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From Fashion to Art: We Celebrate the Pioneering LGBT+ Community


As February kicks off a month long celebration and awareness of the LGBT+ community, we take a look at the long established LGBT+ history within the fashion industry…

While we are all unique individuals whatever our sexual orientation there is no denying that there has been, and is, an established presence with the fashion industry and the LGBTQ community. A good look at the industry’s leading designers, magazine editors, stylists, photographers, make-up artists and more just goes to confirm this.

From LFWM for SS18

During this past month we have had to say farewell and RIP to fashion journalist, stylist, creative director, and editor-at-large of Vogue magazine – André Leon Talley and the iconic French fashion designer Thierry Mugler. Both of which were completely open about their sexuality and conveyed their own sense of personal style outside of conventional norms. This is where fashion comes into its own, as a place of freedom to experiment and present new ideas.

Throughout history the LGBTQ community has consistently been present in fashion. Back in 2013 the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) presented – A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk. 

A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk by Valerie Steele accompanying book

Exhibition curators Fred Dennis, senior curator of costume, and Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT, spent two years researching and curating the exhibition. They worked with an advisory committee of eminent scholars to create this pioneering exhibition that explored the significant contributions to fashion made by LGBTQ individuals. Featuring 100 ensembles, spanning across 300-years (the earliest from the 18th century) the intention was to honour LGBTQ designers of the past and present.

A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk was very well received and picked up three significant awards. The exhibition also highlighted how ‘hidden’ these individuals were and that it has only been over the last three or four decades that designers have felt able to be open and forthcoming about their culture and identity.

Acceptance and embracement of diversity is now more prevalent than ever before, although, many would argue that we  still have a long way to go. The idea that beauty is only within certain narrow constraints now seems old and this has opened the door to models all shapes, sizes, ages and genders. 

Additionally over the last few decades the concept of gender-neutral style or gender-fluidity has evolved, stepping away from what to wear according to your sex. Fashion shows, editorials and campaigns have provided that first stepping stone platform into the mainstream. In 2020 the British Fashion Council announced that London Fashion Week Men’s would now be an all-inclusive and genderless 3-day event, highlighting the question ‘do we need separate events targeting different genders anymore?’

Now in 2022 there is a real sense of freedom of expression that is pushing forward where no dressing rules apply, and the fashion industry provides the perfect platform to do just that!

1st February marks the start LGBT+ History Month in the UK. The overall aim is to promote equality and diversity for the benefit of the public. 

This year’s theme is Politics In Art: ‘The Arc Is Long’. 2022 sees the 50th anniversary of the very first Pride March in the UK in 1972. A popular slogan of the early Gay Rights Movement of the time was “the personal is political” and art is probably the most individual of pastimes. Organisers have therefore selected art as the key theme, selecting five artists (one each to represent the L,G,B,T and ‘+’ of the community) who had used their talents for “political” ends, or expressed their orientation through their work.

To find out more about LGBT+ History Month and the many events taking place all over the UK tap here.




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