The New Normal: Dissecting the Male Ideal

TEXT: Alexander Sauve 

Similar to the female standards of beauty, the male ideal is nearly impossible to achieve and maintain. It’s a standard that continually evolves and is driven by the media and entertainment industry. With Pride month well underway, Novella takes a look at the emerging new standards of male beauty and we find that one size does not necessarily fit all.

1960s: Liberated and Outrageously Sexy

The 1960s was a decade of significant cultural and political upheaval. Before the gay liberation movement, it was absolutely imperative to “pass” as heterosexual. After the Stonewall Riots of 1969, coming out became an act of defiance against the anti-gay establishment. Men in greater numbers would break free from the traditional clean-shaven, perfectly quaffed and overly conservative mold of the ’50s. By the early 1970s, gay men found inspiration in uber-masculine male stereotypes — the lumberjack, the cowboy, the biker, and the construction worker would become the epitome of the masculine ideal.

1970s: A decade of Decadence

In the era of Studio 54 and Bowie and Warhol, a period of decadence and self-expression rolled in. Although the uber-masculine ideal was in full swing, many gay men would begin to defy old-school gender binaries by experimenting with makeup, tight clothes, and longer hairstyles. The look was androgynous, young, and free-spirited. The underground Drag Ball culture of New York was gaining popularity and would eventually become synonymous with the worldwide LGBT community.

1980s: The Athletic Ideal

As the fitness models exercised, sweated, and posed in various states of undress in Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 smash hit Physical, the athletic male ideal was born. Men were muscular, athletic, and tanned to a leathery golden crust. Essentially the “All-American Look” of the 1980s fitness craze would have a tremendous influence on male beauty, fashion, and grooming ideals. A body that is fit, healthy, and lean remains the most sought after body type for both men and women alike.

1990s: The Era of the Supermodel

Arguably the last generation of the true supermodel-models Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, and Kate Moss was the envy of every young woman and gay man in the 1990s. But a crop of top male models — Marcus Schenkenberg, Mark Vanderloo, and Tyson Beckford — would set the standard of male beauty in the era of perfection. With their chiseled features and tall and well-defined physiques, these guys were the new epitome of the masculine ideal.

Early 2000’s: The Metrosexual Man

By the early 2000s, we saw an increase of confident and stylish men taking greater pride in their appearance. In this era, men enjoyed high-quality grooming products, designer threads, and perfectly styled hair. The metrosexual is usually found in urban jungles where grooming and shopping is easy. Most often heterosexual, these stylish and well-groomed men put some of their gay counterparts to shame.

2010: The Casual Hipster

In many ways, the hipster would set a new standard for male grooming and style. From full and thick beards to plaid shirts and oversized frames, their casual and uber-sexy style is one of the most sought after styles for millennials. Noted to be somewhat overly trendy, the hipster loves all things organic, distinctive, and individual. Unfortunately, the individuality thing only goes so far, since the term ‘hipster’ goes as far back as the 1940s and saw an reemergence with a different meaning in the 1990s.

Today: The Bearded Beauty

Today it’s all about lumberjack. The new male archetype is bearded, uber-masculine, and is good with an axe (probably not really though). An ode to the lumbersexual and anti-establishment of the 1960s and 70s, beards give a rugged and enigmatic appearance to even the prettiest of male faces. Think Ryan Reynolds in The Amityville Horror (2005), without the crazy.

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Seoul Fashion Week Fall 2017: The Highlights

Seoul is one of the best-kept fashion gems in the world. Like Japan and Sao Paulo, Seoul keeps itself pristine and pure. It rarely wanders into the realm of knock off fashion trends. And if it does resemble something we’ve seen on the runway before, chances are that the trend may have just originated there and not come in after the fact. The beauty of Korean fashion comes from its authenticity. Nothing really seems forced and that’s a horribly difficult thing to come by in today’s fashion industry. This season came with some of the freshest collections to date. The authenticity is there, the style is there, and that’s what makes Seoul Fashion Week such a joy to review — Here are its biggest stunners for fall.

