Bringing Sexy Back; Who Puts the Sexy in to Fashion?

by Arash Mazinani on February 15, 2011

Being a guy in the fashion blogoshpere can be a bit of a lonely affair. I know there are others, however they tend to stick to discussing men’s fashion and style exclusively. Then you have the street style photographers like the wonderful Lee Oliveira and the now infamous Scott Schuman. However, finding men that blog and discuss women’s fashion seems to be a bit of a rarity. Which is quite remarkable considering that men seem to dominate the designer world. Do guys prefer to make fashion rather than discuss it?

It maybe a controversial statement that men tend to dominate fashion design? I don’t know. What I do know is that when I try and think of major fashion designers off the top of my head the men seem to out weigh the women. Dolce & Gabbana, Tom Ford, Christopher Bailey, John Galliano, Karl Largerfeld, Alber Elbaz, Alexander Wang, Nicolas, Ghesquiere, Stefano Pilati, Giorgo Armani, Alexander Wang, Roberto Cavalli, Marc Jacobs and I could continue. All of these guys are heading at least one of some of the major fashion houses. But why is that the case? Why are there so many men at the helm of women’s fashion. Tom Ford believes men make better designers for women as they don’t have to worry about body issues;

Men are often better designers for women than other women….I think we are more objective. We don’t come with the baggage of hating certain parts of our bodies

This brings me back round to the title of the thread then who puts the sexy into fashion? Inevitably it must be men if they dominate the designer world? When I think of sexy shoes I think of Christian Louboutin. Tom Ford was renowned for his ‘sexy’ designs at Gucci, his sexy swagger is now his signature. Dolce & Gabbana are obsessed with highlighting the female curves and each collection pays homage with a corset or two. Roberto Cavalli’s signature low cuts and exotic prints again inject the catwalk with an air of sexiness. But then I also think of Donna karen’s beautiful evening wear and I know Frida Giannini has done a good job of keeping up the sexy image that Tom Ford created at Gucci in the 1990s.

So really you have to look at the term ‘sexy’ because sexy to me may not be sexy to you. I didn’t set out to give you the answer to the question but rather get you thinking about it. I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts on the issues I mentioned in the post.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

GRIT & GLAMOUR February 15, 2011 at 1:22 pm

A-MEN to bringing sexy back! So many of the male designers you listed are my faves (with Tom Ford at the TOP of the list) because they celebrate the female body instead of shrouding it in schoolmarm silhouettes a la Miuccia Prada. Love me a Prada bag, but those clothes are so dowdy.

I agree with you on all points. Of course there are amazing female designers too…Donatella Versace, Donna Karan, and DVF do sexy very, very well. And Frida is a star, and she had some big shoes to fill after Tom Ford. And on the subject of Mr. Ford, I think his time off the scene changed him for the better as a designer, if it is possible. He cast women of all ages, shapes, and ethnicities In his uber-private first collection, proving that fashion is for EVERY WOMAN. We just need more designers who are willing to march to the beat of their own drums. Like Mr. Ford.

Great post.

••V••
http://www.gritandglamour.com
@gritandglamour

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Arash Mazinani February 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Thanks for your thoughtful reply V. I knew you’d come through and if I mentioned your favourite Mr Ford ;-). Back on the subject though I know there are female designers that can bring that sexy style thanks for bring up a few.

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Fashnlvr February 15, 2011 at 4:19 pm

There is no sexier shoe designer than Christian Louboutin – in my opinion. Every shoe of theirs I see – I fall in love. They are beyond my price point but I love them anyway. Perhaps men are better at seeing women objectively and knowing what makes them look and feel great. But these are special men – not every man can do that!
Like G&G says in her comment – I can’t stand “dowdy”!!
Interesting post Arash! Thought provoking…
http://www.fashnlvr.blogspot.com

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Arash Mazinani February 15, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Thanks for replying Fashnlvr. I agree I love the red sole on Louboutin’s shoes but when you hear him talk about women’s shoes you just know how passionate he is about them as well.

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Fashnlvr February 15, 2011 at 10:49 pm

I would love to hear him talk about shoes! I think then I could die! To be as successful as he is – passion for his niche is a MUST! I think that is conveyed by EVERY shoe with the label!
http://www.fashnlvr.blogspot.com

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No Guilt Fashion February 16, 2011 at 12:39 am

You must like Alexander Wang, you listed him twice. :) Regardless, I agree with you that a lot of the “sexy” designers are men. Like V mentioned there a few talented female designers out there that dress a women to make them feel desirable, but not as many as the guys.

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Arash Mazinani February 18, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I had to double check that and I did indeed mention Mr Wang twice ha ha thanks for pointing it out!

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Bonnie February 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm

I honestly don’t understand why female fashion designers are less prevalent than male designers considering that, as females themselves, they should know what women want. The only reason I see for why male designers tend to be more successful is because the male designers do not let their own tastes interfere with their designs. The female designers may be designing what THEY want and not what they clientele demands. They may be more biased, whereas the male designers can study the markets and their audience without bias and tailor their designs toward the masses.

http://glamkittenslitterbox.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @GlamKitten88

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Arash Mazinani February 18, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Thanks for visiting the blog and commenting, I hope I see you again :-) Again you make some good points, it maybe that men know what women want when it comes to designs as opposed to women designing for themselves??

