Suzy Menkes: gender neutrality becomes fashion reality
”Perhaps the successful vision of clothing shared between genders works best when an entire country’s philosophy is to close up the male-female divide. Finland, like other Nordic countries, has a sharing of spirit and action between the sexes. And it seemed natural that among this year’s guest nation for Pitti Immagine, husband and wife team Niina and Timo Leskelä showed with casual style how the same garment can be worn by both men and women.
Making their designs in neighbouring Estonia and focusing on shades of black in cotton, wool and linen, the duo, whose brand name is Nomen Nescio, explained their philosophy.
“We think ‘humans’ – Finland has been really democratic and we are sexually equal,” said Niina. “There is not so big a difference between men and women. Also, I am the CEO of our brand, which is important to us because we want more women bosses!”
The designers say that when they make a new piece, they both try it on several times.
“So, when I put it on it looks like my coat – it changes with the person who is wearing it,” Niina says, while her husband Timo had put on her trousers that morning.
Perhaps when gender neutrality becomes a reality in each family, the male-female divide – at least in fashion – really will be stitched together.”