The rise of the 'high fashion harness' in menswear
On the Bugatti-powered carousel of modern fashion, wearing a harness is nothing new. Virgil Abloh's Louis Vuitton debuted it for S/S '19 last year, with Chadwick Boseman and Timothée Chalamet quick to take their own onto the red carpet.
But while it may not have quite filtered down to the man on the street just yet - although of course, never say never - the item is an interesting marker of just how fluid, experimental and open-minded men are becoming when it comes to our clothes.
As the latest to endorse Vuitton's harness at the SAG Awards, Michael B. Jordan proved why the old diktats of men's style are dissolving. This one was multi-coloured, paired with a tux, and even re-applied over a shirt when the ninth glass of champagne was presumably filled and everyone felt very warm and enthusiastic. Nobody batted an eyelid, either.
But a decade ago - no, even five years ago - this sort of thing was unthinkable. That's because the harness is firmly rooted in queer culture. And not just the central city gay area that's commercial and welcoming and friendly enough to make straight people feel 'OK' to be around. The harness is plucked straight from the fringes. What began life as an accessory in the gay leather scene of 1960s San Fran was soon adopted by the fist-pumping, tops off, techno-tinged nightclub that's unashamedly (and refreshingly) upfront about sexual preferences and desire. These places were never designed for straight people. Nor was its uniform.
So could you call cultural appropriation at the high fashion harness? Perhaps. While openly out men like US Olympian Adam Rippon have riffed on their own iteration, there's an argument to be had why a piece of queer paraphernalia is only made palatable when straight male actors endorse it.
But remember: Hollywood's red carpet paddles in the mainstream. The fact that men are trying new, queer-inspired clothing - to applause, too - in such a space is welcome. It suggests that we're no longer susceptible to the reductive avoidance of anything considered 'gay'. We're even wearing it. And, as a gay man, I believe that to be a very good thing indeed.