As designers continue to explore and blur the distinctions between the
male and female dress code, we are beginning to see the emergence of
a new gender neutral aesthetic. The concept of the unisex urban uniform,
pioneered by Helmut Lang, has manifested itself in various ways the last
few years, and this season culminated with Chanel, Christian Lacroix and John Galliano showing their signature looks on men. Nicolas Ghesquiere showed the same outfit designed for both men and women at Balenciaga. And Christopher Bailey presented his much lauded truncated trench for women at his AW ’04 menswear presentation. The greatest indication of this trend was the presence of the cape (the ultimate gender neutral garment) in several men’s collections. Raf Simons, Dries Van Noten, Burberry, Byblos, and Number (N)ine all showed a variation on the cape to tremendous success. Our personal favorite was the Raf Simons multi-pocket utilitarian cape, which will undoubtedly be worn by the most fashionable girls and boys come fall. Although the success of this trend at the retail level remains unknown for now, there can be no doubt that we are in the midst of a wave of gender bending.
Photos: Raf Simons’ cape