This month is no ordinary month. It is pride month!
Originally meaning odd, eccentric, and unusual, by the late 19th century, the word queer came to be associated with same-sex relationships. Later and today, queer is an umbrella term that is used to refer to a community of different sexual orientations. In other words, when you say queer today, it refers to the LGBT community, used to refer to an individual who identifies as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
Although now many parts of the world including India are showing support to the queer community, there is still a long way to attain complete freedom from biases and societal stigmas. Now, since this month is all about the LGBTQIA community and the world’s support to them, we also show them solidarity by celebrating these natural relationships. On this occasion, we are taking this opportunity to deep dive into the history and a little bit of the current times of queer and fashion together. Now, history and the current progressions are proof that if there is one thing that has tied together people who support LGBTQIA and are a part of it, it is fashion. So, here’s an account of that!
Fashion’s Part in Queer Empowerment
Over the decades, fashion has become that one medium of expression for queerness. When different sexual orientation was illegal and unaccepted in many parts of the world, people in Europe took to fashion to identify with their queerness. Sometime around the 1920s, men and women both began to use fashion as a tool of self-expression in secret LGBT subcultures.
Slowly, this took over the fashion industry too and designers with gay sexual orientations like Christian Dior, Pierre Balmain and Cristóbal Balenciaga used their profession to come out and establish queerness as normalcy. During the 1990s, queer fashion even started to take over the runways, and in the 2000s, it was starting to become more and more accepted and ensued a positive turn in the industry and the LGBTQIA community.
Today, designers are making genderless clothing, and androgynous fashion is being widely accepted by all kinds of people. In India as well, the television and movie industry has been largely adopting androgynous clothing. The runways have been reflecting progressiveness too.
Here is a quick rundown of some of the iconic moments in queer fashion for you to fuel your imagination as fashion aspirants and get a glimpse into queer history.
RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Sasha Velour marked the “drag extravaganza” at Opening Ceremony’s spring/summer 2019. Sasha is a known drag queen and a visual artist who stands to be an inspiration to many across the world. The show that year also featured 40 LGBTQ+ models and performers that set the tone for the overall vision of the community and the show’s support for it.
In the Spring/Summer 1998 Age of Enlightenment-influenced couture show, designer Jean-Paul Gaultier designed this catwalk masterpiece. Clad by his muse, Tanel Bedrossiantz, this exaggerated ruffled corseted gown with a classic white shirt and tie is an incomparable queer fashion moment of all times. The designer is also known to have embraced and celebrated queerness in his aesthetics and designs widely since 1985.
During the Spring/Summer 2017 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin, Anja Gockel, a designer in Berlin dressed up her male model in a prideful halter neck dress, seemingly made from the rainbow flag of the queer community. It was a visual treat for sure and also a moment of pride!
During Thom Browne’s spring/summer 2018 show, he presented his queer designs on the runway with men in blazers over corporate skirts and dresses. A simple sartorial choice yet a ground-breaking one, this is queer fashion at its simplest yet best!
Alexander McQueen’s autumn/winter 1998 collection showcases cross-dressing, inspired by Joan of Arc, a Catholic martyr! The designs showed a side of queer and an expression of homosexuality, and it is certainly an inspiration for designers and the queer community today.
So, this was a little about the queer history, fashionably speaking! This is also visual proof of the fact that fashion is not just a business, it is an art and a tool for social reforms. It has been revolutionary in the past and it still stands to be so. With this, we mark our celebration of the queer and the pride month with a dose of glamour.