I’m sure we’ve all seen the iconic December 2020 cover for Vogue, but just in case anyone hasn’t, let me describe it for you: Harry Styles, 26, wears a custom-made Gucci ball gown paired with a cropped tuxedo jacket, smoldering into the distant field and apparently blowing up a teal balloon.
It’s truly a work of art.
Styles’ confidence and charm comes through in his serene facial expressions and casual poses. Plus, it’s impossible not to fall completely under his spell after reading the accompanying interview, in which his sister, Gemma Styles, also makes an appearance. The two talk about their shared childhood, including how their mother would dress them in elaborate costumes and how much Harry loved it. The piece is absolutely captivating.
But the fact that I even read it at all just goes to show how much of an outlier it is.
If it had been anyone else wearing a Gucci ballgown on the cover of Vogue — if it had been any woman, I should say — I doubt I or anyone else would’ve looked twice. For better or for worse, a man wearing a dress gets attention.
That said, I fully support men wearing traditionally more “feminine” clothing and vice-versa. Gendering pieces of fabric has always seemed a little weird to me, and I’ve never been shy about shopping in the men’s section — who can resist clothing with pockets? — so I see this Vogue cover as a victory.
But not everyone feels the way I do.
Styles has received vicious social media backlash from the photoshoot. The shoot became a national talking point when conservative commentator Candace Owens took to Twitter to berate Styles and his supporters for launching what she believes to be an “outright attack on manly men.”
Apparently, Harry Styles’ choice in wardrobe indicates the extinction of “real men.”
Personally, I’d like to know what definition of “manly” she’s working with, because Harry’s poise and confidence exuded grace, charm and, well, "manliness." It takes confidence to publicly break gender norms, especially when your audience includes pretty much the entire global population. I’m not even confident enough to try on some of the designs Harry wore in this photoshoot, even though society expects it from me!
The manly man hasn’t gone anywhere, he’s just not tied down by ridiculous societal expectations anymore. So, I hope I speak for all of us when I say, thank you, Harry Styles, for gracing the next generation with such an incredible — and glamorous — role model.
Marie Plunkett is a 21-year-old classical studies senior from New Orleans.