Rousteing may be the latest male fashion designer to pose in nothing but his friendship bracelets, but he is hardly alone in this expression of a concept: The desire to shed one’s clothes and stare at a camera has been indulged by these guys since at least 1971, when Yves Saint Laurent did the same thing—his single accessory of choice not bracelets, but his trademark spectacles.
Between these two audacious Frenchmen are plenty of other fellows—Bernhard Willhelm, cover boy on the first issue of the legendary Butt magazine! Riccardo Tisci showing it all to Mert & Marcus! Tom Ford starkers for Steven Klein! Why, you may ask, do men who make a living creating beautiful fashions—almost always for women—feel the need to roll around in the buff for our delectation? Why would we want to see the people who create our clothes shed their own outfits?
Female designers never do this! Stretch your mind back to Coco Chanel, to Elsa Schiaparelli, ladies so fearless in other ways—did they ever think of casting off their cardis, losing their lobster frocks in front of a lens? Maybe this is because women, no matter how accomplished—or even how gorgeous—always feel they aren’t perfect enough to withstand this kind of scrutiny. And of course, being photographed in the buff would immediately devalue the seriousness and the strength of their contributions, inviting derision, scorn, and no doubt a passel of blathering, judgemental talking heads.
But for men, it seems like it’s the other way around. This peacock syndrome is just another way of their saying—look at me! See how hot I am? Their male gaze, directed at themselves, is perhaps just another boast, another example of these kings of the world displaying their power, their prowess.
Even Marc’s newfound confidence pales in intensity compared with Rick Owens, a guy who is so enamored of the male physique that he featured flaccid wieners on his most recent Paris runway. Owens has not only permanently enshrined his naked likeness at his boutique in the Palais Royale (created by the same folks who make the statues for Madame Tussauds), but at his 2006 Pitti Uomo installation he offered a version of this sculpture, depicting himself urinating into the mouth of—you’d never guess—yet another Owens. “The fact that I’ve presented myself in extreme situations was just a cheerful way of saying there were few limits in the world I was inviting you into,” he explained. Thanks for the invitation, Rick, but before we RSVP, just confirming—guess there will only be guys at this pajama-less party?