Two fashion bloggers stood side by side at the Stampd presentation during the second day of New York Fashion Week: Men's. Each wore a crisply tailored suit with white sneakers that appeared to have been spared an encounter with the street.
Meet Danielle Cooper, 31, a former professional basketball player from California who runs the blog She's A Gent, and Sara Geffrard, 24, a former dancer from Haiti and the woman behind A Dapper Chick.
“When I wear a suit, I feel like I can do things I would not otherwise do,” Ms. Geffrard said. “I’m a very, very shy person, but if I’m in a suit, I feel very confident. I feel like I can talk to whoever. Otherwise I would walk in and feel sort of small.”
Ms. Cooper said: “We’re in an era when men and women wear everything. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight. For us, it’s really about showing young women that they can wear whatever they want.”
Their approach to fashion makes perfect sense in a time when the actor-musician Jaden Smith wears skirts, the rapper Young Thug delcares that there’s no such thing as gender, and Teen Vogue's advice column offers tips for figuring out your gender identity. Bill Cunningham of The New York Times captured the women with his lens in February and called their style of dress “absolutely superb.”
At the Stampd presentation last week, Ms. Cooper and Ms. Geffrard wound their way through the crowd, sharing observations about the clothes. Pointing out a pair of olive-green shorts, Ms. Geffrard said they reminded her of the loose cut popular in the ’90s. “But he moved the pockets to the front to make the look more modern,” she said of Chris Stamp’s design.
Ms. Cooper added that they reminded her of the clothing worn by members of the military (her father having been one of them). “He’s taking that old-school aspect and making it for the new generation, elevating the cargo pocket,” she said.
The women continued bouncing ideas off each other as they considered which pieces were their favorites. Ms. Cooper punctuated certain moments of shared clarity with a smile and an exclamation, “Get out of my head!”
Ms. Cooper and Ms. Geffrard met more than a year ago at a store opening. “We were both shy,” Ms. Geffrard said. “I saw her and she saw me, and eventually we said something to each other.” The two bonded over an experience they had being cyberbullied by another blogger, whom they refused to name, and their love of men’s wear.
Ms. Cooper and Ms. Geffrard, who attended more than a dozen shows at New York Fashion Week: Men’s, often speak about empowering their gender and representing lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people. Both have teamed up with Nike for its #BeTrue campaign, which raised money for a nonprofit that works to end discrimination in sports. Ms. Geffrard founded the Dapper Chicks of New York, which strives to raise awareness of issues like bullying and women’s equality, and Ms. Cooper has worked with the Human Rights Campaign.
During the men’s shows, a few protesters demonstrated outside Skylight Clarkson Sq in Lower Manhattan, wearing T-shirts with “Don’t Shoot” and “Walter Scott” written on them. “There are so many major brands and corporations here right now,” Ms. Geffrard said. “This was a needed move. Maybe some people weren’t paying attention and weren’t being sensitive about what’s going on in the community. They’re here reminding us that black lives matter.”
Ms. Cooper and Ms. Geffrard are athletic and, when they were younger, chose casual men’s-style streetwear that would move easily between the court, the dance studio and home. Why the change to more formal pieces? “I used to wear more of that urban streetwear, and I would get certain looks that I didn’t really like,” Ms. Geffrard said. “I would go into a store and someone would follow me. When I started dressing the way I do now, I didn’t get that anymore.”
For Ms. Cooper, the style she saw in Germany, where she played pro basketball, influenced the way she thought of fashion. So did Scott Disick of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” fame. “I think Scott Disick is the sharpest dresser,” Ms. Cooper said. “When I was transitioning out of typical urbanwear to something more elegant, no other man was wearing a lime green pinstripe suit. I said, ‘One day I want to dress like him.’”
Though historical and fictional examples of women in men’s clothing abound, they are often characterized by the desire to conceal one’s gender for other purposes (think Mulan, Joan of Arc or Amanda Bynes in “She’s the Man”). Ms. Geffrard and Ms. Cooper have no interest in that kind of thing, a desire understood by their tailor, Shao Yang of the Tailory New York.
“These suits are actually women’s wear,” Ms. Geffrard said, adding that Ms. Yang takes care to add feminine touches to the suits by, for example, taking them in slightly more than usual at the waist.
“I don’t want to be a guy,” Ms. Cooper said. “I want to be a woman in men’s wear, like Olivia on ‘Scandal’ or Ellen DeGeneres.”
Fashion journalists can see very well what they’re up to.
“The first thing you think when you look at Danielle and Sara is, ‘This is chic,’ not, ‘Are they a man or a woman? Black or white?’” said Wendell Brown, the creative director at large for The Daily Beast.
David Yi, a fashion reporter at Mashable, said, “There is a movement toward clothes not being segregated by gender but rather by color or size or shape.”
At the Carlos Campos runway show, which included female models among the men, Ms. Cooper smiled from her place among the standees. “He didn’t change the construction that much to make it for women,” she whispered. A certain piece worn by a male model caught her eye. “That pullover,” she said, noting an olive-green windbreaker. “I just want to walk out with it.”
Ms. Geffrard and Ms. Cooper said their male fashion compatriots had been welcoming, for the most part. “When we first started, there was this feeling of, ‘Who are these two women?’” Ms. Cooper said. They estimate that about half of their followers on Instagram are men, who often ask for advice. “Women have always been associated with fashion and taste and the fact that we’re women in that space, I think men feel they can trust us,” Ms. Geffrard said.
Yet being a woman in a man’s space can come with difficulties. Before the lights dimmed at the Carlos Campos show, a male guest commented loudly on Ms. Cooper’s look, offering unsolicited thoughts on the quality of the tailoring. He reached over, pushing another female guest aside, and took the liberty of fiddling with her jacket to get a closer look at the fit of her pants.
Without even a slight shift in her expression, Ms. Cooper said, “It’s all part of the job.”
[By: VALERIYA SAFRONOVA] [New York Times] [Read More]