Already bogged down by so much oppression, a new definition of masculine is emerging, challenging the norm, one thought-provoking sense of fashion at a time. Thank you, Ezra Miller.
Nothing surprises me anymore, really. Taking offense over absolutely the most mundane online? That’s just breakfast. The blood-thinning demise of society, politics, and humanity? Hit harder. Wearing outrageous, over-the-top fashion just for the mere sake of double taps, and dare we say it, engagement? Come at me bro, you can do better. Unless, of course, you are Ezra Miller.
No stranger to raising more than just a few eyebrows way past the point of subtle judgment, making heads turn, and settings tongues wagging with his statement-making, gender-disrupting sartorial choices, the openly queer actor set the highly-opinionated Internet-ville on fire with the looks he turned out for the multiple premieres of his recent film, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. While his character, Credence Barebone, charted an eventual vengeful progression anchored on reticence, his real self is more playful, forward, and expressive—which manifests itself in his sense of fashion on and off the red carpet.
At the Paris premiere of the aforementioned Crimes of Grindelwald, Miller disrupted the red carpet by showing up in a black Moncler by Pierpaolo Piccioli caped puffer dress complete with a swipe of deep, dark burgundy lipstick to complete the mood. A week later, he shook the tail feathers of conservative classicists by appearing in an immaculate white Givenchy couture top decorated with plumage, which he paired with tailored trousers, silver spiked hair, and metallic highlighted face. Now, before you run your mouth and call this a gimmick, you must know that he has had made several turns in traditionally atypical choices, such as a patched suede jacket at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Awards, a purple overcoat at the Ocean’s 8 premiere, a pearlescent jacket with calculated studded details paired with sharp silver boots at another Fantastic Beasts premiere (this time in Beijing), and even coming in as Nintendo character, Toadette, at the 2018 San Diego Comic Con.
Yes, Ezra Miller went there.
But this is more than just a curation of curious (at least to the conservative) fashion. This is but part of the continuing conversation of denouncing gender stereotypes and age-old rules written by hard-pressed men that have long weighed down expression and subsequently, progression.
Taking a cue from Mr. Miller, it’s high time we start challenging what we have been told to do—starting with the way we dress.
THE TAKE DOWN
It may seem mundane, a hair-splitting chore even, going through your selection of clothes, deciding what sort of armor to decorate yourself with before heading out to face your day. But if there is anything fashion has taught us, it is that this crucial moment can dictate your mood, deciding whether you’ll be chipper and comfortable in your mustard yellow fitted shirt paired with perfectly tailored orange trousers, or you’ll be somber with the society-prescribed striped navy button-down and ill-fitting charcoal pants.
While there is nothing wrong with the latter, especially if that is what makes you feel you, then there shouldn’t be anything wrong if a man decides to opt for a woman’s silk button-down, moderately-heeled boots, or heck, even that floor-grazing skirt—granted it is appropriate and considerate to the professional codes you work for.
Seriously though, does anything beyond the limited checklist of standards that include neutral-colored, strictly precise, and unerringly basic fashion (if we can even call it that at this point), take away from one’s masculinity? King Louis XIV apparently had a penchant for red silk-covered heels, and yet he was still revered and respected as the royal that he was. Will wearing a ruffled or lace-detailed top demean one in any way? David Bowie took a liking to the outlandish and flashy and yet he still managed to catch the attention of supermodel Iman. You see, clothes do not make the man. What it does is it helps express what is inherent, allowing one to settle into the comfort of one’s truth of truths. Conversely, there shouldn’t be any reason to vilify or criticize a man for his sartorial choices. That is solely his decision to make for himself and no one else. So, go sit your skewed textbook definition of masculinity down. Or better yet, tear that page and toss it aside. If you feel right wearing what you want, then so be it.
ALL STEAM AHEAD
This generation has seen an army of men rushing to the frontlines of this revolution aimed to take down a privileged patriarchy, bringing a world of partial expectations down to the ground. From the preference of Harry Styles for kitsch, quirk, textures, and a sky of prints, to Ansel Elgort flaunting his rainbow-painted nails on social media, fashion and the statements that come with it are no longer defined by the limiting gender binaries. If it is making someone uncomfortable then it is a sure sign of progress, especially if you decide to walk on past with a swish or swagger to your gait. Nothing pisses of the stereotype-thumping conformist than an enviable dose of nonchalance.
“I barely identify as a human,” Ezra Miller declares in the story that accompanied a striking, searing, and stunning set of images for GQ and Playboy that has him sporting gender fluid fashion. Case in point, he toes the line between the masculine and feminine in GQ with spirited menswear accentuated by painted nails, a dark lip, a slick of curled hair tumbling on his forehead. Meanwhile, at his request, his playboy series sees him crossing the boundaries of traditionally this and that with bunny ears, patent pumps, and even a Burlesque-inspired lace number. Visually, even with the inclusion of feminine elements, there still exists a thread of masculinity, a seamless coalescing of the yin and yang of a human being. And there isn’t anything offensive about—at least there shouldn’t be. Why would it be?
There is already so much oppression shackling us to the ground, even going as far as pulling us back to a dark, regressive era, why do we have to be dictated by such an aspect as dressing up? Fashion, at its very core, has always been irreverent. Constantly craving for change, it has consistently run on a currency of the new, the next, and the now, persistently testing the limits and pushing boundaries where and when it exists. Subjecting men to what they should or shouldn’t be wearing is moot at this point, because really, who has the right to tell us what to wear and essentially, who to be?
There exists a new order in masculinity, and fashion, if it will have its way, these binaries will cease to exist, as well as the bigotry and privilege that have done nothing but stand in the way of true progress. It may just be a heel, a dress, or sequined top to you, but fashion will have its way sooner than later, trust us. Look, it’s already happening and nothing and no one can stop this train that all steam ahead. So, are you getting in and enjoying the ride, or will you stay stranded on the platform? Your move.