The British singer continues to break boundaries, and strike gold as the first man to ever appear on the magazine cover solo…
Harry Styles has had a busy year despite, you know, the worldwide lockdown. Following the release of his sophomore album Fine Line in December 2019, Styles has kept his fans busy during quarantine with knitting, among various other DIY projects. He’s lulled us to sleep with his collaboration with the Calm app, he had us singing about Watermelon all summer, booked his second role as an actor in a major motion picture, and to finish off his record-breaking year, he’s on the cover of the December issue of American Vogue. The first male to ever appear on the cover solo in the 128 years of publication. It’s a big deal, a really big deal.
Styles is not new to experimenting with his look. His time in One Direction saw him constantly changing up his hair, and the evolution of his style. Starting from baggy jeans, beat up sneakers, and Abercrombie polos, which quickly turned into bowties and blazers. The blazers eventually turned into YSL leather boots, flowy button downs, skinny jeans, and one breathtaking black and white floral Gucci suit at the 2015 American Music Awards. However, that was just a small taste of what we would see Styles in once he embarked on his first solo world tour. While on stage, fans came to expect Harry to perform in one-of-a-kind, or straight off the runway looks from the world’s biggest fashion houses. So, appearing on the cover of Vogue wearing a Gucci ballgown, customized to one of his favourite colours, a dreamy baby blue, was no surprise to his millions of fans. However, it struck a chord with some.
In the days following the release of the cover, the internet seemed divided on a man wearing gown on the cover of the world’s biggest magazine (from my end, it was overwhelmingly supportive). Twitter erupted Sunday when conservative writer Candace Owens posted about the cover, along with a call to action for men to start being “manly men” again. Styles’s fanbase, which consists largely of young millennials, and gen z admirers, quickly came to his defense. Also hitting back at the critics is actress turned director Olivia Wilde, who is currently directing Harry in his second film role. Wilde simply tweeted Owens “You’re pathetic”. Short, but poignant. Following Owen’s tweet, on Monday men all over Twitter started posing in dresses and sharing the photos. The verdict is in. Men look great in dresses. My admiration for men wearing dresses aside, this is all part of a bigger conversation we should be having. Styles is by far not the first to blur the lines of gender with clothes, but he is one of the biggest names in entertainment right now, so this is huge. Along with actor Timothée Chalamet, British singer Yungblud, Styles is one of the superstars who are currently ushering a new way of dressing, and it’s simply just about wearing what you want regardless of what other people think.
Appearing in a frothy, baby blue Gucci gown on the cover of the magazine’s final cover of 2020, Styles often pushes the boundary with what he wears, recently sporting more looks traditionally worn by women. Sheer blouses, sequins, heeled boots; there is nothing he won’t try, and effortlessly pull off. He often talks about his love of fashion, and how he doesn’t really care about wearing clothes from the “women’s section”. He just wears what he likes. Harry admits he’s always loved playing dress-up, and credits his adventurous, and ever-changing look to his stylist Harry Lambert. Lambert, who has been styling Harry for a number of years, is partly responsible for the star’s colourful style. In the magazine’s spread Styles is pictured wearing looks from Gucci, Bode, JW Anderson (the designer of his patchwork cardigan that has taken TikTok by storm during the pandemic), and new designer Harris Reed, who made a number of looks for Harry’s first tour. Rounding out the creative team for the shoot, is Tyler Mitchell, who you might remember as the photographer responsible for Beyonce’s 2018 September issue cover of the magazine.
This cover was meant to turn heads. It was meant to push the boundaries and make us think and talk about the existence of gender binaries in fashion, and in society. While there are items of clothes that have designated for men, and women, items of clothing can’t have a gender. It’s fabric. Gen Z might actually be the generation that we see more people dressing for themselves. We’re seeing more painted nails, jewelry, and dresses/skirts on boys, while some girls are opting to shop in the men’s section. Harry’s Vogue cover has re-ignited the conversation about masculinity, and what makes a man. It’s challenging outdated, and toxic standards. As previously mentioned in this article, Harry Styles is not the first to challenge this norm, and he won’t be the last. But he, and his Vogue cover are a piece of the puzzle in making a more accepting, more expressive, fluid future.