He’s a Woman, She’s a Man

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One of the most disarming news features doing the rounds of the internet has been of Nils Pickert, a father of a five-year-old boy who likes wearing his older sister's dresses. Pickert began wearing dresses and skirts too, so people wouldn't question and alarm his son.

History and pop culture have the androgynous labeled as rebels, or as men or women who enchant and entertain society. Punk and rock stars such as Boy George, David Bowie, Steve Tyler and Mick Jagger, iconoclasts like Coco Chanel (who borrowed from her lover Etienne Balsan's equestrian wardrobes often) and Marlene Dietrich added to the nonconformist repute.

In the 1920s, the flapper generation of women cut their hair boyishly short and began to adopt a gamine's body aesthetic as well. In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent created the women's tuxedo or le smoking. By the 1980s, women were in boardrooms and wearing trousers everywhere. In Woody Allen's Annie Hall, Diane Keaton famously wore tucked in shirts, waistcoats and trousers.

Androgyny may not be a modern idea at all, especially when one notes that women first wore trousers in Genghiz Khan's Mongolia. But it's especially interesting to note how it is coming out of its outlier mould and finding itself a more socially acceptable stool to straddle. It has become an evolving and large-scale phenomenon that even those outside of fashion's circles can't be oblivious to.

Like Brad Pitt for one. Who would've thought the man labeled the sexiest man alive by everyone who runs quizzes like these would model for women's perfume? Chanel has signed up the Hollywood actor to be the face of its No. 5, one of the brand's best-selling perfumes. The choice of Pitt, according to Marielou Phillips, Chanel India's head of press and public relations, "reflects the daring approach that has always characterised Mademoiselle Chanel in everything she undertook."

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