Menswear, womenswear… who cares?

It’s been 53 years since French maison Balenciaga released a Couture collection. But under the guidance of Demna Gvasalia, Balenciaga couture made a remarkable return during Paris Fashion Week with a unisex collection that gave men a seat at the couture table.

Fusing the avant-garde vibe of Balenciaga with his own codes inspired by youth culture, the designer redefined the purpose of today’s couture and gender roles with his latest show during PFW.

Outside of Balenciaga’s gender-inclusive show, we also saw men’s couture by Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino, Kim Jones at Fendi and Giambattista Valli.

Giambatista Valli

But why are these houses choosing to dip their toe into men’s couture now?

By now, we’ve all seen the impact of the infamous Gen Z and how fierce they are to break the norms that people are so desperate to hold on to. Now, we have a generation who are not afraid to be in touch with their femininity on our hands. Thanks to TikTok’s extremely fast way of disseminating information, Gen Z is examining and restructuring the politics of gender and the codes of fashion through an intense process of self-reflection.

“There is not a ‘men’s couture’ or a ‘women’s couture.’ It’s just couture,” said Piccoli back in February, echoing Gvaslia’s words that “we want to kind of erase the gender identification of couture being only for women, or only for older women who have money to afford it.”

The approach to men’s couture, which has been a thing for a while now, at brands like Givenchy, Dior and Valentino has been to translate dreaminess of women’s couture into menswear. However, with Demna’s vision and the power of the youth, we are on a path to soften the stiffness of fashion’s upper echelons.

Digital fashion weeks during the pandemic witnessed many co-ed sows which proved that both can exist harmoniously together. So why treat couture differently, right?