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What is man? This is a question that has been repeatedly asked, from the days of Sophocles and Shakespeare, through every subsequent generation, right up until today. And it is a question that is asked more pressingly today than at any other time in the past.

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Behavioural patterns, once-assured role positions and even the rules of basic genders are put under the microscope by both men and women, young and aged of every creed and colour in the world. So, where are we in the here and now of the attitudes and influences that currently affect both genders and those in between?

Death needs black, as most of the Westerns world agrees. Power needs black. Authority needs black. And so it goes on. The symbolism invested in black as the colour of religion, judgement and authority is well documented in history, literature and even song. It is inescapable. Black is the colour of finality. It is what happens when the light goes out, in a room or in a soul. In human beings it marks an end. When we try to visualise those unimaginable seconds after death, we assume all will be black, although some religions believe that death’s darkness is changed to glorious light by the soul passing through purgatory into heaven and redemption.

I suspect many may think what this actually has to do with fashion. Well, on a count of illustrations and photographs used in fashion over the years I am convinced that the majority of the clothes featured have been black, or eventually accessorised by black, more than any other colour.
Black is versatile. Black is chic. Black is practical. Black is powerful. 
Call it masculine, if you like, but it is power associated with that characteristic that attracts. The weight lifter is in his black singlet; the motorcyclist and his black leathers; the cleric in his black soutane; the policeman with his near-black helmet, and the most definitive of all blacks, the judge who places the black cap of death and damnation on his head in the most final of all sentences.

In the past 100 years, the rules that created a civilisation that had evolved over centuries have taken some hard knocks. And most of the blows have been aimed at men, as they had to be, because they were in the driving seat that had, over the countries, become a very comfortable and enjoyable seat indeed – so much so that many men wished, wanted and assumed it was God’s status quo and could never be changed, except to make it even more advantageous to male sex.


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