Taking Risks on the Red Carpet - Celebrities who are Revolutionising Menswear in the Media
I first noticed the great disparity between men and women on the red carpet in 2018 when watching the MET Gala. For so long I had mistaken plain black suits as the fashionable choice for all men, tricked by the media focus on a number of glamourous women to forget that copy and pasting a ‘classic’ look does not count as effort. It was only at the MET Gala, bombarded with the heavenly bodies of the hundreds of attendants who had dressed ethereally, encrusted in diamonds in looks that came straight from the Vatican, that I realised Michael B. Jordan slapping a cross brooch on a suit wasn’t quite cutting it.
It’s a shame - there are so many talented menswear designers and so much room for creativity that it seemed a waste. It is also disappointing for the thousands of men worldwide who are not exposed to the idea of creative freedom in fashion, and without the normalisation of self-expression it can become stigmatised, creating a breeding ground for toxic masculinity and insecurity.
Luckily men have recently begun taking more fashion risks, causing a stir and expressing themselves on the red carpet. Only a few weeks ago, American Horror Story star Billy Porter stole the show at the Oscars wearing a tuxedo-gown designed by Christian Siriano. Porter wanted to combat the rigidity of men's fashion and the toxic masculinity that surrounds it, especially black masculinity. Porter told critics they “don’t have to look” and explains that the need “to be the strongest and most masculine...has become toxic”. Porter believes that more men would like to “play” with fashion but fear backlash, even in their influential position. He explains “the industry masquerades itself as inclusive, but actors are afraid”.
If even the celebrities that dictate mainstream fashion feel pressured to conform, the restrictions felt by the general public are much greater. Porter's liberation can be admired but not shared by much of his audience. However, the more creative expression is celebrated in mainstream media, the closer we come to social acceptance.
Porter is not the only star pushing boundaries on the red carpet. Ezra Miller is known for their inventive looks, openly identifying as gender fluid and sporting both makeup and styles that challenge traditional masculinity at high profile events. The best to date must be the piece worn to the Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald premier in Paris, a puffer dress from Pierpaolo Piccioli’s collaboration with Moncler on their 2018 A/W Genius collection. Miller and Porter’s fearless expression should be an example to us all, as well as the positive reaction they have received which will hopefully inspire others to be more confident in themselves and their identity.
Could the future be diamond encrusted for men too? The expansion of menswear in the mainstream and an open discussion about toxic masculinity could lead to more creative freedom and acceptance for men. More men in the public eye need to start fighting gender stereotypes and normalise creative freedom in fashion, not only for their own sake but for the young boys growing up believing that fashion and makeup are gender restricted. By freeing themselves from trend celebrities can also free a whole generation of men from the boundaries of traditional masculinity.
TEXT BY ISOBEL GORMAN-BUCKLEY