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Male models: What’s the trending look at Florence’s fashion fair?

Male models may lack the recognition of their female counterparts, but symbolize the fashion world’s ideas about masculinity

Saffiya Ansari

Published: Updated:

With controversial waistlines and celebrity status, the women of the modeling world are used to the glare of the media spotlight, but what of the sharp-suited male model?

Despite the taught and toned men that stormed the catwalk at this year’s Pitti Uomo fashion fair in Florence, discussions on trends in male modelling have only recently come to the fore in mainstream media as most still remain glued to what’s hot, and what’s supposedly not, in terms of women and their bodies.

The grunge-dipped 1990s saw the rise of the Kate Moss-inspired “Heroin Chic” look. Major fashion houses were choosing increasingly gaunt, pale and waif-like women to show off their clothes. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton even slammed the look in 1997, saying “the glorification of heroin is not creative, it is destructive.”

“The look generally involves pale skin, dark circles under the eyes, and extreme thinness, much like a heroin addict,” explained Business Insider.

The noughties saw the rise of the more athletic model, think Brazilian beauty Giselle Bundchen and the likes of the toned and tanned Victoria’s Secret Angels.

Meanwhile, it’s raining men in Florence and high time to delve into the tough and competitive world of male modeling.

“Most male models lack the name recognition… of their female counterparts,” wrote Janelle Okwodu for Style.com in 2014, but “men are an important part of the pop culture conversation. Serving both as aspirational body ideals and arbiters of cool, male models provide a visual representation of fashion’s (and the world at large’s) ideas about masculinity.”

The quintessential bad boy look was out in full force in the 1980s, with British model John Pearson firmly stamped as the poster child of the decade. Meanwhile, the 1990’s saw the rise of Hollywood-handsome faces like Cameron Alborzian and Tyson Beckford.

Since then, fashion hawks have spotted the rise of the teenage-looking male model; tall, thin and with striking bone structures.

Last year saw the wild rise of brawn and beards with the advent of the Lumberjack look, which led to media outlets coining the phrase “Lumbersexual.”

The Lumbersexual man typically wears leather, denim, plaid, and flannel and, most importantly, rocks an impressive beard that is “long, bushy, and unkempt,” according to Cosmopolitan magazine.

Before that, the metrosexual look was popular in fashion circles, according to U.S. media. Copious hair product, pretty boy looks and the essential Calvin Klein boxer-briefs were en vogue.

And now? Models on the Pitti Uomo runway differed according to the designer staging the show but certain traits pointed to a trend in the male modeling scene.

Italian brand Casamadre chose lean lads with long, ruffled hair. With slim, angular faces and borderline surly teenager hallowed cheeks, the models were a world away from the burly Lumberjack trend. The male models wore their shoulder length hair loose or swept over to one side.

Although beards made a heavy appearance on the runway, the facial hair dipped more into the hippie style than the cropped facial hair stereotypically associated with Italian male modeling.

Meanwhile, Milan-based Arthur Arbesser’s models were also on the lanker side, with almost bowl-cut hair dos and androgynous features.

Described as the “Olympics of menswear trade shows,” Pitti Uomo is set to run until June 19 and features hundreds of fashion brands and their offerings in men’s clothing and accessory collections.