Men’s fashion in Hollywood is evolving for the better. Male risk-takers are embracing a more freed-up approach to red carpet dressing, wearing genderless pieces that are challenging the status quo. Think Harry Styles and his recent Marc Jacobs womenswear suit, or Ezra Miller in a Coach minidress. Another such star leading the charge is Cody Fern. The Australian actor, who stars in American Horror Story, has consistently maintained this spirit on the step and repeat. He was one of the first to rock men’s heels—Margiela Tabis!—and has consistently served up ensembles that are ahead of the curve, bold beauty choices included.
Yesterday in Paris, Fern sat front row at Louis Vuitton’s fall 2020 presentation, and Vogue took the opportunity to catch up with the stylish actor. This season, Nicolas Ghesquière’s collection riffed on the concept of time, showcasing clothes that were simultaneously nostalgic and futuristic; Fern tells Vogue he was particularly drawn to the designer’s fluid approach to gender as well, something the star tries to convey with his own sense of style. “More and more, the traditional lines of gender are being challenged in a way that is not about stereotypes,” says Fern. “Clothes can just be clothes. It’s not shocking for women to wear things that are traditionally masculine, or men to wear things that are traditionally feminine. What Nicolas has done with this show is that the clothes don’t have an agenda: The lines and the form of the clothing are cut in such a way that it can be worn by anyone.”
Some of Fern’s past red carpet looks have certainly played off of this tension. At last season’s Vuitton show, for instance, Fern slipped into a lacy look that cemented his status as a style star in the making; he’s also freed the nipple on the red carpet. “For me, it’s never been consciously about gender-bending or crossing gender lines,” Fern says. “These are labels that have been thrown my way a lot, but it’s been more about wearing clothes that I like. I’m always trying to tell a story with the looks that I put together.”
Still, boundary-breaking is a label that Fern can’t escape. The actor’s bold fits certainly go against the classic suiting many Hollywood gents adhere to on the red carpet. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find Fern following the rules going forward. “The ‘best dressed’ on the carpet is always somebody who has a very simple black suit, with a very simple black tie, and a very simple black shirt,” Fern says of navigating the scene. “It’s so repetitive and exhausting. The constant message is, like, ‘This is what’s masculine. This is what a man wears.’”
For his front-row look last night, however, Fern did toy with the idea of stripping things back. “Initially I wanted to do something really simple,” he says. “Underneath the look is a black shirt and pants from pre-fall. I was just going to wear that with a necklace and combat boots. Putting together a simple black look was going to be a statement about moving away from being dramatic, and getting back to a place where we’re not talking about my looks and just focusing on my work.” But the sentiment didn’t last long: Fern ended up wearing a bold, crystal-covered cape instead, which he had spotted a few months before at Vuitton’s resort 2020 womenswear show. “I put it on and I deliberated for a long time,” he says of the piece. “I thought [to myself], No, you know what: Screw what people think, and don’t worry about the labels that people put onto you.”
Fern’s willingness to experiment is exactly what drew Ghesquière to cast him in the label’s recent pre-fall 2020 campaign. “I love working with Nicolas,” Fern says of the experience. “He’s just so creative. I’ve been following him from his Balenciaga days.” In the campy images, which are styled as covers of fictitious horror and sci-fi novels, Fern embodies a “1970s goth” and, in another shot, poses costar Billie Lourd. “I love playing different characters and embodying something, so I was like, ‘Let’s go for it,’” Fern says. “I find it very awkward to just have photos taken of me: I need a persona.” And considering his ever-evolving style choices as of late, that persona is only bound to grow more captivating in the months ahead.
Below, Fern documents his Louis Vuitton show day experience.