WHAT 'GEEK CHIC' SAYS ABOUT MODERN FASHION (AND FEMINISM) | COUTURESQUE
I'm going to be honest with you - when I think of a "geek," three things come to my mind right away: 1) The legendary TV-sitcom character in thick frames and high-waters, the one and only Steve Urkel of Family Matters, 2) The hilariously awkward 80s Michigan nerds in the cult classic show Freaks and Geeks, and 3) Me since the age of twelve.
What do all of these have in common (aside from the overwhelming amounts of incurable awkwardness)? We all found ourselves in our "most formative years" clad in orthodontics, unwantedly prescribed spectacles, and frumpy ensembles (example: I frequently left the house in my favourite Jonas Brothers tee over a long-sleeve shirt with a patterned skirt over tights, all candy-coloured, with my go-to Nintendo DS and Gameboy in hand.) Never once did my twelve-year-old-self think that my, erm, sense of style would ever become an object of high fashion affection.
However, when Alessandro Michele completely reinvented Gucci with his debut Fall 2015 collection last year, I sensed that a dramatic changed was near. I mean, let's be real, fashion was a little shook by this quirky new girl that the brand had sent down the runway. In a world of the Balmain army, Wang's gang, and Tom Ford's Hollywood, the idea of "ugly pretty" or "grandma chic" had all but fallen off the fashion deep end. This girl - the new Gucci girl (and guy too, can't leave them out!) - flaunts specs like a badge of honor, rocks berets, broaches, and loafers like they were made for her, walks through life as though it was a Wes Anderson film, and basically makes what should NOT be cool and sexy incredibly so.
I think this says a lot about the vast majority of young millennial and Gen-Z women today, who are in love with the dorky or geeky and aren't afraid to proclaim it. We see critically acclaimed actresses like Kate Winslet, Amanda Peet, and Lupita Nyong'o rock thick-framed glasses with red carpet gowns on film and TV's biggest nights and make them look totally effortless. We are in a time when sci-fi and comic book blockbuster films hold a majority female audience, and where ComicCon - which gets more hype than all of the major fashion weeks combined - has seen the female attendance rate on par with men in the last few years. Television shows like Game Of Thrones and The Walking Dead don't just have badass women at the helm of their all-star casts, but an increasingly large percentage of their proudly 'nerdy' viewers are women. Then there's Harry Potter - our generation's Dungeons and Dragons phenomenon - millennial nerd mecca, a.k.a. the franchise that made it acceptable for everyone our age to be a proud wizard-loving bookworm and also introduced us to the coolest, smartest, nerdiest literary female heroine of our time - Hermione Granger (and her on-screen face, the equally cool, intelligent, and iconic Emma Watson).
We were, thankfully, the generation of children told to embrace our weirdness, though, like most things, the peer pressure to be "cool" in school often forced the weird to hide. But that's the beauty of fashion; it lets us retreat back to our inner nerd, no matter how long we've abandoned it, to reach for those Ellery cropped trousers, oversized spectacles, hand-me-down costume jewellery, and Star Wars tee, and to run wild.
But it's not just Gucci serving up the geek vibes. Prada has sent ah-may-zing thick frame glasses down the runway that would make anyone's heart skip a few beats. Rodarte took a big dive into the geek side when their fall 2014 collection featured exquisite gowns adorned with Star Wars characters R2-D2 and C-3P0. And just a blink ago at Paris Fashion Week, Karl Lagerfeld took his Spring/Summer 2017 collection into the future with Chanel-bots, a giant mainframe set, and high-fashion side ponytails.
For those whose style doesn't completely aline with that of the dork (even though I am pretty sure there is a little nerd in everyone), simply adding the accessory of the moment - spectacles - makes anything you wear look 100x more studious. Just look at Gucci's spring/summer 2017 collection; deep in the 1970s Elton John disco-vibe, yet also serving major 70s receptionist à la Jane Fonda in 9 to 5. It was all in the frames. Or just go follow Dutch Glamour editor Stephanie Broek on Instagram - every single bomb.com outfit is paired with an equally explosive pair of frames. Topshop is even jumping on the nerd look with Napoleon Dynamite (my spirit animal)-style specs expected to hit stores soon.
It's all about embracing the ultra-nerd in all of us and expressing it through our style. Whether that's giving those glasses a second chance or adopting the loafers and socks combo, the geek trend is all about embracing the mentality of that new Gucci girl (and our twelve-year-old selves, frankly). Who cares if the outfit doesn't please other people? What does it matter if we look like total weirdos? Today's nerd style is about satisfying no one but yourself - dressing only for you. Now, what's better than that?
Main Image: Le 21eme; Adam Katz Sinding