By Chanel Shum
Louis Vuitton proclaims 17-year-old Jaden Smith as “the ...hero of a new generation that worships stylistic freedom.” In fact, that’s exactly why Smith was just announced as the face of its spring/summer 2016 women’s campaign.
Calling Smith a “hero” is an overstatement, but credit should go where credit is due. A male modeling womenswear--not as a prop to female models, nor as a man in transition--is unprecedented and revolutionary in high fashion.
Although the purpose of the campaign’s promotional video is to showcase the collection’s metallic studded purses and vibrantly printed dresses, the riveting models flaunting these outfits steal the show. Smith, clad in a black leather skirt and flowing fringe top, commands attention for more than just shock value. Once the novelty of seeing a male in a skirt fades, it’s apparent that the skirt drapes over his tall, wiry frame in a flattering manner.
Louis Vuitton’s Artistic Director Nicolas Ghesquière chose Smith because “wearing a skirt comes as naturally to [him] as it would to a woman who, long ago, granted herself permission to wear a man’s trench or a tuxedo,” according tolouisvuitton.com.
As a brand whose target demographic is older and often more conservative, Louis Vuitton took an enormous risk by launching this campaign. It’s paid off: The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with many rightfully lauding Smith for defying gender roles.
It’s possible that Smith’s role was just a clever marketing ploy done for sensationalism. But regardless of the intent behind this campaign, it not only sparked dialogue but could also have a lasting impact on how we perceive the need to strictly adhere to the gendering of clothing. Because honestly, clothes are just clothes.
Whether society has aligned them with one’s gender is arbitrary and not worth dwelling on. Smith’s outfit is restoring fashion to what it should be: a reflection of yourself rather than an assertion of one’s gender.
If 2016 is to be the year of challenging societal norms and championing a “you do you” attitude, it is off to a promising start.