An exploration of the "gayness" of fashion
From Cristobal Balenciaga and Christian Dior to Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, many of the greatest fashion designers of the past century have been gay. Indeed, it is widely believed that most male fashion designers are gay. Is this just a stereotype? Or do gay men really have a special relationship with fashion? To what extent have lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people also made significant contributions to fashion? Fashion and style have played an important role within the LGBTQ (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer) community, both pre- and post-Stonewall, and even as early as the eighteenth century. Yet surprisingly little has been researched about high fashion as a site of gay cultural production.
A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk seeks to explore the “gayness” or “queerness” of fashion by drawing attention to the historic presence of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender, and other “queer” people in the fashion system. The exhibition also looks at the creativity and resistance to oppression expressed by LGBTQ subcultural styles.
Curated by Fred Dennis, senior curator of costume, and Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT, with exhibition design by award-winning architect Joel Sanders, the exhibition features approximately 100 ensembles spanning more than a century of fashion. Organized in roughly chronological order, the exhibition explores the history of modern fashion through the lens of gay and lesbian life and culture, addressing subjects including androgyny, dandyism, idealizing and transgressive aesthetic styles, and the influence of subcultural and street styles, including drag, leather, and uniforms.