New Exhibit Pulls Queer Fashion Out of the Closet

By: Brandon Voss
10.1.2013

Feel free to play Lady Gaga's "Fashion" to set the mood for this post.

Because fashion has been an important mode of gay expression long before you rocked your first sassy slogan tee, a new exhibition of approximately 100 stylish ensembles is currently paying tribute to all things fashionably queer.

The recently opened "A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk," which runs through Jan. 4 at NYC's Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, is being billed as the first museum exhibit to explore in depth the significant contributions to fashion made by the queer community over the past 300 years.

"This is about honoring the gay and lesbian designers of the past and present," says senior curator of costume Fred Dennis in a statement. "By acknowledging their contributions to fashion, we want to encourage people to embrace diversity."

Adds Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at FIT, “We also hope that this exhibition will transform our understanding of fashion history. For many years, gays and lesbians were hidden from history. By acknowledging the historic influence of gay designers, and by emphasizing the important role that fashion and style have played within the LGBTQ community, we see how central gay culture has been to the creation of modern fashion.”   

Dandyism, androgyny, street style, drag, punk, leather, and many other queer style trends are represented, and particular attention is paid to the influence of Stonewall and the AIDS outbreak. The exhibit concludes with a section on gay wedding fashion.

"A Queer History of Fashion" 

Photo: Butch Chanel, Wigstock, NYC, 1992 by Michael James O'Brien, via Facebook

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