He’s a Woman, She’s a Man


It's important to realise that what is "socially acceptable" keeps changing too. A woman wearing a pant-suit may have been scandalous 50 years ago, but it doesn't cause an eyelid to flutter now. Au contraire, several women have opted out of the ubiquitous and overkilled dress (that finally turned our socialites into mutton dressed as lambs) and find themselves in the terribly chic women's tux. Actresses Kangana Ranaut, Neha Dhupia, Sonam Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and singer Anushka Manchanda have worn these to paparazzi-filled events.

While it is common for women's fashion to adopt masculine styles, men's fashion adopting a feminine style is only just beginning. (Although Jean Paul Gaultier put men in skirts in the '80s, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen followed it in the Noughties.) American singer Kanye West and actor Samuel L Jackson in a skirt are hot tabloid items. Actor Jared Leto recently tweeted a picture of himself in a skirt, writing "Real men wear skirts".

Androgyny has also seeped into men's fashion through accessories, bright colours, loafers such as those by Tod's and colourful ties, pocket squares and socks, like those by Paul Smith. The "dandy" is rather commonplace: restaurateur AD Singh wears a lungi as elegantly as he does a Canali suit. Cricket commentator Gautam Bhimani and jewellery marketeer Vikram Raizada are hugely experimental with vivid colours, prints and more fitted silhouettes.

This subtle trend that's fast gaining steam needs to be looked at anthropologically. "The Indian male has always been androgynous but it hasn't been 'androgyny' for us," says Varun Rana, general manager, marketing and communications, Genesis Luxury, a company that owns franchises of labels such as Paul Smith, Tumi and also Jimmy Choo, Bottega Veneta and Furla. "India has been the paragon for the unstitched garment for much longer, a lungi is the sari equivalent for a man."

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