A Romance for the Ages: The LGBTQ+ Community in the Fashion Industry

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Tasha Johnson looks at the impact LGBTQ+ people have had on our favourite designers, models and trends.

The enormous influence the LGBTQ+ community has had in the world of fashion is no secret. In honour of 2019’s LGBTQ+ month, we’re celebrating the astronomical impact that the LGBTQ community has had on the iconic fashion pieces we yearn for (I’m looking at you, crocodile print YSL clutch), as well as the trends we wear day in, day out and take for granted.

Models

LGBTQ+ influence doesn’t just stop at designers; with the industry growing more and more inclusive, there are an increasing number of LGBTQ models gracing the runways. I think I can speak for the vast majority of us when I say that Cara Delevingne and her fabulous bone structure make us all weep with jealousy. Other LGBTQ+ models include the likes of Isis King, the first trans woman on America’s Next Top Model; Laith Ashley, Munroe Bergdorf and Laverne Cox. Cox is, technically, an actress, rather than a model, but following her closing of 11 Honoré’s first runway show on 7th February 2019, people have been calling for her to be given a modelling contract – so watch this space

Image: Gareth Fuller

Designers

Some of the most iconic collections have been cultivated by gay designers. The world’s most quintessential fashion brands have been the result of a gay man‘s love affair with fashion and the expression of self through clothes. Some names you’ll undoubtedly recognise include Valentino, established by Valentino Garavani in 1960; Yves Saint Laurent, established by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé in 1961; Versace, established by Gianni Versace in 1978; and Alexander McQueen, established by its namesake in 1992.

LGBTQ+ Icons

Another way in which the LGBTQ+ community has influenced and continues to influence the fashion community is through the looks that LGBTQ+ icons serve us on the red carpets. Pictured to the immediate right is actress Lena Waithe at the 2018 Met Gala. This was a particularly ballsy and iconic moment, given that the theme was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, combined with the Catholic church‘s long history of homophobia.

Trends

It is near impossible to credit any one singular person or community with creating a trend, however several of our favourite fashion trends are widely believed to have been started, or at the least popularized, by the LGBTQ+ community. These include plaid shirts, tie dye, suspenders and neck bandanas, as well as many more

By Tasha Johnson.

Featured Image: Jamie Stoker