Today, we see a blast of obsession and fascination over cowboys in pop culture. What's with all these yee-haw fantasies, you ask?
Phipps Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.
A strong icon of American West culture, the cowboy trend goes back more than two centuries and symbolizes the rural, ranching lifestyle, alongside a good dose of manliness and testosterone. But just as most parts of American culture, it all started on Spanish conquered grounds, with Mexico's native cowboys who were called vaqueros – the very essence of these vaqueros could be spotted at Palomo Spain's Pompeii-themed runway show.
Sankuanz Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.
Even if the Parisian runways are far from Buffalo Bill's Wild West, this cowboy fetishization is emblematic of the designers' willingness to "go back where it all started"; to go back to menswear basics and explore virility in a playful way. However, this theme has not only taken its toll on the fashion runways: musicians and artists have been embracing it for quite a while now, with celebrities such as Madonna, Cardi B, Lil Nas X, Mac DeMarco, and Kacey Musgraves dressing up like cowboys and -girls in their recent music videos and performances. And then, let's not forget the decisive influence of Westworld, HBO's famous science fiction Western series, which was first aired in 2016 and has been serving cowboy-goodness ever since.
TAKAHIROMIYASHITATheSoloist. Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.
In Paris, on the first day of the Spring/Summer 2020 menswear runway shows, the cowboy trend was thriving at the PHIPPS show. Spencer Phipps was all about sustainable, utilitarian, and cosmic-flavored cowboy looks this season, that were paired with hiking gear elements and had something both pragmatic and playful about them. Shangguan Zhe, for his part, offered a new take on his favorite themes – destruction and protection – this season by deconstructing and reconstructing pop culture myths, the one of the marines and the one of the cowboys, amongst others. Let's say that his take on the Wild West came all dressed up in washed out denim looks from head to toe, which reminded us a bit of this glorious moment of pop-culture history. Alexandre Mattiussi for AMI, Louis-Gabriel Nouchi, and TAKAHIROMIYASHITA The Soloist also had a few elements of cowboy culture in their designs, even if their looks had a much more subtle and minimalist take on the trend.
Backstage at the AMI Alexandre Mattiussi Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.
But why are fashion designers so eager to tap into the postmodern cowboy trend? Above and beyond the desire to celebrate a glorious American archetype or some sort of revisionist fantasy, fetishizing the biggest machos among the heroes – because that's what cowboys are deep down – is also a matter of rediscovering the source of a certain playful masculinity in opposition to the gender-fluid and gender-blurring trends of recent seasons. After all, the cowboy makes an unequivocal statement of virility: the trend therefore stays for self-sufficiency and freedom, but first and foremost for the pleasure of unexpected adventures. In other words, boys will be boys – and want to be heroes and have fun at it. If you still can't get enough of all things cowboy, we urge you to follow this Instagram account. Yee-haw.