Miss Gee Collection

Photo: Seoul Design Foundation

Have you ever wondered what Blair Waldorf would have looked like if she would have gone back to her old stomping grounds and became dean of Constance? Well here is your chance. At Miss Gee Collection, a clear private school influence was seen. With streamlined pantsuits accented with coloured trims and mock school crests and emblems. This collection screams Upper East Side private school couture, which, for one, I am in love with. There’s something so functional yet whimsical about collections that are based on school uniforms. It paints a story for you. You can almost see the Ivy covered walls of an elite private school neatly tucked away behind a set of giant elms and wrought iron fence when you see this collection.

Beyond Closet

Photo: Seoul Design Foundation

Now you can’t have ladies varsity style without throwing some men’s looks as well. For this season’s Beyond Closet show, models were sent out in outfits that would definitely put your local private school bad boy to shame. The great thing about this collection is that it refrains from solely showing uniform clothing; instead, a great mix of streetwear is woven in and out of the collection, giving the show a very relaxed and New York feel which works with the fashion industries’ current love for athleisure streetwear.

Kiok

Photo: Seoul Design Foundation

Berets have been everywhere this season from Paris to New York, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that the world is following suit. At Kiok, berets, Parisian flare, and strong deconstruction are all tied together in a neat little package. Many of the denim looks are outstanding and very relevant to today’s fashion trends. However, the best looks came in the form of polka dot print dresses, blouses, and blazers. The polka dots give the collection a comedic freshness that is sadly avoided in the fashion industry. Another really interesting thing about the collection is how well it’s styled. The layering between outerwear, formalwear, and sportswear perfectly mirrors what’s going on in the fashion world today.

J Koo

Photo: Seoul Design Foundation

Formalwear and evening wear are some of the most difficult pieces to design because they usually follow certain guidelines. For example, you can design a tuxedo made out of jersey, but it still wouldn’t be considered formalwear. At J Koo, the notion of formalwear and evening wear is revisited and reworked with knits and trenches. Giving the collection a very soft and casual feel without actually taking away from its elegance. Chiffon is sprinkled throughout and mossy greens break up the neutrals seen throughout the collection, allowing the evening wear to go beyond the realm of black, white, and jewel tones.

Kumann Yoo Hye Jin

Photo: Seoul Design Foundation

Herringbone is one of the greatest patterns ever invented. It’s fun, it’s bright, it’s eye-catching, and it’s elegant in its own right. So it came as no surprise when it showed up on the runway at Kumann Yoo Hye Jin. The beautiful citrine stone green pairs beautifully with the soft wool texture of the outerwear in the collection. However, herringbone isn’t the only pattern available in the collection. A great majority of the show’s outerwear is presented in sumptuous plaid wools that hark back to a more retro idea of outerwear. Denim and velvet also made spectacular appearances in the form of separates and dresses, which helped break up the various plaids and neutral tones throughout the show. Giving its would-be shoppers a wide variety of choices to mix and match with, which is a plus in anyone’s books.

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The Best of PFW Street Style

In terms of style, there are few things more iconic or elusive than the “French woman.” It has always served as the pinnacle of effortless chic. Despite certain well-known tricks of the trade (i.e. lots of black, tailored jackets, simplicity), it has always been difficult for those of us not French to emulate.

But for Paris Fashion Week, the focus is not actually on Parisian style per say. It’s about the individual, about the movers and shakers who come for the shows and linger long after in the blogosphere consciousness. For the Fall/Winter 2017 collections, we saw a parade of styles and creativity. We saw bright colours, graphic patterns, mixed textures, and, as always, the casual air of someone who is rocking their look and completely knows it. That, more than anything, might be the biggest secret of effortless style.

Here are some of our favourite trends from PFW street style.

