Billy Porter: A red carpet menswear revolution is led by the velvet gown, jewelled cape-wearing actor
And the category is...
Guys stepping out of the tightly-defined boundaries of menswear is nothing new; apart from historical exemplars such as Oscar Wilde, Liberace, Elvis, Bowie and Prince, living celebs including Jonathan Van Ness, Ezra Miller, Chadwick Boseman, (deep breath) RuPaul, David Sedaris and Alan Cumming regularly pooh-pooh staid staples for sweeping overcoats or capes, beads and feathers galore, and skirts.
Things weren't always quite so boring in the world of men's dress. In the head-choppy days of the late 18th century, the collapse of traditional hierarchy and surge of egalitarian sentiment led to the rejection of glamour and status-signaling fashion, dubbed The Great Male Renunciation (yes, that's a valid academic term). Henceforth, ostentation in clothing was a privilege allowed solely to women, and men who defied the new social order were routinely shunned or labelled as *pearl-clutching auntie voice* "homosexual!".
While ascribing fashion society-changing powers may seem a little stretchy, if the 2018 of Black Panther, Pose and Crazy Rich Asians has taught us anything, it's that the images we see shape our understanding of the world. These boundary-testing celebs demonstrate that clothes, despite the assumptions tightly connected to them, are a superficial expression of identity; no matter the judgements flung in one's direction, wearing a skirt one day and a suit the next cannot change your gender identity or sexual orientation. With the stakes for dressing up significantly lowered, why not go wild?
Actor Billy Porter — working with stylist Sam Rattelle — has taken that freewheeling fashion philosophy to the next level, both IRL and in-character as emcee Pray Tell on Ryan Murphy's Pose. Having single-handedly shut down the Golden Globes and Oscars in unconventional evening wear, Porter's sartorial star is set to rise further after his recent appointment as the CFDA's men's ambassador for NYFW. Awards season may be over (and we'll have to wait for Pose's season 2 junket to get our fill of Billy/Pray Tell awesomeness) but till then, why not relive the amazing, viral moment when Glenn Close fell in love with Porter's lewk on the Oscars red carpet?
* kudos to the Broadway nerds who clocked Close's Tony-winning rendition of With One Look from the musical adaptation of Sunset Boulevard in the clip.