Initially the desire to create beautiful things may have been born in reaction to dealing with a homophobic society (which has changed to become much more accepting). Thank goodness because what kind of clothing would we be wearing otherwise? And let’s face it, who can teach us all about accessorizing more than a gay man? Who gets noticed more, likes to celebrate more and really knows how to strut their stuff? All in fun it’s hard to keep a straight face!““A Queer History of Fashion – From the Closet to the Catwalk” is a new exhibition at the FIT Museum in New York. The fascinating show curated by Fred Dennis and the museum’s director, Valerie Steele, spans more than three centuries of gayness. It includes 100 looks that chronicle the community’s experiments in hiding and flaunting and outdoing itself in all sorts of aesthetic ways. The show also explores the flip-side of gay fashion: masculine women.Teaser – a little bit of history:
Drag queens, often the leaders of the gay pride parade, will, fittingly, also kick off the show. Similar to the 18th-century mollies, who dressed up to go out to private parties and taverns (called molly houses), running the risk of arrest.
In the oppressive 50’s, most gay men tried to blend in and be invisible, unless at a club at night. But what a difference a decade makes. The 60’s seemed to make everyone bold and flamboyant. The gays embraced the mod, hippie, disco and punk movements. And then of course, there was Liberace. The exhibition includes one of the performer’s pink sequined capes trimmed with marabou feathers – you know, just a little something to dazzle the crowds with. And nobody knew he was gay??
There is a section of the exhibition devoted to the work of designers who died of AIDS, like Halston and Perry Ellis, plus a sampling of AIDS-activism T-shirts bedecked with clever slogans and graphics.
For the really daring, the curators have included a Jean-Paul-Gaultier skirt-pant look from his 1984 menswear collection. The lender said he always felt very masculine wearing it. It would not be complete without the cone-bra corset dress like the one famously worn by Madonna.
The show ends on an elegant note, with his-and-his and hers-and-hers wedding ensembles.