The influence of queer culture on the fashion industry is evident, and a recently opened exhibit at The Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York (FITNYC) expresses how the two go hand in hand. The Fall 2013 exhibit, which will run until January 2014, is titled “A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk.” Curated through two years of careful research, the show features more than 100 outfits spanning two centuries that showcase the influence of LGBTQ designers on fashion. The goal of the show is to highlight the often overlooked contributions of gay men and women to the fashion world. The companion site QueerFashionHistory.com explains the exhibition curators seek to explore more than just the notion that designers themselves are queer-identified. Curators work to expose the complex connection among sexuality, gender expression, culture, and clothing styles throughout the ages.
Fashionistas don’t need to go to a museum exhibit in New York to experience the influence of gay culture on fashion. LGBTQ-inspired fashions exist even in our contemporary looks and department store clothing racks. OUT Magazine recently ran a slideshow featuring shots of a new campaign from noted gay photographer icon David LaChapelle for the sock brand Happy Feet. The advertising shots feature nearly nude men and a few women in poses inspired by ballet, modern dance and vogue culture. Sure, the campaign is advertising socks, but more than that, the message embraces life. Wear colors that make you feel good and represent whatever makes you happy on the inside. Wearing your own unique choice of clothes, makeup, and yes, even a little glitter, defines you as an individual.
Queer design focuses on and embraces individual style. As The Daily Beast noted in their coverage of the FITNYC exhibit, people still left the show wanting more despite more than 100 featured
outfits. Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir and American Idol favorite Adam Lambert are contemporary gay style icons who also leave fans wanting more. Lambert’s look stood out on the popular singing show because of his gender-bending use of eye makeup and flashy costumes. His daring style influenced young men, gay or straight, who like to accentuate their eyes with a little liner. Also draw attention to your eyes with a pair of retro-shaped, bold-colored eyeglasses or even colored contact lenses for taking style risks and accenting outfits.
Find a style that makes you feel good, especially if your style challenges society’s preconceived notions about what is fashionable. Queer designers have taught us that fashion is more than just the type of clothes that cover our bodies. Fashion expresses our own individual identities through clothing, hair and makeup. Don’t hold back on achieving a one-of-a-kind look that is your own.