January 25, 2006

Politically incorrect fashion analysis

The new Dusk in Autumn blog has run several fascinating, number-filled analyses of sex and orientation differences among fashion designers:

1) At the most basic Level 1, "students at top fashion design schools," we observe a Men to Women ratio [M:W] of about 1 to 13 at Parsons and about 1 to 5.7 at FIT, among the most prestigious schools internationally...

2) Moving up to Level 2, "good enough to be showcased," the M:W is 1.29 to 1 among members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Sartorial encyclopedias Who's Who in Fashion and The Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion -- both edited by women -- show a M:W of 1.5 to 1 and 1.9 to 1, respectively, among those featured...

3) At the top Level 3, "fashion's elite," we count those great enough to win top awards, to enter The Canon, etc. The winners of the CFDA's Perry Ellis awards for emerging talent show a M:W of 3.6 to 1, nearly triple the M:W of its membership. I came up with a pretty objective (though as always somewhat subjective) list of the most influential female designers and got 9: Vionnet, Lanvin, Chanel, Schiaparelli, Sander, Prada, Westwood, Karan, and Kawakubo. I then listed the male designers at least as influential and got 24. To save space, see the appendix for the men. This gives a M:W of 2.7 to 1. Let's say, then, that M:W at Level 3 is about 3 to 1....

To foreshadow Part III of this series, in fact very few men so gifted drift toward fashion; most male fashion designers are gay. Most estimates of gay men in the male population range from 1% to 5% -- we'll assume 3%, or 1.5% of all people. However, they represent 54% of all Perry Ellis award winners and 33% of all in my most influential list. Thus, they are from 22 to 36 times more frequent at fashion's Level 3 than they are in the general population. Lesbians are typically estimated at half the frequency of gay men, meaning straight women represent about 49% of the population at large. All females at Level 3 are straight and comprise 22% of Perry Ellis award winners and 27% of my most influential list, meaning they are only about half as frequent here as they are in the general population.

... The M:W for winners of the most prestigious awards in architecture, the Pritzker Prize and the AIA Gold Medal, are 27 to 1 and 61 to 0, respectively.

And here is Dusk's subjective list of the top 24 most influential male fashion designers and his assessment of their sexual orientation, with "G" for gay and "PG" for "Probably Gay" (or, perhaps, "Parental Guidance advised if this gentleman volunteers to be your son's new Scoutmaster"):

Cardin, Dior (PG), Saint-Laurent (G), Ellis (G), Gautier (G), Armani (G), Versace (G), Tom Ford (G), Klein, Lauren, Miyake, Yamamoto, Galliano (G), Slimane, McQueen (G), Balenciaga (PG), Dolce & Gabbana (G; counted only once), Lagerfeld (G), Helmut Lang, Givenchy, Chalayan, Valentino (G), Alaïa, Poiret.

I wouldn't think Calvin Klein is 100% straight, but, what do I know?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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