These are the London Fashion Week designers shaping the way we see gender

By Hannah Moore
Newsbeat reporter at London Fashion Week

Published
image copyrightAP

London Fashion Week has traditionally only been aimed at women, but seven of the major catwalk shows this season have mixed in menswear.

Added to that, we've seen men modelling women's wear, unisex clothing brands and androgynous designs that would work on anyone.

It seems like British fashion is going through a gender revolution at the moment.

Newsbeat meets the designers leading the way.

The pioneers

J. W. Anderson

Irish-born designer Jonathan Anderson started his J. W. Anderson brand as menswear in 2008, before launching his first women's collection two years later.

image copyrightAFP/Getty Images

He designs with the idea that men can borrow clothes from women and vice versa.

"It's something that we play with each season, this idea," he tells Newsbeat backstage at his London Fashion Week show.

"We'll do a mac on a guy and a mac on a woman. They are the same thing, but on a man and a woman they can mean different things."

image copyrightGetty Images
image copyrightEamonn M. McCormack
image captionJ. W. Anderson used androgynous looks in both his men's and women's collections
image copyrightJ W Anderson
image copyrightJ W Anderson

Anderson is seen by many in the fashion world as a pioneer for taking this unisex approach years ago.

Although he now presents his women's and menswear collections separately, he says he doesn't want to dictate who should wear what.

"I can give you an idea of how I see it on both a man and a woman, but I'm not going to tell you if it's for a man or a woman."

Nicola Formichetti

The artistic director of Diesel, and founder of the unisex range Nicopanda, Nicola Formichetti was also Lady Gaga's stylist for three years (yes, he was responsible for the meat dress).

"Fashion has always been about mixing gender, but now it's becoming such an issue," he tells Newsbeat.

image copyrightReuters

"Now there are products like jeans and hoodies and military jackets that are becoming very very unisex."

He thinks designers have a "duty" to create clothes that every gender can feel comfortable in.

"We have a voice and we need to use it."

The traditionalist making changes

Julien Macdonald

Julien Macdonald's sequin-studded ball gowns are a favourite with some of the world's most glamorous women, including Beyonce and Gigi Hadid.

image copyrightGetty Images

So it surprised some in the fashion world when he launched a menswear collection in 2015.

And at this London Fashion Week, male models walked alongside women in tight-fitting sequin jackets and lycra bodysuits - looks that would traditionally be considered very feminine.

He says men are becoming more comfortable experimenting with the way they dress.

image copyrightAP
image captionJulien Macdonald escorts Canadian model Winnie Harlow down the catwalk

"We live in a metrosexual community," he tells Newsbeat.

"When you see your girlfriend going out in an amazing dress, you think, 'I want to look just as good as you,' so men do want to have fun.

image copyrightJulien Macdonald
image captionJulien Macdonald featured men and women together on his catwalk
image copyrightJulien Macdonald

"Nobody cares if you look camp or gay - you know what? Now everybody's got a mixed community of friends. It doesn't matter."

The new generation

Robert Sanders and Oliver Thame

Robert and Oliver are both menswear designers who presented their debut collections as part of the Central Saint Martins MA show at London Fashion Week.

Robert Sanders, 25, uses layers of recycled fabric to create tunics, skirts and shorts that drape over the models in an androgynous way.

"I grew up dressing up in my mum's clothes, and getting negative feedback off people," he tells Newsbeat.

image copyrightBBC News
image captionNewsbeat chatted to Robert backstage
image copyrightJohn Phillips
image captionRobert Sanders' collection featured skirts
image copyrightJohn Phillips
image captionA look from Robert Sanders's collection

Oliver Thame's collection featured bold clashing prints, and tops with cut outs that revealed the torsos of his male models.

"I presented it on men, but I feel like it could've been just as well presented on women," says the 25-year-old.

image copyrightBBC News
image captionOliver Thame backstage

"I think in this day and age, is there really such a thing as gender specific fashion?"

image copyrightJohn Phillips
image captionOliver Thame used draped fabrics and cut outs

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