch waist and 36 inch hips so that is a 10 inch difference hence why the hips look wider but there are plenty of girls with these measurements that do book blue chip campaigns!

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  7. Ray Banのネットショップを、いつもチェックしている。この一ヶ月、全然レイバン 新着更新されてなくてガッカリと思ったところ、やっと今日更新された!大好きなレイバン アビエイターが、5点も増やされてうれしい!

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