Around the world, Fashion Week is generally known for being a showcase of waifish, uniformly homogenous-looking models parading down the runway. Even as new voices push for change it can sometimes seem like fresh perspectives on what it means to be beautiful can get lost in the mix. Fortunately that wasn’t the case during Los Angeles Fashion Week last year.
When dancer and model Dexter Mayfield stepped onto the runway during male underwear brand Marco Marco’s fashion show last year, he managed to capture the attention of everybody in the room in addition to making the internet take notice. Holding his own in a hooded turquoise and black mesh number paired with high-heeled boots wasn’t enough for the showstopping plus-size model.
As Mayfield finally reached the end of the runway he showed the versatility of the piece by playfully unzipping it. After that he graced the audience with a little twerk and then proceeded to skip gracefully down the runway. In that moment Mayfield managed to not only entertain the Los Angeles Fashion Week audience but show them what real confidence looks like. Needless to say, Mayfield’s display of boldness ended up being the runway walk that was heard around the world.
Part of the significance of Dexter’s video is that it brought something back that the fashion world is sorely missing: pomp and circumstance. Years ago, when many of the world’s most famous models were beginning their careers, it was not taboo for a model to set themselves apart with their runway performance. This was the era that birthed Naomi Campbell’s famous way of gliding down the world’s runways as if she was walking on air. It was an era where supermodel Pat Cleveland’s show stopping spins and flirtatious gestures were commonplace. Dexter’s genius way of capturing our attention might be seen as a way of referencing that era of fashion. His wonderfully ostentatious way of modeling also embodied the spirit of Marco Marco’s brand, which is known for choosing showstopping male models in underwear.
His runway performance was probably one of the most shared and viewed high fashion underwear videos of 2015. The video of his runway performance garnered more than 25 million views on Facebook alone last year. According to Buzzfeed, a comedian named Sam Kalidi shared the video on Facebook after adding the song “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera to play in the background. Kalidi also added the affirmation “be your own kind of beautiful” at the end. He posted the video with a message that thanked Dexter and encouraged viewers not to succumb to fat shaming. Kalidi’s Facebook post garnered more than four million views alone.
According to Buzzfeed, Dexter was a little intimidated by the prospect of modeling but right before going on he had a conversation with the designer behind Marco Marco and decided to go “for it.” What came next was a moment that distinguished itself among high fashion underwear videos and that threatened to break the internet.
It should be a surprise to no one that Dexter has a background in dance. How else could he skip so gracefully in high-heeled boots? His background in dance gave him experience dealing with environments that have very limited expectations of who and what people are allowed to be. Despite that, Dexter seemed to be able to step into a certain headspace and push past the limits of how people think a model should look.
Dexter’s Fashion Week moment was even more important given the fact that male plus size models are so rarely included in conversations about expanding mainstream fashion’s definition of beauty. According to Details Magazine, Dexter’s runway moment may have been a first for plus-sized male models. The magazine wrote that Dexter’s viral runway walk was the “closest any plus-size model has come to modeling at a major fashion show.” Dexter’s moment could end up being groundbreaking start of making sure that men of size are more visible in the fashion industry. Hopefully this moment shows other designers that plus size male models are more than capable of modeling a wide range of clothes and that consumers are interested in seeing them do so. Dexter may also lead the way in getting the fashion industry to put more plus-size men in underwear.
Dexter was one among a number of male models in underwear to walk the runway during last year’s Los Angeles Fashion Week. A number of handsome men in underwear graced the catwalk including adult entertainer Boomer Bank and Men’s Health cover star Aydian Dowley, according to Out.com. Other luminaries who walked during the show included RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Raja, Alyssa Edwards, Detox and Sharon Needles. Brendan Jordan also walked during the show. If Jordan’s name doesn’t ring a bell, readers may remember him as the effervescent boy who stole the show during a local news broadcast. During the fashion show, Brendan modeled a black, turquoise and magenta number while wearing an expertly applied full face of makeup. Models like Brendan Jordan and Dexter Mayfield made last year’s fashion show one of the many highlights of LA Fashion Week.