Defying Stereotypes with Styles

Julia T. '24

What is the thing you first recognize when holding an edition of Vogue in your hand? The eyes usually look to the cover first. Many popular figures, usually female celebrities or even co-ed bands, are featured with bright colors and stylish poses. However, just recently, Vogue has introduced a new face to the magazine, making history for many celebrities to come. The face of Harry Styles, British singer-songwriter, is presented right on the cover in the December issue of the magazine in what some might call a peculiar outfit. Along with being the first solo male on the Vogue cover, he is dashing in pieces of traditionally feminine wear.

Styles’s December 2020 Vogue issue, “Playtime with Harry Styles”, is based around the pop singer’s many lifestyles in his youth, post-boyband, and during a COVID-ridden year. The article mainly focuses on Styles’ recent hit solo albums he has released since leaving One Direction, his uniquely exquisite fashion choices and tour wardrobe, his life during quarantine, and the overall lifestyle he has developed. However, much controversy has arisen since the release of the issue, but not so much about the article itself. Styles left many people shocked when a majority of the photos featured him wearing a dress and other “feminine” clothing, breaking the barriers of assigned-gender clothing.

“Vogue Magazine” is an American fashion magazine that covers a wide range of topics including beauty, culture, fashion, lifestyle, and runway. It was announced on November 13 of 2020 that Styles would be featured on the cover of Vogue’s December issue. His shoot took place on Seven Sisters Cliffs in Sussex, England, with photographer Tyler Mitchell. The cover shows Styles wearing a custom-made, pale-blue lace Gucci ball gown paired with a black blazer, styled by Camilla Nickerson.

Hamish Bowles wrote “Playtime with Harry Styles” beautifully. The article is elegantly crafted to show the wonderful life of Styles, capturing every such detail of the pop singer’s direct words and reflections about topics, such as the Black Lives Matter and other movements in 2020, how he has worked to improve his self-love, and the backstory and true feeling of creating his own music. Viewers were able to get an inside scoop on Styles’s life off-stage; it was as if I was living the days past and present of Styles themselves through the intricate depiction and imagery of the writing. And, the impeccable photography of Tyler Mitchell did not disappoint. Capturing every angle of Styles’s flawlessly in his gorgeous feminine wear, Mitchell was able to put the final pieces of the singer’s message of “clothing has no gender” together. Camilla Nickerson styled design should not fail to be recognized as well. Nickerson also lent a helping hand in the stylization of the singer’s overcoming of the genderized, fashion barriers that society has put up. With all the effort by Bowles, Mitchell, and Nickerson, Harry Styles’ powerful demolishing-the-standards-of-toxic-masculinity statement was hardly unrecognizable in Vogue’s 2020 December Issue.

It was absolutely perfect for the famous Styles to be shown to the public wearing a dress and other “female” clothing, as some might say, on his debut as first male solo model on the cover of Vogue magazine. There has been some news recently of people criticizing the artist’s bold decision, but personally I believe Styles’s statement was a fabulous dignification of how clothing does not have a specified gender and can be worn by anyone, no matter who they are. This astonishing photography paired with a great writing piece to go along will leave you mind-blown, so take a seat and please consider “Playtime with Harry Styles” for your next read.