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Casee Marie February 17, 2011 at 2:25 am

This is such a wonderful post. I’ve often considered why male designers seem so much more prominent in womenswear and I think Mr. Ford (love him! but who doesn’t?) hit the mark by saying that men are more objective. It makes me think of the great painters and sculptors in history whose muses and models were most often women. One wonders how different the Mona Lisa would look if she had been painted by a woman, you know? Could a woman capture that look in her eye, that je ne sais quoi, or is it something that can more intricately be seen from a man’s point of view? And while men are dominating fashion now they’re also responsible for much of its history – where would women’s fashion be without Hubert de Givenchy and Oscar de la Renta? At the same time I wonder if deep down women have a subconscious preference for the designs of men, from the point of view that male designers will have the best understanding of what other men find attractive. Which falls under the category of the age-old question: do women dress for themselves, for men, or for other women? It’s really fascinating, and proof that fashion has rather unexpected depth. Thanks for another thought-provoking read! Oh, and p.s., your About page is awesome. Very well done!

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Arash Mazinani February 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I’m glad you liked my about page Casee Marie. What a great comment thank you very much you bring some rather interesting points to the table. I’m not sure why women tend to be drawn to the mens designs. I mean it’s not like the fashion world has exclusively male designers, there are others like phoebe philo at Celine, but I tend think the male designers tend to be more provocative and have sexier designs.

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Lee Oliveira February 17, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I thought it was only me that when I have to think of designers of the top of my head I always think of males. Maybe its because we are guys. like someone said. Maybe we expect more out of female designers because they should know a women’s body better than a guy. If I do have to think of one women of the top of my head I think of DVF. She is a star. Oh, thanks for the mention too Arash. Very flattered ;)

Lee

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Arash Mazinani February 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm

You’re very welcome Lee!

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Fashion Limbo February 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Great post and it certainly gets us thinking. The thing is that one could argue that men make better designers, or bring the sexy out better because they adoration of the female shapes is complete, in a way I understand what Tom Ford says, but then again, many would argue that certain shapes in dresses, or certain unwearable heels were made by men that hated women hehehehe

Male designers certainly are more common, but maybe is due to other social factors like who makes better leaders, or who have it easier in life to climb positions, or many other questions we could raise. It would be interesting to study how Alexander McQueen’s shapes evolve now there’s a woman heading the designs.

Oh and another thing, if anyone adores the female shape unconditionally that would be Vivienne Westwood…her dresses are sooooo sexy :)

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Arash Mazinani February 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm

It certainly will be interesting to see the evolution of the McQueen label. It’s funny you mentioned other factors as well. When I was researching the topic one of the reasons that cropped up was many male designers have male apprentices so they naturally end up being the next wave of designers.

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Kim February 18, 2011 at 11:34 am

I don’t really know who puts the sexy in clothing, but I think you’ve made a good point! There are definitely a lot of male designers that often make the sexiest clothing. Guess I never really thought about it that way but it can certainly be true that they design more sexy clothing because that’s how they envision women & they like to celebrate the female body in a different way than a female designer would.
brunetteblogging.com

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Arash Mazinani February 18, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Yeah there is no doubt that men design for women in a different way, it’s great to get your opinion on the topic Kim! Thanks!

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Brianne February 19, 2011 at 11:21 pm

I think the prevalence of male designers is, like someone else said, because men view women in a different way than women view women – simply because of the novelty, and being observant of the body you don’t have and aren’t living in. Perhaps there’s also this risk that women inevitably design for themselves? I feel Donatella Versace does that quite often…

That being said, I’ve never thought that men are better designers than women. There have been influential idols on both sides, whether it’s Valentino or Madeleine Vionnet. Being able to “do” sexy relies on your own vision and skill, not your sex!

V. interesting discussion, thanks for the post!

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Arash Mazinani February 23, 2011 at 8:41 am

Thanks for commenting Brianne :-)

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kristy March 4, 2011 at 6:04 am

you bring up some really interesting points arash! great article.

i don’t know if men necessarily make *better* designers than women and i don’t know if not worrying about body image issues is necessarily a good thing… but men do typically dominate the design field. but then again, men dominate many industries and i think that still says something about society and women and how far we still need to go to gain true equality in terms of how we are regarded.

not to put down the difficulty of the design craft or anything, but much of fashion design lies in marketing as much as design. i think it can be far easier for men to create that larger than life persona for themselves and to command the kind of respect for themselves that is absolutely essential to be the head of a fashion label. there are many extraordinary female designers as well, but they do not seem to have the same kind of aura surrounding their name. most people will just mention diane von furstenberg because of all the female designers out there, she seems to be the most in control of her public persona and has a personality that commands respect. she actually reminds me of a man in that respect, and it’s one of the things i admire about her. but analyzing her designs, she isn’t my favorite female designer. i much prefer catherine malandrino, vera wang, and miuccia prada.

but anyway, that’s my two cents! sorry for the very long comment, but whenever i leave ridiculously long comments it means i especially liked the topic and article. =P so it’s a total compliment!!

Kristy Eléna – Full Time Fabulous
Vogue Gone Rogue
Twitter: @kristyelena

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