Gender in Fashion Advertisements (Intro to Fashion Studies Post 2)


Katie Hill and Arin Andrews wearing Ann Demeulemeester. Photographed by Bruce Weber.

Barneys took a unique approach to their Spring 2014 campaign. They photographed trans-gendered models in the upcoming fashions. Each persons wears clothes of the gender they identify with. Its the juxtaposition of the model and the clothes that create a new impression of the image. The models themselves have defied gender norms of society by changing their sex. But they are also verifying these gender norms by wearing clothes or accessories that have a distinctive gender connotation.

In the image, Arin Andrews (sitting on the bridge) holds a football, something associated with men and boys. He’s also shirtless, something only men are able to do without being censored or being seen as vulgar. He appears as a man by presenting himself in men’s clothes.

On the other hand, Katie is wearing feminine clothes (however, I think they’re somewhat androgynous). Her shirt is long and there’s another piece over her pants that resembles a skirt. She’s wearing heeled boots, something usually reserved for women. Her hat is large (like a woman’s sun hat) and is made of a lacey fabric.

Susan Keiser points out a notable relationship between fashion and gender. She says, “In the context of euro-modernity, gender has been organized not only in binary terms but also through a cultural logic that visualizes fashion itself as feminine… At the same time, there is a huge contradiction at play… the euro modern expression that ‘clothes make the man’ — presumably applied most to signify hegemonic (bourgeois) masculinity (e.g. an understated but well-tailored business suit)” (Susan Keiser, 2012, under Soft assemblages section of Chapter:¬†Gendering Fashion, Fashioning Gender: Beyond Binaries). This quote describes the phenomenon that appears in this photo. Arin presented as male, has very little clothing on, so there isn’t much opportunity to deem him fashionable. However, Katie is wearing clearly a designer outfit, with multiple visual elements. She would be considered more fashionable than Arin. Arin’s lack of clothes further validates the gender norm that men’s clothes are to simple or functional.

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