NEW YORK, N.Y. – A seductive dance of forbidden love and a model with condoms in his hair punctuated the message of menswear designer Barbara Sanchez-Kane on Monday that her native Mexico must do more to provide sex education and battle intolerance.
On opening day of New York Fashion Week: Men’s, coming just before the twice-annual display of womenswear, Sanchez-Kane urged her guests to “find your group of misfits and levitate together.”
Her predominantly Catholic country, she said in a pre-show interview, is failing to free its people of the bonds of sexual oppression, from tolerance of same-sex unions to the prevention of unwanted pregnancies.
She said her models symbolized the school boys who learn early on that “they’re soccer, not ballet.” Ingrained machismo stifles progress before it has a chance to take hold, she said.
“All of this is something the government needs to invest more time in,” Sanchez-Kane said. “The mixing of Catholicism and country, we don’t talk about these sexual things. It’s taboo still, and it’s a taboo for everybody growing up.”
That, she said, leaves young people feeling “like you’re the weird one. That’s what Catholicism impresses on us because they think of everything as pornographic.”
In response, Sanchez-Kane fashioned her show as an artisanal sex shop, with shoppers wearing jewel tear drops. Two men in little more than athletic supporters danced slowly as they struggled to finish the construction of two-meter white plaster penises with exposed chicken wire, signifying the work that still needs to be done. The two work opposite ends of her runway in an expression of love unfulfilled, coming together at the end, all based on a poem Sanchez-Kane had written herself.
“We in Mexico, we don’t know our bodies, you know? I want them not to be afraid anymore,” she said. “I wanted them to find their place of peace and end up together.”
Sanchez-Kane routinely casts Latino-only shows, explaining, “We need more of a voice,” in fashion and in life.
Her message came through in the clothes, via button-down shirts with holes cut out at the nipples and two men in stark white suits and lined lips who were joined at the hair. Others wore schoolboy plaid trousers and short suits. One walked with head gear that included the ultimate in bringing home the designer’s message: an oval blinder.