Fashion models, especially female models, tend toward androgyny. The body types draped in the latest designs are usually light on curves, and are almost uniformly tall and slender–you might even say the ideal female fashion silhouette were that of a teenage boy. And since 17-year-old Jaden Smith has a long history of wearing whatever he feels like with no regard for what’s considered “the norm,” the decision made by Louis Vuitton this morning to name Smith the face of its new womenswear campaign feels, well, kind of like a perfect match.
Smith, of course, is a delightful teenage iconoclast who (along with his equally delightful and iconoclastic sister) has been busy striding confidently into an artistic world and celebrity culture that has so far chosen to adapt to make room for him. While it’s fascinating to see a womenswear brand make a teenage boy the face of its new campaign (sidenote: the frilly top and patterned skirt he wears in the photos the company shared on Instagram look great on him), if you had to guess which 17-year-old boy would be modeling a line of ladies’ fashion in 2016, “Jaden Smith” would probably be at the top of your list.
That’s especially true because of the other looks Smith has been known to rock. He made headlines earlier this year for wearing a dress to prom (where he was joined by Hunger Games star Amandla Stenberg), and has taken to Twitter in the past to explain that he doesn’t see a difference between “girl clothes” and “clothes.” His “boy clothes,” meanwhile, have been known to include a white Batman costume, and Smith cites Batman, Robin, Superman, Nightwing, and Kanye West as his “style icons.” That’s a list so impressive that even the fashion-forward teenager hasn’t always lived up to it (though if he’d said “Imperial Stormtrooper,” we’d have to give it to him).
Regardless of the specific inspirations behind Smith’s sartorial choices, it’s a safe bet that conversations about gender fluidity, stereotypes, and arbitrary gender designations are likely to be a big part of the discourse in 2016. That a company like Louis Vuitton is putting a clothing line that will be sold in the “women’s” section of stores into that conversation is interesting–and the mere fact that there’s a Jaden Smith available to model for them means that the designer is able to throw its cultural weight into this discussion, which isn’t something one might have expected even a year or two ago.