Harry Styles, David Banda, Lil Nas X: The new icons driving stereotypes out of fashion

As gender and fashion conventions change, it's no longer rare to see men wearing a dress or a skirt, towering heels and flawless makeup.

Gender stereotypes are taking a hit. In the fashion industry, as in other sectors, collections and products that are co-ed, unisex, gender-neutral or gender-fluid are multiplying at high speed, challenging all clichés and precepts in the field.

This social phenomenon is being fronted by many celebrities, such as Harry Styles, David Banda and Lil Nas X.

It’s no longer rare — or surprising — to see a man on the red carpet wearing a dress or a skirt, towering heels and flawless makeup. And it’s a phenomenon that’s not just limited to the confines of Hollywood — or the showbiz world more generally — since it has been working its way into the mainstream for several months, if not years.

Slowly, but surely, mentalities and behaviors are evolving, shattering gender stereotypes as they do so.

Pink for girls, blue for boys — in theory, it’s over. And like every change, this one has certain standout voices driving and upholding it. Among them are many celebrities, who are on a mission to free themselves — and their many, many fans — from the burden of norms and stereotypes.

Harry Styles and Billie Eilish: Figureheads of change

They have never proclaimed themselves icons of a generation or of non-gendered fashion, and yet, Harry Styles and Billie Eilish are among the celebrities who have helped break down the barriers of non-binary fashion.

Supported by Gucci — a luxury fashion house that proved a pioneer in the field and which, under the leadership of Alessandro Michele, launched a whole range of ready-to-wear and accessories in 2020 with a unisex theme — Harry Styles and Billie Eilish have been creating looks for years that no longer confine them to any kind of gender category.

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Here, it’s not a question — for either of them — of renouncing typically feminine or masculine outfits, respectively, but of playing with fashion as they see fit, reflecting their personalities, and their tastes and desires of the moment.

US singer-songwriter Billie Eilish | Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP

While Billie Eilish plays the card of contrasts by alternating between a suit and tie and a dress channelling Marilyn Monroe, Harry Styles seems to enjoy embracing his new status as a stereotype-smashing icon.

On the cover of Vogue at the end of 2020, the British singer made fashion history — and established himself as a figurehead of change — by posing in a Gucci dress.

Whether by wearing a boa on stage at the Grammy Awards, sporting non-gendered clothing in Gucci campaigns, or a manicure and crop top on the cover of “DAZED,” in just a few months, Harry Styles has become one of the most influential personalities in the very select world of fashion.

Lil Nas X makes a bold statement

Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X attends the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center on 12 September 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Picture: Noam Galai/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS/AFP

On more than one occasion, the American rapper has been seen to shake up the long-established codes of the fashion industry, whether on stage, on the red carpet or in his private life. And when he does, he certainly doesn’t do it by halves, making sure he gets his message across loud and clear.

Countless times, the artist — whose musical genre wouldn’t have allowed him to break the mold a few years ago — has stepped out in dresses, skirts, crop-tops, figure-hugging jumpsuits and more.

Lil Nas X masters perfectly the art — if it is one — of non-gendered fashion, but still manages to surprise with each of his major appearances.

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If he has many times stepped out in the non-binary looks of the Thom Browne label, his most outstanding outfit remains, without a doubt, this half-dress half-suit lilac creation by Atelier Versace, perfectly illustrating his penchant for shaking up the codes of fashion.

David Banda: An icon in the making

You may not yet know his name, but you’re bound to hear about this rising star in the months and years to come. David Banda is none other than Madonna’s son. And while he seems to have more of a taste for soccer than for music, it’s clear that the pair have much in common when it comes to style.

In fact, he could even surpass the Queen of Pop in this game. His appearances, although rare, always spark much comment and appreciation, putting him well on his way to becoming a new icon.

Clearly, David Banda is not the type of guy who seeks to blend in, preferring to showing off a very personal and totally self-confident style.

Some of his looks include a psychedelic suit worn without a shirt, and with cowboy boots on his feet, or a low-cut and slit dress from the Gucci x Adidas collection, or a long printed bathrobe-style gown. The teenager can certainly boast of having a unique look, and seems to have all it takes to become the icon of a non-gendered and totally uninhibited take on fashion.

Although perhaps the most iconic, these celebrities are obviously not the only ones to have embraced non-binary fashion. Marc Jacobs, A$AP Rocky, Bad Bunny, Pete Davidson, Tyler, The Creator and Machine Gun Kelly are some of the other stars who no longer hesitate to dress as they please. Fashion is now more than ever a means of self-expression, far from the gender constraints that have long defined people’s wardrobes.

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