Tyranny to Trend
Written by Saranya Mondal
Illustrated by Anousha Dutta
Edited by Anvita Tripathi
As the queer community takes the fashion world by storm and instigates a revolution, it is only right to celebrate and flaunt it. In honor of Pride month, Saranya Mondal of Perspectoverse presents a brief on the queer community’s representation in fashion.
'Cross-dressing' is one such factor that encouraged this social revolution in fashion. From the first woman, Elizabeth Smith Miller, to wear pants in the 80s to David Hall advocating men to wear skirts and Jean-Paul Gaultier creating his first male skirt in the 90s, the fashion industry has incorporated gender neutral or queer fashion as a ‘trend’ while being ignorant towards marginalized and stigmatized people. People, who face disapproval and violence for “violating” the norm and breaking through gender binaries through their own fashion choices and the way they choose to represent themselves.
Fashion has and will remain an instrument for expression and representation. The emergence of this concept brings about a regime change in Fashion. From Christian Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga to Billy Porter and Laverne Cox, queer fashion has always been present it’s just yet to emanate completely.
The authentic creations of designers, who are a part of the imminent LGBTQ+ community, like Walter Van Beirendonck and a variety of looks saturate the runways which evince that our sexuality and the way we present ourselves are inextricable.
This fashion strata comes from a history of oppression and secrecy. Gay sexuality was not only illegal but considered a mental illness. Even now people, part of the queer community, aren’t accepted worldwide and questioning your gender or sexuality is labeled as a ‘phase’.
Valerie Steele an American fashion historian said, “So I think gays and lesbians had to be hyper aware of how to read and analyse clothes so as to dress in a way that would allow them to communicate with other people but not to be recognised by a homophobic society. I think another aspect is that fashion is one of the so-called ‘artistic’ professions. And gays have been involved in a lot of those. Once gay people started to work in the fashion industry it started the beginnings of a more welcoming setting for other gays to enter into.” in an interview with ‘Dazed & Confused’.
Recently, there has been proliferate growth in non-binary clothing which specialize and accentuate fluid forms, eye-catching and bright colors and designs that obscure gender limitations.
In India after section 377 was decriminalized by the Supreme court the FDCI’s Lotus Makeup India Fashion week paid tribute to the queer community during the finale of its Summer 19’ edition, in which approximately 50 designer took inspiration from the pride flag. Various lables such as Bobo Calcutta, Huemn and Kallol Datta have drastically risen as well.
Considering many icons in the fashion industry were and are a part of the queer community it is only right to say that the whimsical arbitrariness of autocracy is what led to their oppression. The previous narrow-minded belief that fashion has to stick to a binary system is the root cause of their ever-so-ignorant lack of clear sight.
Queer fashion is about gender nonconformity. It’s limitless and does not follow any stern constitution. It’s lenient and is simply an extraordinarily beautiful way of expressing oneself. It’s about people representing themselves in their own unique way. The concept is far from being alienated from societal norms. It’s not an abnormality just because it contradicts certain beliefs. And it's about time that we started acting like it.