Frock horror: should men wear skirts?

Some certainly think so, reports Lucy O'Brien

Lucy O'Brien
Sunday 02 February 1997 00:02
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"Wearing a skirt does make me feel vulnerable, it's a new experience. But so far I haven't encountered a lot of hostility. In England people just smile," says Martin, skirt-wearer and spokesman for Cunst Art, a small group of "cultural terrorists". Their latest campaign (heralded by a leaflet which begins: "Men - if you don't think women are second rate, wear a skirt") aims to blur the boundaries of boyswear and strike a blow for women.

Martin earnestly explains that he is not into drag. In the same way that women wore trousers as a protest in 19th-century France when the Government made it illegal, Cunst encourage men to strike a blow for equality and make the skirt everyday male attire. Martin has been gamely baring his legs in order to set an example. "The average man won't wear a skirt because he's afraid of women. Hairy-arsed men play rugby every weekend with shorts shorter than the shortest mini, but they won't wear a skirt because they feel it reduces them, makes them less powerful," he says.

Martin is not the first to break with convention. Whether it's Danny La Rue in his sequinned gowns, Lily Savage in drag, Mick Jagger in a smock or Kurt Cobain in a Riot-frock, men have worn skirts in everything from panto to rebel rock. But will there come a time when, in an ideal Cunst world, men make skirts part of their "normal" wardrobe? The style commentator Peter York believes that it will only catch on if "acceptable" male role models adopt the look. "Someone cheeky and bold, like a footballer, someone who is definitely bracketed as 'het'," he says.

York recommends targetting young trendy men - or "dandy louts" as he calls them. These twentysomethings who exist in the Loaded world, somewhere between club puppy and Essex lad, might see skirt-wearing as a way of showing off for the girls. Scottish men in kilts, for example, have done it for years, and early Eighties bands like Spandau Ballet did it very successfully with just the right sartorial male/female mix.

But do men actually look good in skirts? Martin from Cunst Art thinks that the male physique is perfectly suited to it. "We are tall with lovely legs and tight little bums. We were made for skirts."

To get in touch with Cunst Art, call 0171 792 8805 or the Women's Art Library on 0171 731 7618

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