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Men in ballgowns is this year’s best red-carpet trend

Andrew Kelly/Reuters
Out with the suit and tie.
By Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Men’s red-carpet fashion, historically defined by the boring black suit and bow tie, has been getting a long-awaited refresh this awards season. Yes, tuxedos themselves are finally getting an update—a little lace here, an embroidered bib there—but this year has been elevated by those who have ditched them altogether.

Actor Billy Porter is leading the way. He arrived at last night’s Tony Awards in New York in a custom-made ballgown created from the curtain of Broadway’s Kinky Boots. Per the Hollywood Reporter, the Celestino Couture “gender-fluid evening suit” was designed to look like female reproductive organs, in a nod to women’s reproductive rights.

Reuters/Brendan McDermid
Porter at the Tonys.

A star of FX’s Pose, Porter first made red carpet-headlines at the Oscars in a velvet tuxedo gown by Christian Siriano:

Invision/AP/Richard Shotwe
Porter at the 2019 Oscars.

His look last night was rivaled only by that of actor and singer-songwriter Taylor Mac, who arrived in a spangled, multicolored creation by Matthew Flower, also known as Machine Dazzle.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters
Mac at the 2019 Tonys.

Last month’s Met Gala also offered a number of notable gender-fluid looks. Highlights included the dramatic, feather-trimmed dress robe worn by fashion journalist Hamish Bowles.

Reuters/Andrew Kelly
Bowles at the 2019 Met Gala.

And Jared Leto in a graceful scarlet number.

Reuters/Andrew Kelly -
Leto in Gucci at the 2019 Met Gala.

It seems, increasingly, that gender norms are démodé when it comes to the red carpet. The Cannes film festival—an event with a notoriously strict (and dated) dress code—was an unfortunate exception this year. But the 2019 Oscars gave us as many women in notable suit-looks as it did gown ensembles.

Perhaps more men, both on and off the red carpet, will continue to eschew the tired tux in favor of kilts, capes, and the occasional full-skirted gown.

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