|Say goodbye to stick men and hello to real men!|
For entirely too long the fashion industry has embraced what I consider a very unhealthy aesthetic. Just as designers chose junkie-chic female models like the skeletal Kate Moss, who appeared at most to consume 500 calories a day or less, designers choices for male models veered into the same silly turf.
Male models circa 2000 were no longer men but mere boys, lads, and, in their own ways, waifs and sylphs. Those are two terms formerly reserved for young girls but apt descriptions of the crop of boy-child models who have appeared in mainstream fashion magazines and clearly worn out their welcome.
It seemed to me that a insane pedophile had become the arbiter of masculinity among fashionistas. The models dressed in incredibly expensive finery often appeared to be children playing dress-up. They just couldn't carry the look off. Men had disappeared from the slick fashion spreads and boys had tried to fill their shoes and suits with distressingly poor affect.
|How Leyendecker drew men|
I remember the male models of my youth. They were a reflection of a very different attitude in our society toward the physical appearance of masculinity. The actors we admired were people like Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, and Clint Eastwood. In the generation of actors before them there were masculine icons like Gary Cooper, Henry Fonda, Glen Ford, Tyrone Power, and Rock Hudson. It was a time when the men on screen acted manly. Earlier, images like those of J.C. Leyendecker's Arrow Collar Man influenced the entire nation as to what real men of class and character resembled. (Granted, this was before most men of color were acknowledged at all, but that is a discussion for a different day.) Prior to the 1990's the men in GQ were gorgeously masculine and gloriously beautiful. They were the epitome of masculine beauty. Then there was a horrible shift and "The Night of The Wasted Waif" took hold of men's fashions. The only places you were likely to see old fashioned hunks were in commercials for shaving, smoking, and drinking. Suddenly, issues of Men's Vogue and other men's fashion bibles were littered with spreads peopled by kids who had never used a razor and couldn't legally belly up to the bar to buy a stiff shot. They were pale zombie stand-ins for the guys I had lusted after back in the day.
|Before my time but still an icon of masculine pulchritude, Mr. Gary Cooper.|
But, thankfully, trends turn, the recession has brought us back to our senses, and men are now making their presence felt in fashion land. (From Boys To Men) It seems ridiculous that anyone would ever believe that men's fashion should be represented by children but, in a frighteningly sick society, it was considered appropriate. I have a feeling a few major shifts in other areas have made this happen, not just the downturn in the economy. No business wants to appear as if it approves of pederasty and, after the scandal of the Roman Catholic Church, what was once hidden for the strength of its horror is now plainly evident. Also, since the late 80's, there has been a major movement toward a standard of masculine beauty that is more muscular and defined. This comes from the influence of bodybuilding and how what was once considered the realm of freaks is now accepted as of value. Physical culture has at long last become assimilated into the reluctant and resistant society. At least I see it more in gay circles these days. (Straight men seam to explode with added padding after they marry. Not a pretty trend.) Men today admire manly physiques, even older and bearish ones. Youth is still worshiped way too much, but the standard for acceptance of appearance for a young man now is that of a fitness model, not a emaciated Mountain Dew-addicted skater. In fact, if you look at the physiques of some of the body builders of the 80's you will see the template for the fit youth of today.
|Mr. Frank Zane, 80's physique exemplar.|
Designers cannot occupy a rarefied bubble for long. They have to respond to, if not create, the coming trends. I guess what has actually transpired here is that when these fashion designers went out in the real world they were confronted with an acceptance of masculine pulchritude that jarred with their vision of skinny, bird-legged boys as the perfect male ideal. How fortunate for all of us men who love men that those days of standardized pedophilia and androgen admiration have passed.
Now we can get back to one of the primary reasons I enjoy being gay: ogling men! Say it loud, say it proud: I LOVE MEN! . . . not boys.