Harry Styles graced the cover of Beauty Papers Magazine in a custom made Gucci suit by Alessandro Michele. The cover of the magazine features the pop singer in a very alternative look that breaks through heternormative ideals of masculinity. In this Gucci editorial, Styles is able to emulate a very masculine confidence in a very unconventional way.
The revolution at Gucci, which created a revolution in fashion, started with what appeared to be the classic loafer. Its front was made of soft black leather, adorned with the traditional Gucci gold horse-bit ornament; the back half, however, told a more interesting story. It was completely open, and the foot-bed was lined in kangaroo fur that spilled out in all directions. It was worn by both women and men at Gucci’s fall 2015 show, in Milan. Even more challenging to the staid norms of male attire, the shoe was paired with a deep red suit that resembled narrow-cut pajamas and a patterned chiffon shirt.
The rest of the collection was equally as bold: women in delicate gowns with furry, caveman-like flats; a unisex overcoat in zigzag stripes of bright pink and maroon; men carrying Gucci handbags or wearing floral print suits. It was a dramatic turn from the previous overtly sexy Gucci era, which had been extremely successful during Tom Ford’s ’90s. Much has been said about how Michele’s work helped usher gender fluidity into fashion. This is evident in the Beauty Papers editorial where pop star Harry Styles is featured wearing nothing but underwear, fishnet stockings and loafers. The next images, however, showcases the pop star completely covered up in a custom made Gucci suit. One could argue that Alessandro Michelle is trying to capture the many looks of masculinity. Tearing apart the stereotype that there is only one way to be masculine.
Before Michele’s first collection, the stock for Kering SA, Gucci’s parent company, was struggling. After Michele, there was an immediate growth in sales, and Gucci continues to be influencing pop culture with exponential growth.Fashion has always been scared to display any sense of age or decay. Perhaps even more extreme than Michele’s embrace of gender fluidity is his strong belief that age shouldn’t be a factor when designing clothes. The drama that was a trait of Gucci ramp shows of the past was now replaced by designs that were gender fluid but made to look wearable. Unlike in the past, when androgyny in clothing was treated as a taboo, almost like a third gender, Michele’s approach was different, one of disregarding the gender lines altogether.
This influence is so apparent in the recent Beauty Papers editorial where Harry Styles is depicted as both masculine and femine. In some shots he dressed in a traditionally masculine suit with a face full of makeup. This could suggest that Alessandro Michele wanted to display the hybridity of masculinity and femininity. He blurs the line between the two traditional ideas of gender roles and looks in not only society but fashion. Another image from the shoot further emphasizes gender fluidity as Styles is wearing nothing but underwear and fishnet stockings. However, he has no make-up on and his body is covered in tattoos which displays the hybridity mentioned earlier. Fashion has taken a shift in the world where designers are able to communicate the current state of society through creating shocking pieces that push the boundary.