In 2012 Kanye West (The most deplorable narcissist to ever walk the earth), rocked a glamorous pair of the Rollerball Loafers by Christian Louboutin. Those were a rock-star inspired pair of slip-on with sliver toned studs embedded all over. While, Kanye rocked the pair, and everyone applauded him. He managed to reignite a public discourse; a discourse over gender binary, the social constructs of masculinity and hyper-masculinity.
I was oblivious to the conversation until it knocked the door to my house down when I decided that I would wear the same pair to my graduation (cause I am a fly bitch. Duh). Some of the reactions I received were, for instance; my sister gasped and went “Tch. Tch. Tch.” at me. My mother, despite all her uninformed feminism and her status as a matriarch, expressed her vehement disapproval and distaste at my choice.
The length and breadth of John Varvatos’s prolific career has seen him cleverly introduce elements of subcultural designs into the mainstream. His major influences include punk and rock.
The genres themselves in their nascent years attempted to radicalise the perception of music. The genres were so successful that it lead to the creation of complex subcultures that persist still. Some of the key elements that represented the philosophies of these subcultures engendered a subversion of regular life elements that were perceived to be strictly feminine.
Varvatos found his success formula to be a mutated subversion of those subverted elements in these subcultures. He wove them intermittently into the fabric of the mainstream society. His interpretation worked seamlessly in the mainstream and yet was affectively evocative of it’s inspirations.
In fact, his latest outpost at boutique the 315 Bowery boutique in the space that formerly housed the underground music club CBGB. Many a great bands were discovered in the legendary club, and many a great bands were amongst the regular performers. A club where men covered in layers of colourful makeup, eyes slathered in paint, and lips smothered under lipstick banging their heads to the thump of music were a convention.
The norm was so omnipresent that to do so was more than acceptable. Somehow their super aggressive attitudes and penchant for violence had earned them a right to subvert the feminity of soft-toned make-up worn by a significant portion of the female population. They wore it in much darker tones with dialled-up contrasts and strutted about in rebellion, in protest. They stood out like peacocks and threw a punch at the slightest mention of their supposed feminine habit of wearing make-up.
How did the whole situation get so convoluted? Since when men decided to ditch their eyeliners, and the society concluded that makeup or the right to be a shameless self-indulgent peacock was exclusively reserved for women alone? Especially in South-Asian culture, more specifically, in my Indian culture the expectation for men has been reduced to “look good, but not too good.” What the fuck is up with that?
For as far as the Indian history stretches and mythology can be read and understood; men were in a very regular habit of bedecking themselves in luxurious jewels. Didn’t Parisians invent half of history’s worth of menswear fashion trends? Fabergé anyone?
Warriors wore eye make up in several forms under their helmets and armours as either an intimidation tactic or to enhance their appearance to charm the ladies. Throughout history, men have reserved the right to bedeck themselves and strut about like a damn peacock.
So if I choose to put on chrome studded patent leather Louboutins to my big graduation ceremony I’ll be damned if a hypocritical society that is being manipulated by the capitalist forces into a monopoly of a certain number of groups over make-up tell me that I can’t. Thank you very much.