Floral Accents

I, unfortunately, hear Meryl Streep’s voice saying, “Florals for spring? Groundbreaking,” every time I consider wearing florals this time of year. The truth of the matter is, I do like wearing florals, and they do appear in the spring more often than any other time of year. The floral accents we saw at Paris were mainly outerwear details, as show-goers were still fighting the cold while welcoming the change in season. These gorgeous floral prints definitely stood out during the gray days in Paris.

Photo By Jonathan Daniel Pryce via British Vogue
Photo By Sandra Semburg via Vogue Paris
Photo By Diego Zuko via Harper’s Bazaar
Photo by Tyler Joe via Elle

Denim on Denim

The Canadian Tuxedo trend has officially taken over, and I’m ambivalent about it. Mostly because I associate it so much with my parents’ friends in the 90’s, but here we are seeing it go international. I’ll allow it, mainly because it has brought out some crazy good streetwear looks both back here in Canada and worldwide.

Photo By Sandra Semburg via Vogue Paris
Photo by Sandra Semburg via Vogue Paris
Photo by Imaxtree via The Fashion Spot
Photo by Diego Zuko via Harper’s Bazaar

Shoe Gaze

Colourful, statement shoes were one of the main accessories seen in Paris, from the new Balenciaga heels to the mismatched Celine booties. Shoes are the perfect way to make any outfit a little bit more, to add some extra drama. The photographers’ gazes dipped a little bit lower on the Paris streets to catch some of these wickedly cool kicks.

Photo by Diego Zuko via Harper’s Bazaar
Photo by Diego Zuko for Harper’s Bazaar
Photo by Sandra Semburg for Vogue Paris
Photo by Tyler Joe via Elle

Vinyl Tap

Standard leather fare needs to take a breather because high-shine vinyl has arrived. Not to say it wasn’t here before, but it’s definitely here now in a big way. It was seen on the streets in pants and jacket forms. This would seemingly be a difficult trend to style on the regular, but the folks at Fashion Week have shown that it’s actually pretty easy to wear and easy to pair.

Photo by Diego Zuko via Harper’s Bazaar
Photo by Brock Cardiner via High Snobriety
Photo by The Stylograph via Who What Wear
Photo by Diego Zuko via Harper’s Bazaar

Statement Shades

When the sun finally came out in Paris, the best accessory to whip out was a killer pair of sunnies, and the show-goers certainly delivered. Glasses are an accessory, like a great watch or a pair of earrings, that can tie a look together. It’s that finishing touch, that metaphorical cherry on top that takes an outfit to another level.

Photo by Sandra Semburg via Vogue Paris
Photo by Sandra Semburg via Vogue Paris
Photo by Sandra Semburg via Vogue Paris
Photo by Diego Zuko via Harper’s Bazaar

The New Monochrome

Traditionally, I considered monochrome to be when one dresses entirely in black or white. And while that is true based by definition, for the past few years, street style has given us a new way to think about monochrome. It’s wearing only one shade or colour, but picking any shade or colour you want — it can be blue, red, green or yellow, but that colour takes over the look. And the effect is striking.

Photo by The Stylograph via Who What Wear
Photo by Tyler Joe via Elle
Photo by Imaxtree via The Fashion Spot
Photo by Sandra Semburg via Vogue Paris

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New York Fashion Week Men’s Recap: Fall/Winter 2017

If you didn’t find time to make it to New York Fashion Week this year, have no fear. We have compiled a list of a few noteworthy designers and their contributions to this year’s runway. If you are looking for style inspiration, you have come to the right place. Let us guide you by displaying some of our favourite menswear looks that are fresh off the runway.

Raf Simons

Photo Credit: Gerardo Somoza / Indigital.tv

We couldn’t mention our favourite Fall/Winter 2017 collections without first discussing Raf Simons. Perhaps the most anticipated show of the season, Raf Simon’s debut at New York Fashion Week was incredible. Championing the title of Chief Creative Officer at Calvin Klein in August, Raf has certainly been busy. The collection devotes itself to New York City, with bold titles of “NY” carefully placed on knit sweaters. A highlight from the collection is noted in the accessorizing of the models. Oversize beaded necklaces hung off each model and displayed messages such as “I LOVE YOU” and “WALK WITH ME.” This collection presented a youthful exuberance inspired by those native to New York City, while making it accessible to all.

