The old VS the new. Photo: NYTimes
There was a moment – about six years ago – when it became not just acceptable, but desirable to be a skinny boy. It was a size-mic shift, ushered in by Hedi Slimane at Dior Homme. All of a sudden (here in Auckland, at least), the boyfriends-of-choice were no longer burly bad boy gangstas in their XXL basketball jerseys and enormous jeans; rather, they had been replaced by runty little indie rockers in vintage leather jackets and pointy winkle pickers. I had long teetered on the edge of both worlds – I wore my basketball jerseys with skinny jeans and Nike Vandals. For us post-teen boys, it was quite literally an effortless ideal. There was nothing challenging about maintaining our size. We could eat what we liked, never exercise a day and still stay thin. We had a good run.
But apparently, the times they are a-changin’.
According to the New York Times, another shift is afoot. Your Jon Hamms and Javier Bardems are replacing the super-skinny, super-young runway and campaign models as the male beauty ideal.
“You lose the T-shirt and the skateboard. You buy an interview suit and a package of Gillette Mach 3 blades. You grow up, in other words. Suddenly evidence of a new phase in the cycle of evolving masculine imagery was all over the catwalks in the runway season that recently ended. Just as suddenly it can be seen splashed across the covers of magazines, where the boys of recent memory have been transformed overnight into men. “
What prompted this return to the man’s man? That old ubiquitous scapegoat, the economy. Apparently when times are tough, we want to rely on men who can do what men are supposed to be able to do – you know, build fires and houses and chop wood and carry our women across the threshold without breaking our backs.
But here’s the thing: I was at the shows last season, and the skinny boys still had a firm foothold in the market. Sure, there was the odd muscled man and a few guest appearances by 80s stars like Tony Ward, but they were at Dolce and Gabbana, Armani and Louis Vuitton – companies who always use older, buffer guys in their fragrance campaigns and the rest.
There’s no doubt that the magazines are trending towards more mature men, and that American workwear is oh so hot right now. But the return of the original male supermodels follows a similar pattern to their female counterparts – how many designers’ campaigns feature Helena, Kate and Christy right now? So many. No doubt that can be related to the economy too… right?
But with every influential designer from Prada and Raf Simons to Lanvin and Marc Jacobs still using the same skinny boys, it’s a pretty big call to say that skinny is finished. We’re three months out from another show season – perhaps everything will be different come January. It remains to be seen.
So here’s my question to you: What do you prefer? ‘Real’ men with chest hair and biceps like Don Draper or super-skinny models with porcelain skin and delicate wrists? And gentlemen, who would you rather look like?
I LIKE YOU!