Tuesday, May 17, 2011
"Men are often better designers for women than other women... Of course there are many more gay male designers. I think we are more objective. We don't come with the baggage of hating certain parts of our bodies... Sometimes women are trapped by their own views of themselves, but some have built careers around that. Donna Karan was obsessed with her hips and used her own idiosyncrasies to define her brand." - Tom Ford
Despite fashion being something frequently associated with a fancy of women, it is arguable that men dominate the field as designers, photographers, and in some cases, even models.
Some say that men (gay men in particular) are simply better for this industry. If one looks at a list of winners of the Council of Fashion Designers of America awards from years past, it is evident that male designers prevail. This year, the Womenswear Designer of the Year award nominees include Alexander Wang, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez (the duo at Proenza Schouler), and Marc Jacobs. The Swarovski Award for Womenswear nominates Joseph Altuzarra, Prabal Gurung, but only one female team (Mary-Kate and Ashely Olsen at The Row). Similarly, all menswear nominees are indeed men.
All nominees are talented designers, but it is illustrated that the proportion of prominent designers is not equal among both genders, despite that fashion school students are mostly female (usually 85 to 95 percent). Of course, this could be influenced by a variety of things, from the fact that professional women have only climbed to the top relatively recently, Anna Wintour's alleged preference of male designers, or the camaraderie between men as opposed to the perceived rivalry between women.
But what about highly influential female designers - Coco Chanel? Miuccia Prada? Donna Karan? Kate and Laura Mulleavy at Rodarte? And a personal favorite, Stella McCartney? These women are not just female designers, though. They stand alongside their male peers, equally. It's ridiculous to say that only male designers have achieved success.
Compared to other industries, fashion is accepting of and accessible to women, but there's still a handful more men that get ahead. I have no idea if "things are changing," nor does there seem to be any evidence that there is a disparity (thus no suggestion that the gap is lessening).
What are your thoughts?
For more reading, check out "In Fashion, Who Really Gets Ahead?" by Eric Wilson.
PS I've become obsessed with Tumblr. You can check mine out here.