Saturday, 9 February 2008

Is the Vanishing Point going unnoticed?

Just as I was leaving New York I had a few moments to kill as the gf was packing up (frantically cramming things into her suitcase and, when that was full, mine) and I read an article in the New York Times. The point of the article was that over the last few years the body shape of the male model has changed, the preferred frame aesthetic is now much leaner than before and whilst everyone worries about thin female models, the skinny man goes unnoticed.

The article refers to Slimanization - the dominance of the scrawny kid at castings.

It is certainly true that the sleekness of Dior Homme suits made other designs appear boxy and old. I actually took a class at Uni for my Law and Sociology degree titled Masculinities which explored, amongst other things, the Male Body and back then in 2003 a musucular and athletic form was preferred. It was interesting reading the view point of American who are used to seeing muscular male models championed by the likes of athletic menswear brands such as Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. John Bartlett is interviewed and says "The eye has changed. Clothes are now tighter and tighter. Guys are younger and younger. Everyone is influenced by what Europe shows." It is true that designers like Raf Simons, Prada and Slimane champion the scrawny and younger guy so this leaves the big, powerful models of old even unable to squeeze themselves in sample sizes. Demian Tkack an Argentine model has the last words within the article "I understand the designers are not looking for a male image anymore. They're looking for some kind of androgyne."

The image used in the article, models Sascha Kooeinga (left) and Artem Emelianov (right).

Should we be ranting and raving about the state of male models in the way in which has recently taken place for Womenswear or is this the scrawny kid getting their own back on all those guys who used to kick sand in their face on the beach? Personally I feel that trends go round and around, this has just been the time where the thin guy takes the limelight as androgyne prevails. As tastes and fashions evolve,masculinity should not be measured by the size of a man's bicep but by a myriad of complimentary and contradictory facets. If people believe that the scrawny ideal is an unhealthy ideal as they champion the more butch body, then they forget how unhealthy the road can be to reach this ideals. A fact that has stayed with me ever since those uni lectures is that if the Wolverine (a member of the X Men) action figure was lifesize his biceps would measure 48 inches. Is a waist of twenty eight inches more or less unhealthy than a body (Wolverine's) of such celebrated (allbeit caricature like) of masculinity? In conclusion, as long as the man is 'healthy' there is no need for debate. Let the clothes speak for themselves.

I think this is a very complex issue that I find difficult to discuss briefly here. I will, however, say that while I agree that as long as the man is healthy, then it shouldn't be a big deal, when people are shown only one body type (whether pumped up or super-skinny) it can lead to feelings of inadequacy that can have very negative and strong impacts on men's lives. Whether this is fashion's responsibility or not is very much up for debate.


Anonymous said...

i believe there's totally nothing wrong with it. fashion is an abyss where something has to revolve and change all the time so it's pretty natural that we all got bored with the image of a steroid-chicken-guys a la abercombie&fitch. it just feels wrong now. as for me... i've just lost approximately 8 kilos and i was really slim before), the muscles are gone and i am enjoying my new body. it's just a new side of beauty and sexuality, it's not the better or the worse one.
in the end, not the muscles nor the weight are the things which define the masculinity.

Anonymous said...

I can see your point here.
but Yes, this will blur the line.
Androgyny will really be the part of our life sooner than we thought.

Anonymous said...

Fashion, even the realm of menswear is ultimately fickle.

Aesthetic preferences change as often as a model backstage and it's high-time there came a change regarding the male ideal, I can't think how some expected the statuesque demigod appearance to reign forever. The cyclic nature of fashion dictates change - constant change, and personally, as long as the skinny models hired are 'healthy' as you've mentioned, I can't pinpoint a problem.


Thomas said...

When I see men who have thighs thinner than their knees, I have to wonder just how healthy they are. I understand that these men are ectomorphs and not your average beer drinking, pizza eating weekend hockey player (i.e. me). That said, doods is thin. THIN.

j said...

I'm not sure I'm that influenced by male fashion models. I'm pretty athletic and have always lifted weights and done aerobics just because I want to be in athletic shape. I really don't try for a look. I'm just glad slim clothes are becoming popular because I'm really tired of finding nothing but "relaxed fit" in the stores around here which never fit me.

Anonymous said...

This is disgusting. Now male models are being faced with the same issues as women. Becoming too thin is not the way to go. What happened to the fit man and fit woman? What happened to curviness of a woman's frame? What happened to the rigid manly structure of a man. I am so tired of "thin is in". We need to remember that it is regular people who buy designer clothing. And if the clothes don't fit the buyer then the designer has not sale. I want to go into a store see what I like, find it in my size and buy it. And with that. . . I'm finished!

Anonymous said...



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