Why has it become more and more difficult for women to find real gentlemen? Where are those handsome men, who open the door for you and surprise you with flowers? Where are the men that invite you on a romantic dinner AND pay for it?
Fact is the gentleman has died. And it might have been because of us women.
The reason for the extinction of the gentleman was emancipation. Emancipation in women’s fashion started during the war. Men had to go into war and their wives were forced to do men’s jobs to bring food to the table. It was not only a social change, but also a big one for fashion. Pants and turbans became the sign of a powerful, independent woman. And it was from that moment, when women realised they didn’t need to have a male by their side – they could just take the role of the man instead.
In today’s world the powerful woman can be seen everywhere. One of them is the iconic designer Donna Karan. As businesses began to open manager and leadership roles to women during the 1980’s, it was not only the woman’s role in the workforce that began to change, but also the way they started to dress. (Phelan 2012) Karan was one of the first designers that saw the social changes of women and supported it by designing their wardrobe. Her fashion celebrates the modern woman. (Evans-Harding 2012)
“She is a working-woman, constantly on the move. She needs to dress to go from day to night, she doesn’t have time to change her clothes and she’s constantly travelling. “ (Evans-Harding 2012, p. 1)
As a working mother herself, Karan’s stylish, fashionable and comfortable pieces for the everyday career woman, created an aura of power for their wearer.
But how does Donna Karan explain our society’s decline in gentlemen? Karan was only one of the many female designers, who showed that women could not only dress like men, but also should not have to financially depend on them. The DKNY woman was free and independent. The traditional gentleman was no longer necessary.
For the launch of Karan’s ready to wear autumn/ winter collection of 2013, Max Berlinger wrote in an article for Vogue: (Phelan 2012)
“DONNA KARAN’S collections are constant reminders of what it means to be a woman. The ethos of her entire brand has been to delve into, and explore, the complexities and contradictions of the female sex.” (Berlinger 2012, p. 1)
Although it is believed that the gentleman has died, like women, men have also changed. Even though some women are still searching for a strong man with traditional values, they might find traits of a gentleman in somebody who does not necessarily match the traditional description.
Phelan, H 2012, ‘25 Women Designers Who Changed Fashion Forever’, Fashionista, 4 May, viewed 23 Auguast 2015,<http://fashionista.com/2012/05/25-of-the-most-influential-female-designers-that-changed-fashion-forever#26>.
Evans-Harding, N 2012, ‘In Conversation with Donna Karan’, Harper’s Bazaar, 16 November, viewed 23 August 2015, <http://www.harpersbazaar.co.uk/fashion/fashion-news/donna-karan-interview-191112>.
Berlinger, M 2012, ‘Donna Karan’, Vogue, London, 13 February, viewed 23 August 2015,<http://www.vogue.co.uk/fashion/autumn-winter-2012/ready-to-wear/donna-karan>.