AndrogyChic

Provoked by my recent perusal of YSL’s super-sharp 2010 Unisex collection I thought I’d take a little look at the tentative re-emergence of androgynous aestheticism on the runways this year. With names like Stella McCartney, 3.1 Philip Lim, DKNY and Alexander Wang leading the vanguard in borrowed-from-my-boyfriend modishness isn’t it about time you joined the boys’ brigade?

Yves Saint Laurent Edition Unisex Collection

YSL 'Le Smoking'

Last resurrected on the back of grunge in the nineties and epitomised by YSL’s legendary ‘Le Smoking’ Tuxedo in the sixties, the craze for the boyishly dressed girl first rocketed into the limelight in the Roaring Twenties with the infamous rise of the flapper. Page-boy bobs, loose straight tailoring, descending waist-lines were de rigueur, curls, cleavage and the fusty-old-hourglass silhouette were most definitely not. Scandalous.

While it may not be quite so shocking – so risqué – in today’s society, androgyny still packs a hefty sartorial punch delivering a double-whammy of highly sexualized ambiguity and convention-busting role appropriation (a derisory two fingers up to the rule book, if you will). If you think about it in terms of edge, androgyny is without a doubt the edgiest look of all; from tall, tailored and fierce (we’re talking man-eating fierce) to doe-eyed tomboyish naiveté, we’re talking the megagon of looks – at least.

3.1 Philip Lim s/s 2010

What you want to avoid (like the plague) with this look is overkill. Androgyny is a kind of best of both cherry-picking exercise in which you – funnily enough – take the best aspects from both gender closets and blend them together to create something which is neither one, nor the other. Think masculine silhouettes with a feminine twist – boxy-tailoring with skyscraper Louboutins for instance – or, reverse the idea and go for a girly summer dress with boyish brogues.

DKNY p/f 2010

Stella McCartney s/s 2010

Done well, boy-meets-girl is the undisputed supremo of style-sexy… but beware! Stray too far into the man-drobe and you run the risk of crossing the butch-border. Being mistaken for a man – or, for that matter, a socially contrived lesbian stereotype – is rarely (if ever) a good thing.

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ATTENTION! March Out this Summer in Utility

Chloe s/s 2010

It is an indisputable fact that there will be a point (or many points) this season when the saccharine romance of whimsical ruffles, floaty tulle and wholesome pastels just doesn’t cut it. Enter the slick workaday styling of  new urban utility: practical shapes, seriously smart design, rough-hewn simplicity – it’s edgy, versatile and smacks of rampant glamazonian independence. Military? Sports? Right across the s/s trendosphere, utility works to rework the ordinary into something altogether extraordinary and effortlessly cool. It’s time to join the new style army.

Look for Spartan-chic a la Chloe with constructed shirting and practical detailing; skinny leather belts are all the rage – try buying too large and knot rather than buckle as seen at Stella McCartney – for a streamlined martial look par excellance.

Chloe s/s 2010

Olive, khaki, camo, sage, sand, fawn – look to the front-line for colour inspiration – drab has never been so desirable. Alternatively, offer a salute to the super-stylish Balmain and work Gladiatorial-glam in glittering bronze and gold (tarnished please).

Balmain s/s 2010

For a sporty take on the trend look to Alexander Wang’s reworked all-American sportswear for inspiration: oversized raglan-cut grey sweatshirts, varsity jackets, extended-shoulders (taking epaulettes to the minimal max) and those strangely covetable cut-away-calf knee-high socks, make for effortless undone simplicity – keep it feminine and work-ready with peep-toe wedges and leather accessories.

Alexander Wang s/s 2010

Alexander Wang s/s 2010

More inspiration? Check out the Warehouse Utility Collection at InStyle UK