“You can’t just arrogantly wear whatever the fuck you want to wear on some ‘self-expression’ bullshit,” rapper Lord Jamar said on VladTV about rappers wearing women’s clothing. “Because in order to preserve a culture there are certain guidelines and boundaries that have to be there.”
At New York Summer/Spring Fashion Week earlier this month, Rodarte and Marc Jacobs both showed collections filled with ethereal, grandiose gowns that gave off serious Marie Antoinette vibes. Streetwear is on its deathbed or at least nearing it; it has been so overly appropriated by luxury brands that it no longer feels genuine but like everyone is chasing after the cash cow. Marc Jacobs’ and Rodarte’s collections detailed a want to move away from the expected and mainstream and return to highfalutin luxury. Calvin Klein, Pyer Moss, and Area all also included lavish gowns although not designed to the otherworldly extent that Jacobs and the Mulleavys did. These commonalities signal a step away from the banalities of streetwear, but will culture follow?
There is a long and fruitful history of musicians crossing gender boundaries, but it isn’t until more recently that rap has begun challenging dressing norms. Prince, David Bowie, and Freddie Mercury all made a lot of noise with their non-conforming styles, but they are all from the past. Currently, rap is the mainstream sound and its history with homophobia and ultra-masculinity makes it and hyper-femininity appear to be disharmonious, but that isn’t actually the case! With rappers like Jaden Smith, A$ap Rocky, Lil Uzi, and Young Thug (to name a few) blurring gender lines through fashion, genderbending is becoming more conventional.
One of the most iconic moments in this path was the dropping of Young Thug’s No, My Name is Jeffery. On the cover of his album, he wears an intricate, classical gown that looks out of a Rococo painting. It blasted across the internet with both supporters and hate (both of which imply immediate success). When asked about his decision to wear women’s clothes, Young Thug said, “It don’t matter. You could be a gangster with a dress, you could be a gangster with baggy pants. I feel like there’s no such thing as gender.”
Kid Cudi, Kanye, and Andre 3000 have all also played across gender lines with skirts and kilts to much criticism. The old school hate of rappers wearing traditionally feminine garments only bolsters the fact that it will grow. Both the runway and popular music are turning to more feminine looks. For designers, the movement is just a fashion choice, but for rappers, the donning of traditional feminine garb signals a more impactful change and dissemination of gender norms.
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Rappers are Wearing Dress! ; Images Credits: @youngthug , @calvinklein , @rodarte and @louisvuitton on Instagram; Huffington Post