The tighter the better.
The sheerer, the sexier.
The lesser, the freer.
And the more sexual innuendos? Seemed like the better.
Growing up as a child of generation Z, I saw fashion as a symbol of liberation from labels. It was an outlet for the creativity of the world to unleash and take on the world by a storm. It was not just mere pieces of clothes that went up and down the runway, but it is a perception of another individual coming to life. We are witnessing the embodiment of beauty in it’s subjective form.
Over the years, what we see on runways, and what we see as fashion has been influenced by many different factors. Several things have been much louder at making their statement on fashion photography and on runway displays. These include displays of eroticism, kinks, fetishes, seduction, and ofcourse, sex.
Reinvention of sex on a runway or the front page of a magazine was not a new thing. Big brand names like tom ford, prada, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci have made some very controversial headlines for their sexual play in fashion. Luxury brands are still continuing to sexify a major part of the fashion world. Some of their advertisements, campaigns and clothes even got banned in several parts of the world, and some are still banned because sex is not always a selling point.
However, sex toys Malaysia is a major selling point in the western world. The western perception of fashion is heavily integrated with their own perceptions of sex and gender. It has become difficult to separate the notions of sex from the world of fashion. But, what the world perceives as sexy or rather obscene might be very different from what the world considers sexy. Just like beauty, sex is subjective. Obscenity is corresponding to the same ideal as well.
The runway is where many brands took to making loud noises and attention with their showcase of nudity and sexual imagery. Perhaps, looking back in time, this was not something that began in the early 2000s or late 90s. The evolution of sex with fashion may have begun since the sexual revolution of 1970s, where the world took sexual liberation to the street and politics. Europeans and Americans were at the front line of the sexual liberation movement. From sex toy museums to erotic art to eroticism on runways, people used every opportunity to voice out their sexual liberation.
Inspite of some noble intentions of sexual liberation, sex and fashion has not always panned out to be good in the world. Especially in the early 70s to 90s. The 1970s were also a time where women were pushing for their voices to be heard. Sexual liberation was used by women as a turning point in the world of feminism. Some say fashion did worsen the position of women in the 70s, but others say it was a work of progress in desexualizing women. Many designers took it to their creative outlets to directly engage with the world by mixing labels and breaking the stereotypes of the so-called “feminine” fashion. On the other hand, many misogynistic designers in fashion also used sex, simply to sell. To objectify women rather than celebrate women in sexy clothes.
Women in the seventies faced a lot of hardship, solely because they were women born in an oppressive period. They lived in times where people collectively experienced coercion from men, consistent objectification, sexual abuse and the martyrdom of the male gaze and lust. So many wonder if runway and fashion shows laced with sex appeals did good or bad for the world of women?
Not only for women, but also for all genders across the world. The hypersexuality supported by the fashion world may never be truly iconic as much as we would like to believe so. It didn’t give the world sexual freedom, or maybe it did. Perhaps the current age of fashion and runways have the answer.
Progression Of Sex And Fashion
After years of thigh high boots, fishnet, ice cream licking on stage, explicit homoeroticism on runways, portrayals of sex symbols, unnerving combinations of pornography and fashion, and fixations on sinisterly sexual undertones in fashion photography, the world has decided to slowly change.
Change, does not mean sex and fashion is departing it’s way. In fact sex is very much in the picture, but the meaning of sexuality in fashion is changing. In today’s fashion design world, bringing sex to the table generally means we are bringing desexualisation of women and putting art on the table.
No, we are not talking about the time when Megan Fox was sexualised to the point she was harassed in the media and the industry. We are also not talking about the age and time when Janet Jackson was shamed for accidentally showing a little nipple during the super bowl 2010. We are talking about how much more recent years are using sex to have a more progressive and inclusive stance in the fashion world.
We are also talking about how fashion labels are revolutionising the industry to actually show the world that sexual freedom is perfectly okay. Instead of focusing on using sex to sell in fashion, designers and brands are making changes to embrace the fact both modesty and sex appeal can be equally empowering.
For example, Fenty showed a clear example of what it is like to include sex appeal in a lingerie show in way that was not demeaning to gender, age and sizes. The 2020 Savage x Fenty lingerie showed the world that mixing fashion with sex does not have to consistently dehumanize women. Versace on the other hand used elements of bondage to make an overwhelming case against the shame and taboo surrounding various sexual kinks. They tastefully made leather and straps look beautiful and seamless.
Sex appeal is powerful enough to make statements and influence decisions in the fashion world. It is used as a platform when we have no voice. And it is used to normalize what we already should be normalizing. More importantly it is used to equally embrace sexualities of all genders instead of “using sex to sell”.