“I consider myself a designer of men’s fashion and I always keep in mind the silhouette of a man when I imagine my pieces”, affirms without hesitation Bianca Saunders, winner of the Andam 2021 prize, a competition placed under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and which has rewarded young designers every year since 1989. ” What interests me is to study the traditional methods of manufacturing men’s clothing, such as tailoring skills, in order to better revisit them ”, adds the Briton, aged 28, who is part of this new line of designers who are redrawing the contours of masculinity. “Nothing prevents a woman from wearing my pieces, but my job is first of all to dress the men ”, argues the American Chelsea Grays, graduated in 2019 from l’Academy of Art University of San Francisco.
Over the past three years, Londoners Bethany Williams, Priya Ahluwalia, Paria Farzaneh and New Yorker Emily Bode have also launched their men’s fashion label, following the path opened by Martine Rose and Grace Wales Bonner. « I think a space has been created for men to express who they really are. I also have the impression that they are getting used to new experimental silhouettes and are much more open to contemporary colors and cuts ”, sums up Bianca Saunders, who offers gathered shirts, pleated jackets, crop tops and vaporous scarves tied on the head, mixing poetry and sensuality, exploring unknown aspects of “Black masculinity”.
“Historically, from the army to the London master tailors of Savile Row, it was men who set the rules for the men’s wardrobe in Britain. Surprisingly, most men today still dress for other men rather than women. Peer pressure drives conformism; only a slight subversion is then authorized to circumvent the imposed uniform. With these designers, the dynamic is different, they are more likely to transgress these rigid ideas about what a man can or cannot wear ”, decrypts Andrew Groves, director of the men’s clothing archives at the University of Westminster.
Patchwork knit skorts and tunics
In their practice, these creators do not hesitate to explore their roots, punctuating their collections with autobiographical stories. Thus, Priya Ahluwalia, born in London, in 1992, of a Nigerien father and an Indian mother and who launched her brand in 2019, mixes hoodies and sports pants evoking the rave culture of the 1990s, colorful knit inspired by the knits his Punjabi grandfather wore in the 1970s and casual plaid suits.
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When women dress the men