Floyd Hogan is the breakout fashion label by Parsons MFA graduate and rising designer Madeleine Hogan. The Australia native debuted her thesis collection during Parsons' seasonal NYFW show this week, and it was one of the only menswear-focused collections of the presentation. As such, the conceptual clothes focused on oversized, exaggerated silhouettes and various construction techniques as a commentary on socially upheld notions of maleness. PAPER caught up with Hogan to talk about male drag, toxic masculinity in the #MeToo era, and professional wrestlers.
How long did it take you to create this collection?
Endless hours. Those "muscle" looks in particular; they had over 220 patterned pieces for each look, and you know, a normal jacket might have five, so it was definitely a challenge that I gave myself to really push those pattern-making skills. [It was] endless hours of toiling and re-toiling, and my whole aim was to see how I could actually recreate those muscles and the rippling skin and veins but in an aesthetically pleasing sense. It was fun finding techniques to do that, like the ruching and elastic cording.
I love the gunmetal jacket with the black lace-up trousers. What was the process of creating that look?
There's an all-black version that's a lot more sunken and deflated, because the collection had this storyline to it where we built up the muscle to that peak look which you're talking about, and then the backslide, because a lot of my research around these men and their world was also the fact that it's their body and eventually that starts to get old, or deflate, and time takes its toll.
What made you want to explore male muscularity — or the deterioration of it — for this collection?
Menswear has always been my choice when it comes to designing, so men have been at the forefront of my mind. It's funny I grew up in a small, country town, which was very male-centered, and I now realize how much male influence I had around myself as a young girl. They've always played a role in my life and I thought it was poignant. I didn't necessarily set out to explore this, but as I started my thesis, it was obviously an interesting time for men with the question of masculinity, and a lot of the sexual harassment and assault allegations were just beginning to come out at the time.
This really made me think of the question: "What is masculinity?" I started to realize as I researched that unfortunately, young boys are conditioned from day one, that there's this idea that masculinity is based around strength, size, and aggression, and therefore doesn't that tick into where things go later on? There were also moments of questioning of body dysmorphia obviously as well, and you know, we always tend to talk about women and body dysmorphia, but there are a huge portion of men dealing with that Adonis effect, and again, focusing on size and strength, so it all came down to this question of conditioning and society's shaping of the norm.
Also, I'm often drawn to the cultural fringes of society; I find that's where some of the most exciting, bizarre stuff happens, where society has pushed those things out. So that's where I tapped into the WWE circuit and extreme body building [for my research], because I just thought there were these fabulous moments of extreme masculinity but also camp theatrics. It's almost like the most extreme male drag for straight men. What is your sexuality and what is masculinity? That's what I wanted to explore.
That explains exaggerated silhouettes and the idea that these men are almost being dwarfed by the dramatic oversizing of the clothes.
That's it. I'm working with this unnatural silhouette. Like, how can a male body even become that big? And what happens to the body when it does? And much of that is from society dictating what men should be aiming for.
I like that you mentioned WWE, as a heightened performance of masculinity, or a type of severe male drag.
Exactly, like a lot of my fabric and textile influence and decisions came from the fact that when you start to look at the WWE and the extreme body building — their costumes, their textile choices and embellishments — I'm like, yeah this is theater. I also really love to play with the idea of taste; what is garish and what is fabulous and what's sexy and what's completely weird? So yeah, continuing to push and pull that tension, and I thought that was really fun within that framework.
Of the looks that showed, do you have a favorite one?
I do love how that mustard look came out, the mustard velvet tight shirt with the silk black pants. And you know, those shirts were purposely meant to be straining at the buttons — again suggesting this strain on silhouette. That was a fun one for me, but the robe closing the collection was a massive surprise. We were like, How are we gonna finish this collection? What is this final moment? Is it another muscle jacket? These WWE guys like Ric Flair, they have these fabulous gowns, big feathers and Swarovski everywhere, so I was like, Why the hell not?