Karl Lagerfeld successfully merged and hinted at the idea of an ambivalent sexuality in fashion, playing with a woman's silhouette and mixing the semisweet masculine tailoring in simplistic jackets over frou frou skirts for Chanel Couture. The epitome of the look embodied in a tightly tailored cropped jacket, highly starched collar and thin bow tie in black and white over a cascade of sparkling jet beaded fringe from the waist on down.

Just as Sex and the City revealed and explored female sexuality without apologies for its vulgarity or obscenity, women are continuously bringing their sense of power in sex into the open forum. Pop culture has accepted Britney Spears shedding her pleated skirts and pigtails for sexually provocative striptease numbers and the increased frequency of pornographic images in fashion advertising, usually relegated to the adult video and magazine racks. Women have resolved to embraced their inner masculinity - the strength, power, arrogance, hardness and tough as nails aesthetic, attitude, generally associated in the masculine gender.


The designers who increasingly inspire us and challenge our accepted images of sex, sexuality, and the definition of femininity - Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld, Miuccia Prada and John Galliano among them - know that today, a modern definition of sexiness is emerging.
  The new feminine sex is ambivalent sexy.


It is a look that can be called eccentric and eclectic in its juxtaposition of themes that wouldn't normally be placed together. Whether vintage and futuristic, formal and informal, denim and a tux, these ideas carry with them another weight today. Gay marriages are part of our daily conversations as society considers how far it will choose to go in its continued celebration and exploration of cultural differences. The final questions and challenges emerge in our willingness to embrace, show off and challenge sexuality accepting the aesthetics and values of people with homosexual orientations.
  As women take on traditionally masculine attitudes, gender bending becomes increasingly more interesting and stylish. Where there once was a demand for Brazil's bodacious Gisele, there is now the innocent boy-girl charm of models like Natalia, who opened Jean Paul Gaultier's Fall show for 2003 as a pretty baby complete with ruffled knickers and mittens and closed it as a tacky vamp all high heels smokey eyes and skintight leather skirt - and Hannelore has the sensual and brash man/woman sex appeal used to sell and display the new sensibility and aesthetic in fashion. Ignoring the obvious fashion trends that editors and designers use to sum up the themes of each collection, the modern sexy woman is found within a new definition of style and contradiction. She isn't scary and masculine, not feminist. She can wear or do without lipstick and wears chiffon in new and interesting ways, challenging mass preconceived notions and breaking down the resistance of her semi-prudish counterparts. Most of all, the today's woman embodies an innovative and confident sex-appeal. She increasingly neither alienates, frightens or threatens the traditional male-female population, but embodies the best of it in new ways.

Perry Ellis Fall 2004 Show
New York_______________________

Patrick Robinson's Fall 2004 collection for Perry Ellis was a perfect example of this sexually ambivalent girl. Models done up in Fonze style updos in an almost Greaser feel without the grease, wore pretty, eccentric and somewhat masculine looks. Robinson used nostalgic silhouettes, matching cardis, slim skirts, fabrics and details like tweed and jeweled buttons, with mannish trouser suits that were casual and worn in as if dug out of Daddy's closet. Take a leopard print jacket cropped just above the hips, "Pink Lady" style stilettos, skinny capri pants and top it off with a black leather cap or try the captivating plush fur vest, a starched business shirt untucked over a pencil skirt and finished with powder blue pumps.


next