John Elliot

John Elliot’s Fall/Winter 2017 menswear collection presented itself as a sportswear brand that doubles as a streetwear brand. This season, the runway was recreated to look like a basketball court and engaged the cultural exchange taking place within the world of sports. John Elliot incorporated satin and silk materials onto metallic bomber jackets and reinvented the classic leather jacket by adding an array of colours. While not only including incredible texture into this line, John Elliot integrated hues of blue, green, and silver together, creating a colour palette that won’t go unnoticed.

 

Ovadia & Sons

Photo Credit: Gerardo Somoza / Indigital.tv

Ovadia & Sons brought military inspired wear to this year’s runway with camo prints and army greens. The collection, created by twin brothers Shimon and Ariel Ovadia, features a personal history inspired by their father — a professional soccer player who was conscripted into the army. The collection recounts his time spent in the Israeli army and creates a visual canvas of his past as a soccer player. Much of the line fits into the athlesiure wear trend that is very popular in today’s menswear. As both designers were born in Jerusalem, they took inspiration from their roots while presenting their personal history onto their clothing, by adding Hebrew lettering to soccer jerseys. Ovadia & Sons let us into their world by sharing their intimate details, and allowing individuals everywhere to partake in their history.  

Orley

Orley has masterfully integrated neutral tones onto knit workwear. The collection trademarks a preppy aesthetic, while at the same time drawing inspiration from singer-songwriter Nick Drake. The collection creates a nostalgic kinship for the seventies, and features corduroy as one of its main textures. Orley offers a collection that is polished and perfectly tailored to the individual. Since the brand’s debut in 2012, Orley has achieved a great deal of success. This season, Orley continues to make a name for itself while offering a clean collection that is carefully crafted. The line exudes vintage tones through its’ presentation of wool sweaters and cashmere suits.

Uri Minkoff

Uri Minkoff crafted a collection inspired for the metropolitan man and his daily commute. The line includes tailored clothing that is carefully designed for men on-the-g0. For example, Uri Minkoff included buttons on the ankles of pants to ensure that chain grease from bicycles doesn’t soil the garment. The runway was recreated after a New York City crosswalk and appeals to bike messengers and businessmen everywhere. Uri Minkoff  includes weatherproof jackets with fashion forward designs. Accessories were also a stand-out of this collection, through cross-body bags, to smaller-type luggage. The collection is timeless as it is effortlessly trendy, while practical.

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Treat Yourself Real in 2017

A couple of years ago, I used to close my eyes and imagine colourful videos. That was my reflection on the brightest moments of my life. Sadly, I notice that it’s getting harder and harder to do the same now. While images keep changing, I see less and less continuous scenes. Life becomes more of a picture rather than a video. A picture in a museum, a picture on the beach, a picture in a new cafe… We are trying to be everywhere and experience everything. But very often, instead of experiencing we get just another picture on Instagram.

That’s why my biggest New Year’s resolution is to capture everything I do, wear, and experience in my heart. Here are some tips on how to treat yourself REAL in 2017.

Musician Oddane Taylor. Photo by Sveta Soloveva

Go for Music

You already know how to make Spotify and Soundcloud create a playlist that satisfies your musical tastes. However, you can make your musical experience even more entertaining by actually going to events. The fact that the Greater Toronto Area is a home to many talented producers, singers, and DJs makes your musical discovery not only exciting but also affordable. You don’t always need to spend hundreds of dollars on a ticket to see someone at the Air Canada Centre. A lot of musicians prefer to hit nightclubs. For example, a Brampton-based rapper Roy Woods has recently performed in Mod Club, while Tory Lanez (from Brampton as well) threw a dancehall party in Rebel. A $25-50 ticket for those shows buys you a party and adds many favourite songs to your playlist. The songs that you will have personal connections to.

