Menswear Monthly: Harry Styles, Gucci, and the Gender Binary

Menswear Monthly: Harry Styles, Gucci, and the Gender Binary

This is long overdue, and I just finished an emotional viewing of the Harry Styles: Behind the Album documentary, so I can’t promise that this post is going to be well-written, but we need to talk about Harry Styles.

The movie is (probably) the last big event to close out what I’ve been calling “Harry Styles Month” in which a new and exciting Harry Styles event has happened at least once per week for the last month. Harry released his first solo single, Sign of the Times — then he announced his full album — then performed on Saturday Night Live — then he was on the cover of Rolling Stone — then he announced his world tour — then he released his second single, Sweet Creature — then his tour tickets went on sale (and sold out in, like, minutes) — then he performed on the Today Show — then he announced his Apple Music documentary, Harry Styles: Behind the Album — then his full album dropped — then he did his first live performance at a secret show in London — and THEN the documentary came out. That’s A LOT of “then”s, okay? I am overwhelmed with Harry Styles content. My twitter has turned into a Harry Styles fan page (seriously, follow me on twitter for Harry Styles updates).

I know that these events basically just add up to “a man promotes an album”, but after over a year of almost radio silence from Harry, save for his Another Man editorial, it has been an overwhelming month for fans who were starved of news, new music, and the exciting fashion choices of the pop and rock star.

In the early days on One Direction, Harry was a sixteen-year-old boy who was still finding his style. He dressed like a lot of boys I knew when I was sixteen (i.e. poorly — sorry, Harry). As he’s matured as an adult and an artist, we’ve seen him grow into one of the most interesting male fashion icons of the moment. Many men in Hollywood are well-dressed, and some of them even keep it interesting on the red carpet (see: Donald Glover’s brown velvet suit at the Golden Globes in a sea of black tuxedos) but it’s Harry’s fashion daring and disregard for gender norms that make his style so noteworthy and exciting.

Harry has been wearing Gucci for years, and it seems his somewhat unconventional and androgynous personal style evolved around the same time that creative director Alessandro Michele took over the house with vintage-inspired, romantic designs that don’t seem to waste much effort trying to create firm boundaries between genders, allowing for a beautiful moment of sartorial synergy. Harry posed for the SNL promotional photos in a pink satin pussy-bow blouse by Gucci (made infamous by a certain First Lady, but rescued by Harry’s selection) from the Fall 2017 collection, and he performed his songs in a plaid suit from the same collection. You’ll also spot Gucci boots and a coat* in his Sign of the Times video and different Gucci boots as part of his BBC Radio 1 outfit. Thus, Fashionista.com’s #HarryforGucci campaign is revived. Harry and Gucci go perfectly together because neither seems all that concerned about which gender should wear which clothes, as long as the clothes in question are Gucci.

The Rolling Stone cover story features Harry in a white, lace-collared Gucci blouse and a black paisley Alexander McQueen suit with a hot pink McQueen pussy-bow blouse. Pink has been a theme of his new album’s aesthetic and has therefore inspired a lot of his fashion choices lately, including a plain pink iPhone case and, more obviously, a bright pink suit made by Edward Sexton for his performance on the Today Show. Another pink suit, this one satin and made by Gucci, appeared at the secret show that Harry played in London after the official release of his album. Harry explained his penchant for pink in his interview with Rolling Stone, quoting The Clash’s Paul Simonon: “Pink is the only true rock and roll color.” Why is pink apparently so rock and roll? Is it the process of masculinizing even the most feminine of colors? Or is it the complete disregard for the unnecessary gendering of colors in the first place? To me, Harry’s pink aesthetic is exciting because it implies confidence and style without needing to be hypermasculine.

It seems as though Harry’s understanding of himself is devoid of the toxic influences of society’s masculine ideals, and his pink suits and high-heeled Gucci boots are a colorful, sartorial representation of that. He loves romantic comedies, he’ll make his debut wearing a suit originally designed for women, and he “has never felt the need” to define his sexual orientation. As Alana Massey and Arabelle Sicardi have written (as well as many others, I’m sure), he doesn’t carry with him a threatening or restricting sense of masculinity. I have to agree with Alana — more men could learn from his example.

 

all the love,

 

S

 

 

*Side note — it looked like they cut a giant hole in that Gucci coat in order to accommodate the harness connecting him to the helicopter. I’m not sure I can support cutting a hole in a $3,280 cashmere jacket, Harry.

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