Lily Bling speaks about gender fluidity and the future of fashion industry!

We are one of 30 global youth platform partners in the launch of an initiative by CHIME FOR CHANGE and Irregular Labs to explore gender and our fluid future. Here’s an interview by Lily Bling, a London based stylist, talking about menswear, fluid genders and the future of fashion industry!

Finish the sentence, menswear is…

…very boring at the moment! Gender is…a very convoluted topic. I think that gender in fashion shouldn’t be so pigeonholed in terms of what we can and cannot wear. Menswear and womenswear should definitely be shown as one during fashion month. And even in retail spaces, they should be more combined because that’s when we can choose clothes because we like them despite who they are made for and not because they have been assigned to us.

What does the word glamour mean to you?

Glamour to me is when someone really puts on a show and stands out from the crowd,
bringing a positive spirit and that wow factor. The etymology of the word – a “glamour” – refers to a magic spell that you would cast on someone to make them see something that isn’t real, and I guess that meaning hasn’t really changed. Glamour means making an effort. If you wake up one day and feel low, throw on some glamour wear – diamonds, sparkles, feather and fur – and convince yourself and the world that you are amazing. I miss the idea that it would take people 6 hours to get dressed for an occasion. Nowadays we throw on a Vetements hoodie and some Balenciaga trainers, and that is our idea of dressing up!

What are some of the misconceptions when it comes to menswear, fashion and

Glamour is associated with femininity, and because masculinity is still so fragile, most men are afraid to add some glamour to their wardrobe for fear of being ridiculed. But actually, menswear wasn’t always so plain. If you look at the historic paintings at the National Portrait Gallery, these men in the portraits would dress in their most glamorous attire at the time. They would be dressed in feathers, embroidery and lots of bling, and these paintings were, and still are, lauded. So it baffles me when some people still are shocked when they see a man walking along the street in sequins and heels. When a man dresses glamorously, he is usually feminized or assumed to be gay, and I think that’s the main reason why menswear is usually less interesting as homophobia is still an issue we face today, especially from straight men.

Although ready-to-wear is slowly becoming more inclusive, couture fashion, which is often associated with glamour is still predominantly reserved for womenswear. What advice would you give to luxury designers to help them break out of outdated traditions?

It would be interesting to see more houses doing couture for menswear. Galliano recently did it at Margiela and I thought it was stunning. I suppose the menswear equivalent of couture is a custom-made tailored suit. But what about the men who don’t want to wear tailored pieces? There is more to be explored here, and I think if designers start providing men with more options, we could start to see even more of a shift.

Do you think the fashion industry’s current interest in gender has the potential to bring about real change when it comes to luxury fluid-wear?

I just worry that large fashion houses are tokenizing this idea of fluid-wear because it’s a buzzword at the moment. If they want to bring about real change they have to continue what they are doing by showing menswear and womenswear together, and as I said, allowing customers to shop in a space that doesn’t define their gender. That’s not to say all men should be shopping for dresses, but it means that we can choose something we like without a preconceived idea of who it was designed for. I think we are heading in the right direction though, and hopefully in a few years the rules won’t be as rigid and people won’t be judged at all for wearing what they feel comfortable in. At the end of the day, it’s just clothing…

Lily Bling, Stylist, London

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