I know it may be a rather obvious statement, but the majority of clothes featured on this blog were designed for women. Unsurprising since most of my most posts feature myself or friends, and besides I’m not much of a tomboy – not being particularly inclined towards the ‘boyfriend’ look (or maybe that’s just down to never having had a boyfriend to steal clothes from!)
However, when it came to styling my friend Krishan for my first male fashion shoot, I was surprised by the amount of masculine clothes my drawers and wardrobe yielded. I came across countless men’s jumpers and shirts, alongside a rather fetching set of vintage scarves that belonged to my granddad. My mum did even better than me; thrusting a dashing tailcoat at me that she’d unearthed from some dark corner of the house.
I had always seen male style as somehow lesser – restricted in terms of creativity and self-expression. Why focus on trousers when one can have pick of the tea-dresses? And yet, what about suave Harris Tweed jackets? (Yes, I tend to employ the kind of terminology used to describe Don Draper when writing about masculine style.) And how about the silk pyjamas and red and yellow silk paisley dressing gown I wear with relish when I want to emulate Boris Lermontov from the Red Shoes? Perhaps I have finally discovered the appeal of clothes belonging to the opposite sex. Menswear gives the chance for deep focus on cut, colours and shape. Attention is drawn in to details. It can be classic, and often refreshingly simple. Savile Row has a reputation for a reason – what could be more satisfying and full of longevity than a bespoke suit? And at the other end of the spectrum, in day-to-day wear I’m positive that men’s jumpers are more comfortable than women’s.
And so, it was both a challenge and a delight to style my friend Krishan for my first attempt at male fashion photography back in autumn. I took my cue from the colours outside, and was pleased when my willing model turned up in a perfect pair of mustard trousers. These were used for every outfit – demonstrating the potential that one item of clothing holds for re-styling. I made a moodboard ahead of his arrival, filling it with studious looking boys reading books in awe-inspiring libraries, and other figures tramping across the grounds of Oxford. I think Jack Kerouac was in there somewhere too. It was hard to find the kind of images I wanted though. Perhaps part of my initial relegating of male style to the ‘slightly boring’ category was a consequence of many of the male editorials I’ve seen. Naturally, this isn’t true of everywhere (the Burberry adverts are of course exempt), and maybe I just need to research the field more.
My theme was “Well-dressed intellectual” – using clothes taken from my usual sources. The jumpers, jackets, scarves and even the fireman’s coat were a mixture of second hand and vintage (or sometimes both). The trousers and converses belonged to Krishan, although I provided the riding boots. My mum kindly drove the chair to a nearby lake, and it looked almost comical as it sat on the jetty. The light was a miracle – the kind of tones that characterise autumn, and that we don’t see enough of. And my favourite condition (intensely bright in the foreground with storm clouds in the background) even made a cursory appearance. Autumn, with its feeling of change, was an appropriate time to explore a new type of style – and who knows, I might even try a blazer and jeans at some point...