Shifting From Binary

The Legacy of Gender Fluidity on the Future of Fashion

By Janae Armas

Inspired by three artists who created their own rules of gender normative style, and recreating some of their most iconic looks through secondhand and vintage finds, “Shifting From Binary” explores the future of fashion through looking at the past at some of the music industries most electric style icons—David Bowie, Freddie Mercury and Prince.

Revered as the  “Father of Androgyny, ” in the 1970s, David Bowie’s stage presence was magnified by his theatrical looks, and fearless self-expression through personas such as Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane.

Revered as the “Father of Androgyny,” in the 1970s, David Bowie’s stage presence was magnified by his theatrical looks, and fearless self-expression through personas such as Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane.

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Inspired by Freddie Mercury’s look at the  1985 Live Aid  concert, at a time when rock musicians were decidedly looking to use their starpower to help raise millions of dollars for causes around the world. Arguably one of Queen’s most iconic performances, exuding such strength and energy towards the feeling of hope.

Inspired by Freddie Mercury’s look at the 1985 Live Aid concert, at a time when rock musicians were decidedly looking to use their starpower to help raise millions of dollars for causes around the world. Arguably one of Queen’s most iconic performances, exuding such strength and energy towards the feeling of hope.

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While Prince’s style played with the  ideas of gender, sexuality and their intersectionality with race  throughout his career, it was not unti 1984, when “Purple Rain” was released that the artist became identified with the rich color, signifying royalty and mysticism.

While Prince’s style played with the ideas of gender, sexuality and their intersectionality with race throughout his career, it was not unti 1984, when “Purple Rain” was released that the artist became identified with the rich color, signifying royalty and mysticism.

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Fashion has and continues to be a response to what’s happening in society. In the 1920s, women in the US won the right to vote, and the modern woman appeared in a boxy, nonrestrictive silhouette that showed off her legs for the first time. In the 1940s, amidst World War II, everyone did their part to contribute to the war effort and thus utility clothing, uniform and workwear defined fashion at that time. In the 1980s, there was a drive in capitalism and fashion reflected that through excess—think shoulder pads, piled on jewelry and sequins on everything.

Here, in 2019, there’s more fluidity in the way people dress, particularly in relation to gender. For so long, this archetype of masculinity has strongly influenced many aspects of boys’ and men’s lives, including what they wear. Today, there’s a shift away from this sense of denial and shame for expressing any kind of femininity brought on by societal pressures. When thinking of what we want the future of fashion to look like, we also must consider what we want our world to look like. In the future I hope to see more people realizing our likeness to one another, and seeing that everyone has both masculine and feminine energies—to encourage true freedom of expression.

I hope there’s radical change in people’s consciousness—about what and how they consume—beyond themselves as well. Awareness is growing for the negative impacts that the fashion industry has on our planet. I hope to see vintage, secondhand, recycled and up-cycled designs dominating people’s closets and the runways—just as all the looks featured here (with the exception of the shoes!)

I am hopeful for a future of fashion that reuses more instead of always buying new, and does not conform to outdated ideas of what society plainly considers “right” or “good”. Just look to those who have paved the way. We, too, can make a change.


Creative Director & Styling: Janae Armas

Photographed by: Li Zhang

Modeled by: Kharl Jean Louise

Make-up by: Kimberly Simon