Bonus: Check Red Bull Sound Select for more inspiration. Last fall, I explored Mick Jenkins and Smino, two cool hip hop artists on one of the Red Bull concerts.

Sousse, Tunisia

Make your travel destination your dream motherland

Instead of hitting multiple places, explore one place in depth. Saying you’ve been all over the world sounds cool, but saying it doesn’t make it real! Your trip doesn’t deserve a quick glance from bus windows or an impressive post on Facebook or Instagram.

Build a relationship with a place. Make a playlist of its music and listen to it on the plane. Meet the locals and go to their parties. Dance with them and listen to them talk. That will tell you a lot about the country.

Ask your new friends (not your tour guide) about the best places to eat, go for a picnic, and party. Keep your head up, don’t let the camera on your neck restrain you from looking around. Pick one or two days for a proper photoshoot, and forget about pictures for the rest of your trip. Breathe, take your time to stop and live in a moment. That’s what will make your travel experience unforgettable.

Last summer I made friends with Tunisian animators during my stay at a hotel in Sousse. I helped them host mini-disco for kids and entertain people on the beach. That experience made me closer to Tunisian culture and added many funny moments to my vacation.

Bonus: Explore the world through volunteering and educational programs. They will help you bring a positive change to the communities and make new friends. Volunteer Forever has recently posted 2017 Best Volunteer Abroad Programs, Organizations, & Projects.

Photo by Olga Rodionova

Build Your Dream Wardrobe

This year make your style iconic by purchasing only high-quality clothes and clothes that will tell a unique story about you. Don’t buy items because they are on sale or because you just need another sweater. Choose something you really love. Most of the time, it will be pricier, I agree. But with hundreds of fast fashion items in your wardrobe, you still complain about having nothing to wear — it’s worth a try.

I noticed that clothes that I usually buy in malls lose their attraction after a couple of weeks. But items such as overalls from Smoke + Ash or a Mischa Lampert fur-pom-pom beanie that I bought years ago, still give me confidence and a sense of beauty.

Items that I got when traveling to other countries make me feel special too. One of a kind leather gloves with orange ruffles that I bought in Venice seven years ago still get many compliments as well as a cheap scarf that I bought in Turkey.

Make your skin your sunshine

It’s fun to smell and try different skin products. But honestly ask yourself: Do you really need all those day and night creams, toners, and serums? Loading your face up with products or using many of them at the same time might cause irritations and breakouts.

Clean your beauty shelf out of everything that didn’t work for you last year and leave or add only those products that make your skin perfect.

If you still haven’t found your ideal skincare, you might want to check Mèreadesso, a new line that Novella reviewed last month.

The creator Linda Stephenson proposes a simple combination of products such as moisturizer, cleanser, and body balm that will replenish all the needs of your skin.

Bonus: DIY beauty hack recipes for fans of natural treats.

Photo: Tullahoma News

Don’t take your phone to the gym

Get better results from your workout by simply leaving your phone in a locker. My personal trainer in Russia always asked me if I was thinking about something else while exercising. He urged me to turn off my brain for half an hour and think only about the areas of my body I was working on. Exercises such as sculpting and stretching need your full attention. Checking your phone and messaging interrupts you from the process and extends your breaks between exercises, which can ruin the entire workout. If you already follow this phone etiquette, try to improve your results by shortening your breaks between exercises.

Photo: Food & Wine Magazine

Go on a food trip in your kitchen

Tired of your standard dinner recipes? Broaden your culinary horizons and take your family on a food trip! Ask your Italian friend about an authentic pasta recipe or get an Irish family to give you the secret for the best Shepherd’s Pie. You can also search for the recipes on the Internet. Write them on pieces of paper and throw them in a bowl. This is your new culinary globe! Each time you aren’t sure what to cook for dinner and thinking about ordering in a pizza, slip your hand into the bowl and cook whatever you get. Moroccan chicken tonight? Hawaiian poke bowl tomorrow? All countries come to your kitchen in homemade goodness.

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