Fashion and the Return of the Over-Sexualised Man

Fashion and the Return of the Over-Sexualised Man

In 2002, an advertising campaign for M7, a men’s fragrance by Yves Saint Laurent, made headlines and sparked debate for featuring a nude black and white photograph of Samuel de Cubber.

For commercial fashion photography, this image was undoubtedly a first, and the controversy that followed was immense. This Dazed report suggests that the YSL offices received more than 800 complaint letters, which in the days before social media amounted to a significant level of consumer feedback.

Bold Advertising and the Metrosexual Aesthetic

This bold advertising campaign did not come out of nowhere, however, and arguably effectively reflected the wider metrosexual aesthetic that was rising in popularity. It also wasn’t long before other brands, including Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, began to release collections and advertising campaigns that similarly tapped into this hyper-sexualised masculine image.

During the years that followed this period in the early 2000s, body-con clothes were rapidly replaced and male bodies were hidden beneath flannel shirts, oversized sweatshirts, khaki chinos and thick beards. Now, however, the tides appear to be changing once again and the decline of athleisure-inspired fashion is creating an opportunity for men to re-associate their bodies with the art of seduction.

Fashion and the Return of the Over-Sexualised Man
The Second Rise of Sartorial Seduction

Sheer fabrics and netting are becoming firm features in an array of men’s sartorial collections. Open knit sweaters, designed specifically to be worn with nothing underneath, are also rising in popularity alongside sheer suits and cut-out jackets. Seductive dressing isn’t all about sheer fabrics, however, as slim-fit Farah shirts, which can be seen here, emphasise all frames and allow wearers to showcase their individuality and sartorial credentials in style.

Interestingly, the ways in which garments are being styled is shifting as well. Suits from designers such as Givenchy and Balmain are being modelled without shirting and are being designed to emphasise the exposed male body. Whereas womenswear is specifically focussing on reducing objectification and celebrating body diversity, menswear collections are almost exclusively being advertised by models who are chiselled, toned and decidedly in the under-40 age bracket.

Fashion trends aren’t everything and, interestingly, research indicates that men are investing more into their appearance than ever before. Sharpening their looks, masculine vitality is being embraced, and men are once again not only using fashion to cover their physique but also to emphasise it.