Let’s Stop Sensationalizing Jaden Smith’s Louis Vuitton Campaign

Photo via Instagram

There’s absolutely nothing new about genderless fashion. For the past few years, blurring the lines of womenswear and menswear has been an obsessive fixture of media attention and designers have all used this approach as a means to assert surface level, aesthetic rebellion. Beyond mainstream culture’s attention—or curiosity, rather—toward gender, this is something that’s been explored in the Underground for decades with marginalized people bravely mining their identities and capitalizing on the malleability of “man” and “woman” as it pertains to dress.

These unknown, unnamed figures have fearlessly gone against the grain of popular opinion, some potentially risking their lives for simply donning a dress or skirt way before the androgynous look became one widely embraced by fashion. These are the true trailblazers, though Jaden Smith, celebrity son to Hollywood actor Will Smith, has been deemed a “historical” tastemaker for starring in Louis Vuitton’s SS ’16 womenswear campaign. Posing alongside three female models, the famous 17-year-old is shown “boldly rejecting standards of masculinity” and “rising above socialization” by wearing Vuitton womenswear.

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Creative Director Nicolas Ghesquiere knew exactly what he was doing in casting Smith—a move that’d ensure media attention (like this) and fuel a fury of polarizing commentary across social media. The campaign seemingly attempts to project Ghesquiere’s “progressive” agenda to dismantle fashion’s gender binary, but falls flat by ultimately sensationalizing Smith’s outfit. He’s the only male model in the campaign dressing “against” his assigned sex, which inevitably depletes any potential assertions of normalcy. “Wow, Jaden Smith’s wearing a skirt in Louis Vuitton’s new campaign? Ghesquiere is a genius. Jaden’s an icon for a generation.” 

Smith has oft been photographed wearing womenswear in his everyday life, so this pairing comes as no surprise, but Ghesquiere’s transparent intentions and the media’s excited response are both counterproductive for any real social change inside and outside of fashion. As major news outlets continue to praise Smith’s “radical” Vuitton campaign, they’re not only erasing an age-old marker of queer culture in exchange for celebrity and capitalism, but they’re feeding the endless fascination with all things “gender-bending” and making it harder for this to be viewed as everyday. 

 

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