Over the last month, Raf Simons has announced the launch of his first womenswear line under his own name, and Kim Jones revealed he's joining Fendi as artistic director for womenswear alongside Silvia Venturini Fendi, while maintaining his current role at Dior.
The idea of working for two houses simultaneously is in the vein of Karl Lagerfeld (the late designer split his time between Chanel and Fendi) and is therefore an appropriate and historically resonant business move for both the Italian label and for Simons. Tom Ford arranged a similar set-up in 1999 while working as the creative director for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent.
In this era, drawing a line between menswear and womenswear can feel a bit obtuse. Just because Craig Green is a menswear designer, it doesn't stop people like FKA twigs wearing his designs (often better than the men), and there's a similar case with Jaden Smith and his penchant for Nicholas Ghesquiere's womenswear line for Louis Vuitton.
However, there is a definite trajectory of menswear designers switching to womenswear. And perhaps, like a fashion designer's eventual pivot to designing furniture or artisanal ceramics (cc: Raf Simons, Ann Demeulemeester, Martin Margiela, Rick Owens), a defection to womenswear is inevitable for those at the top of their game.
In light of the news, here's a list of some of the biggest male menswear designers who took a swing at designing womenswear to keep your eyes entertained before the inevitable Fendi x [insert streetwear-adjacent pop artist here] fur coat collaboration is announced.
Who: Hedi Slimane When: Saint Laurent 2012 What did it look like? Your messy, party girl has arrived on her flight from LA. She gives you an air kiss and calls you by the wrong name. You tell her you like her Yves Saint Laurent fit and she replies "okay but drop the Yves."
Who: Jonathan Anderson When: Jonathan Anderson FW11 What did it look like? The JW Anderson girl is London-based but vacations in Ibiza with her DJ boyfriend where they own a sea-facing property. Anderson's debut womenswear line featured chic, grandmother-esque fabrics with furry military boots and belted, pleated skirts. It connects to the slightly twisted vision of Anderson's menswear line but with a softer, feminine edge.
Who: Raf Simons When: Jil Sander FW05 What did it look like? Minimalistic (as per the Jil Sander handbook) with some exaggerated shapes. Fashion writer Cathy Horner wrote at the time, "On Tuesday a little-known Belgian designer named Raf Simons had the full attention of the fashion world. Mr. Simons's collection for Jil Sander, his third since becoming creative director 18 months ago, was perfect. It will make everything else, I bet, seem a little contrived, a little clunky, a little silly."
You can see more of how Simons will dress the women of the future by checking in at Milan Fashion Week to see his first collection at Prada, assuming it goes ahead.
Who: Virgil Abloh When: Off-White™ FW14 What did it look like? Abloh's first offering for Off-White™'s womenswear line debuted in Paris with Abloh's signature diagonal stripes across maxi skirts and fringe jackets. It was well-received and even shortlisted for the LVMH prize that year, catalyzing the movement for "luxury streetwear."
Who: Glenn Martens When: Y/Project FW16 What did it look like? Very Rihanna. Ruched jeans, enormous parachute sleeves, and zip-front leather track pants with Marten's signature deconstructive approach made a powerful first offering for the designer's first unisex collection.
Who: Thom Browne When: 2011 What did it look like? Thom Browne's first foray into womenswear saw the purveyor of shrunken suits create a small capsule range exclusively for Barney's. Speaking to WWD at the time, Browne said, "I think it's what people expect from me, very men's inspired women's clothing. Gray flannel, navy cashmere. Good, all-American men's wear influence, but fitting in a cool feminine way. I want it to be very understandable. Personally, when I see it on the girls I think it looks so good. I like the idea of men's tailoring on girls. It's very strong and sexy in a non-overt way."
Browne's womenswear line was later thrust into the spotlight when First Lady Michelle Obama wore a coat and dress of his to Barack Obama's 2013 presidential inauguration.
Who: Kiko Kostadinov When: Kiko Kostadinov SS19 What did it look like? For Kiko Kostadinov's debut womenswear line, the Bulgarian-born, London-based designer enlisted Central Saint Martens Graduates Laura and Deanna Fanning to create a Brave New World-inspired collection of dramatic dress shapes with soft textures, and a bold color palette to delineate the various classes of society in Huxley’s chilling vision of a future world state.