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Blurring The Lines Between Masculinity And Femininity–Harry Styles US Vogue Cover

Harry Styles US Vogue Cover

Styles wears Gucci Jacket and dress. Photographed by Tyler Mitchell, Vogue December 2020

Bow down, people!! Harry Styles has just made historic move as the first solo male to be on the cover of Vogue. Styled by Harry Lambert, the singer is seen wearing a lilac-blue ballgown with black lace trimmings, completing the look with a black coat on top of it. It was astonishing to see the transformation of harry from being a 14-year-old heartthrob to now who is pushing the boundaries of gender fluidity. The cover was a culmination of decade long transition of his personal style. Shot by Tyler Mitchell, the cover also contains numerous looks of harry in skirt, kilt, trench coat, Victorian crinoline, and many more. All were created by Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele and will be part of the Autumn/Winter collection. As the first photo was released, instantly the debate on masculinity took over the internet. Receiving a lot of appreciation for acknowledging the gender-neutral clothing style and taking one step ahead in cover shoots. A source in Conde nest has leaked that Vogue has sold around 40,000 subscriptions since the cover was launched plus a waiting list at stores of the singer’s fans to get the edition. All in all the bible of fashion has once again proved they are one who sets the definition of fashion. However, it also sent a shock wave across the world that raised the eyebrows, criticizing for dressing a man in female’s clothing i.e. degrading their masculinity. It was the first time Vogue has done something like that for the main cover photoshoot. But the gender-neutral clothing or say men wearing dresses has been going on for years. This time the cover and high-profile celebrity like harry style have put it on the map, getting a lot of public attention thus receiving mixed reviews.

Breaking the barriers

Many celebrities applauded the move for breaking the barriers of gender stereotypes. Actors like Olivia Wilde, Elijah Woods, and Jamila Jmeel showed their support through social media. Styles have always been considered fashion-forward. In an interview, he said, “What’s feminine and what’s masculine, what men are wearing and what women are wearing, it’s like there are no lines anymore.” Earlier singers like Prince, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, and Mick Jagger have all been known for wearing makeup, sequin dresses, gown during their concert. In 2017 Zayn Malik a fellow One Direction member along with Gigi Hadid broke the gender codes by wearing the same androgyny-inspired suit on the Vogue cover. Besides that Ezra Miller, Cody Fern and Billy Porter have worn dresses, long gowns on the red carpet events. Seeing Harry Styles in a gown on the fashion bible has encouraged many sexually fluid people to come out of their shells with confidence and embracing their non-binary gender at the same time. The cover has helped to make sexually fluid, non-gender clothing acceptable among society.

For Styles, his friend and muse Gucci’s Alessandro Michele crafted a frothy, lace-trimmed creation, paired here with a double-breasted tuxedo jacket. Photographed by Tyler Mitchell, Vogue, December 2020

Bring back manly men

A good deed always comes with criticism and this topic is no exception. Social media was filled with memes trolling Harry Styles, making a mockery of a person who is setting a benchmark on gender stereotypes. A lot of people were not comfortable watching a guy wearing a skirt, gown on a public platform. One of them was Candace Owens, a trump supporter, and a conservative commenter. Tweeted-“There is no society that can survive without strong men. The East knows this. In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence. It is an outright attack. Bring back, manly men. Followed by Ben Shapiro’s tweet (fellow American conservative political commentator)-“This is perfectly obvious. Anyone who pretends that it is not a referendum on masculinity for men to don floofy dresses is treating you as a full-on idiot.”

Contemporary Wardrobe Collection
Blazer and kilt by Comme des Garçons Homme Plus, Falke socks, and brogues from The Contemporary Wardrobe Collection. Photographed by Tyler Mitchell, Vogue, December 2020

It is still dumbfounded for lot of us -why people are getting so offended with just a stand out fashion cover. As an Indian, I have been brought up studying a culture where dhoti was worn by both men and women. Hindu deities were always pictured wearing heavy jewelry with shiny glimmering clothes that can’t be defined as gender-specific. Even in western countries during the Victorian-era men used to wear stocking, tight leggings with heavy makeup. At the time when women used to wear white caps, men, rich aristocrats were flaunting their long shoulder-length locks in portraits sometimes even using wigs. Makeup, wigs, jewelry were considered a sign of royalty and power. If a fashion cover inspires people to live they want to live be it in any type of non-specific gender clothing let them be. Now is a time to appreciate what others do or wear, allow them to be who they want to be.

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