If you don’t know Kid Cudi, there’s a good chance you’ll know of some of the artists he’s inspired: Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Travis Scott… The 37-year-old rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer and actor is one of the most enigmatic and influential musicians in modern music, famous for his emotional, introspective vocals and iconic ‘Cudi hum’.
He’s also been one of the most consistently innovative celebrities on the planet when it comes to fashion. Cudi’s always been a trailblazer, especially when it comes to blurring the lines between men’s and women’s fashion – and especially in 2021.
Cudi (real name Scott Mescudi) made headlines earlier this year in September when he wore two very out-there outfits at two back-to-back style events: pairing a Nirvana t-shirt and a floor-length black skirt at New York Fashion Week, and then green hair, dark eye makeup and another floor-length skirt to the Met Gala.
His latest outfit, however, is his most eye-catching. Cudi attended the CFDA Fashion Awards last week in what can only be described as a cross between a bride and a groom’s outfit: an ankle-length wedding dress paired with a white blazer; lace gloves, tights and a veil; Louis Vuitton sneakers and dark eye makeup – which contrasted with Cudi’s hair, which he’d dyed bright red for the occasion.
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It was easily the most talked-about outfit from the night – no mean feat, considering how fashionable and star-studded the event was – and suggests that 2021 might just be the death knell for gendered fashion.
Cudi’s dress was designed by Eli Russell Linnetz, a Californian designer best known for designing the iconic floating stage Kanye West used on his The Life of Pablo tour, as well as his collaborations with artists like Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber. (Cudi and Kanye are close collaborators and friends, and form the supergroup KIDS SEE GHOSTS).
It’s a provocative outfit, for sure, but it demonstrates stronger than perhaps any other gender-bending outfit we’ve seen this year is that wearing women’s clothes doesn’t have to come at the cost of your masculinity (something many men still struggle to conceive). Cudi looks staunch as hell – we pity the fool who’d try and tell Cudder he’s some sort of sissy in this fit.
Cudi’s not the only traditionally masculine male celeb who’s been wearing skirts and dresses recently. Stars as diverse as Dan Levy, Harry Styles, Lewis Hamilton, Lil Nas X, Pete Davidson and Russell Westbrook have all got in on the womenswear action in 2021.
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Admittedly, it’s not for everyone, but this trend; this breaking down the barriers of gendered fashion, definitely seems here to stay. Earlier this year, DMARGE spoke to Byron Bay-based men’s stylist and fashion expert Jeff Lack, who despite having his doubts about the commercial viability of genderless fashion, does admit that it’s a “cool talking point”.
“There’s just not that much of a market for it. Men aren’t ready yet… That said, there’s definitely a double standard. Some of the female celebrities this year who’ve worn men’s suits and trousers have looked absolutely fantastic.”
Cudi’s no stranger to criticism when it comes to his fashion choices, but history has borne out that his sartorial instincts have always been bang-on.
In 2009, Cudi was vilified for wearing skinny jeans at a time when no other rapper would dare wear something so ’emo’ – but these days, skinny jeans are all the rage. In 2010, he wore a kilt to a New Year’s Eve party and got ridiculed for it. Now kilts are cool. In 2014, he performed in a crop top. Since then, all sorts of men from Troye Sivan to Zac Efron has been spotted wearing them. You get the picture.
All we’ll say is keep an eye on what Cudi wears next. It could be the next big thing.