What it feels like for a boy

Wonderful lapel and collar, shoulders. I wonder if menswear resubsumes interpretations from womenswear. It would be a pity if it didn't.

Time and again designers voyage into explorations of the androgynous, paring away details or exaggerating. Do these become more daring and provocative as society becomes more open?

Or as certain individuals cast their influence?

Below is a scene from the movie The Cement Garden, where the adolescent Charlotte Gainsbourg mentions the lines sampled by Madonna to introduce her song "What It Feels Like for a Girl":

Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots because it's okay to be a boy. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, because you think that being a girl is degrading. But secretly, you'd love to know what it is like, wouldn't you? What it feels like for a girl?

Certainly, not all men harbor these secrets. But it is also true that the pressure to conform among the male species can be overbearing.

What does it mean to break loose from these boundaries to cross the border?

Cole Mohr in a Marc by Marc Jacobs 2008 Fall/Winter campaign. He also does the men's collection for the season.

Marc Jacobs wearing a tartan kilt during the Marc by Marc Jacobs 2009 Spring/Summer show and in Interview Magazine's June/July 2008 issue, as Andy Warhol.

A woman said in one of the online fashion forums that she would never wear a certain Marc by Marc Jacobs dress after seeing Cole Mohr in it.

Call it insecurity or revulsion, but while some find this form of expression in bad taste, others take it as rebellion with an edge.

What did the original Andy Warhol and David Bowie mean for their generation?

What do the images they left mean to us, who live in a time when decadence almost always means merely luxury and money?

Given these impressions, how then should we take Thom Browne's new 2009 Spring/Summer show with its skirt-like shorts, sari-flap pants, and frippery that look like grass-skirts?

Play: poking at men's egos, dropping their pants, and inflating their suits with tutus.

Apparently, we are only left with irony.

Even so, Browne's signature bending of form and structure has actually widened the range of masculine expression. Off-runway of course, and without the ballerina props that no matter what I say can't hide intended humor.

How can you repress a smile when the world has been turned upside down even without the help of heels, mascara, and quilted purses?

Photos from Face Hunter, dans-paris (now Garance Dore), and men.style.com

Expect to find Charlotte Gainsbourg again on these pages.