In January 2011, Jean Paul Gaultier's haute couture runway show ended with the image of a willowy blonde bride in a diaphanous gown. The bride was a man, and one of the first models to walk for both men's and women's collections. The event marked the start of a trend. "This ad is gender neutral," proclaimed a 2016 poster for the fashion brand Diesel; "I resist definitions," announced a Calvin Klein ad in the same year, while a Louis Vuitton shoot featured Jaden Smith wearing a skirt.
The art of Edward Burne-Jones and Gustave Moreau, the writings of Oscar Wilde, and the mystic Jos phin P ladan prove that the turn of the previous century was as compelled by androgyny as this one. From the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century, the genders have blended: from Berlin in the 1920s to Hollywood of the 1930s with Garbo and Dietrich; from the 1940s Bright Young Things to the androgynous pop stars of the 1970s, and beyond.
Patrick Mauries presents a cultural history of androgyny--accompanied by a striking selection of more than 120 images, from nineteenth-century painting to contemporary fashion photography--drawing on the worlds of art and literature to give us a deeper understanding of the strange but timeless human drive to escape from defined categories.