Next Generation Flower Power
With every generation, gender boundaries shift. As traditionally defined ‘male’ behaviors like aggression and dominance fall out of favor and gender-equality and peaceful co-existence flourish, fashion and fragrances that float between those traditional gender lines are on the upswing. With every passing season, the list of style taboos grows shorter and shorter with evermore neutral styles and genderless silhouettes.
Did you know that there once was a time in New York when a woman could be arrested for wearing pants in public?
Nowadays, a woman topless in public in New York won’t even get you a sideways glance from police. Though a man carrying a clutch with a bow blouse might still turn a few heads outside the limits of New York City. Even so, we are as a culture undeniably more fluid.
Look no further than the popularity of Brad Pitt or Zac Efron with their delicate, pretty faces. Ian Somerhalder of Vampire Diaries’ has built a career of batting long black lashes and puckering his dewey, pouty lips.
Jared Leto wears more black eyeliner than Snookie. Cillian Murphy’s beautiful blue eyes, cheekbones for days and full lips are so exceptionally feminine that he has even convincingly portrayed female characters in Peacock (2010) and Breakfast on Pluto (2005). As has another very talented and handsome young actor, Eddie Redmayne, in his role as Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl (2015)
Though “manly-men” with hairy chests and Neanderthal brows still break their fair share of hearts, the “pretty boys” seem to have recently gained a pole position in the charts.
Whatever your own morphologic gifts of sexual persuasion, if you are looking to amp it up with a fashion statement that is outside the GAP and Banana Republic big box, then I recommend you stop into a not so little store at 684 Broadway in New York City called The Phluid Project.
Located a stone’s throw from the heart of Soho, The Phluid Project is part retail, part “experiential platform,” aimed toward gender-nonconforming consumers. What The Phluid Project is proposing is less about clothes — though there’s a lot of them — and more about creating an inclusive retail experience. The 3,000-square-foot store is bathed in white, with large windows and high ceilings. It even has a community space in the basement that hosts a bevy of meetups and support a variety of social causes which benefit men, women and all.
Self-purportedly, it is not just the first gender-free retail space in New York but the first in the world.
In addition to gender-inclusive stores, there are designers, like One DNA (available at Phluid Project) which prides itself on making gender-neutral clothing basics. Given that mastering a solid rotation of basics is a challenge for people of any gender, I admire its collections of boxy, oversize hoodies; tunics that are appropriate both for the office and for a night out on the town.
Gender-inclusive style isn’t just about men wearing pink pants and skirts, it includes what some might consider a manly but “dapper” aesthetic.
Wilde Vertigga, a designer available at Flying Solo NYC, is inspired in its asymmetrical design by playwright and aesthete Oscar Wilde. The label’s in-house fragrance, Wilde Kush, is one that lovers of a certain plant, no matter their sex, will appreciate. Kirrin Finch creates garments — mainly shirts and paints — with stylish color accents in the collar, cuffs, and gusset areas, an inspiration taken from English tailors.
Scents that swing the pendulum of assertive and self-confident to sweet and sensual give us freedom to express ourselves differently.
Most times I wear perfume simply for myself, to elevate my vibe or stir in me a mood to which I aspire. But I also enjoy scent’s power to inspire that something (or someone) else I desire. Like a bee to honey, many of us wear fragrances to attract the things and others.
It’s believed that humans can distinguish a trillion smells. Why limit that based on gender when it comes to what you buy in a bottle?
The idea that scents should be free gender-bias is a growing trend in fragrance. There is a rising tide of fragrance houses that do not pander to gender-binaries, simply creating fabulous scents for all without defining them as “for her” or “for him”. KIERIN NYC is on of those break out brands leading the pack that trusts the individual to determine what is best “for them”. Hallelujah for that!
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Author: Mona Maine de Biran
Manhattan Minds is an inspired blog on New York City Art, Beauty, Fashion and Lifestyle.
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