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Fashion Androgyny


Text by Zhao Yue Photographs by Mai Tian

Lady or Gentleman?

On October 30, during the most packed show of China Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2011, designer Qi Gang appeared on the runway in gorgeous women’s wear. Surrounded by his models, he waved at his curtain call with pride. While handsome male models donned floral dresses, the females applied black lipstick. Qi’s collection, titled “Misplaced Love,” tweaks runway gender roles. The controversial topic inspired thunderous applause and triggered heated debates in the days following.

Born in 1974, Qi majored in costume design at university in Hangzhou, and graduated in 1998. The talented young man quickly became one of the best-known designers in China. “Misplaced Love” is sated with his personal style, and gorgeous as always. The first half featured primarily haute couture. An accompanying dance elaborated his theme, depicting a love story between three people, whose genders all remained ambiguous. “They are all too beautiful, so no one can make a final decision,” Qi explains. He likes the idea that pure beauty itself can be the source of the confusion. 

On the same day on the same runway, Taiwan designer Gioia Pan presented her own show. Known as the Queen of Knitwear, Pan continued the androgynous themes with her show titled “Chaos.” She applied simple colors such as black, grey, and deep blue on both men’s and women’s wear, making almost no distinction between clothes for opposite sexes. The sharp contrast, along with startling similarities between Qi and Pan’s respective shows, embodied exactly what organizers were hoping to present for audiences.

Ambiguous Gender or Sticking to the Same?

At recent shows during Milan, Paris, and New York fashion weeks, audiences have seen increasingly feminine males and more masculine female models. The once dramatic line between genders is growing vaguer. The same thing happened at Beijing and Shanghai fashion weeks, making the phenomenon something even the most mainstream designers must consider.

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