Alongside the autumn/winter menswear collections, women’s pre-collections have been trickling out. Sometimes, at the same time: at the Prada presentation last Sunday, a dozen female models marched on to the catwalk from a different entrance, clad in Prada’s pre-fall 2014 fashions, like a “photo-bomb” of the blokes’ show.
Nevertheless, Prada’s interlopers underline a major emergent theme:unisex. It isn’t unisex in the anodyne, neutered manner of the mid-1970s, an era clad in drab denim dungarees, when fashion was shorn of sexiness in favour of alleged equality. I suppose everyone looking hideous is kind of a leveller. But our new unisex seems more challenging and confrontational.
The new unisex is Prada’s stockingette knits and slinky 6ft chiffon scarves, regardless of gender; it’s Riccardo Tisci offering intricate prints and couture fabrics for him and for her; it’s JW Anderson pulling shapes from his men’s winter show and pushing them straight into his womenswear pre-collection. Those shapes were markedly feminine, but they somehow served a double function. The capes looked swaggering on his blokes, not swishy.
It reminded me of the work of Antony Price, who dressed men and women alike in nipped-waisted suiting in luscious velvets and taffetas. I always thought of it as Barbie doll meets Action Man, the idea of pushing the male and female figures to the extreme.
Ultimately, the new unisex is about celebrating those polar opposites and blurring them together, not ironing out every gender-identifying physiognomical lump and bump.