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Pride Month: The Impact of Queer Culture on Fashion

by Alisha Bissessur

Pride Month provides an opportunity to celebrate and honour the LGBTQIA+ community, whose creativity and non-conformist perspectives have profoundly shaped the fashion industry. 

Join us as we delve into the rich history, struggles, and triumphs of queer culture, and how it continues to inspire and transform the contemporary fashion landscape.

Fashion owes a significant debt to queer culture, which has been instrumental in shaping mainstream media for as long as we can remember. We explore the inseparable relationship between queer culture and fashion, emphasising how the LGBTQIA+ movement has challenged societal norms and championed diversity in the industry.

From all the catwalks, ateliers, stylists, and big personalities, the queer community has continuously raised the bar of what fashion is, and how it will be transformed. Stand-out designer names most certainly include Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and Simone Jacquemus among a plethora of others. A multitude of renowned queer designers have redefined the industry. 

Their revolutionary designs and unapologetic self-expression have paved the way for a new generation of queer fashion trailblazers.

Christian Dior, the ‘Designer of Dreams, invented the look of cinched waists in the 50s, revolutionised the fashion industry (look at the prevalence of coached waists looks now!) all whilst incorporating his mother’s traditional love for flowers in his personal work. 

Yves Saint Laurent used his designs to rebel against heteronormative fashion conventions, inspiring celebrity ‘it girls; through his influential work. 

Despite being relics of the past, we need to recognise that their work has paved the way for novel queer fashion namesakes to continue to fill the world with pops of colour.  Simone Jacquemus, the 32 luxury fashion designer, highlights how crucial LCBTQ+ visibility is, openly calling out homophobes on  social media. The creativity of our everyday wear, was most likely birthed by a member of the queer designer.

Drag culture has had a profound impact on beauty and makeup trends, enabling individuals to embrace their true selves without fear of judgment. 

Think about your daily makeup routine if you have one. Do you apply a smidge of highlighter on your nose for extra shine, or do you prefer a smokey look to accentuate the colour of your eyes? Those are just two mere examples of the techniques drag queens use. 

Throughout the course of history, makeup has proved to be critical tool for expression in fashion. With makeup, one can showcase their true selves without fear of judgement from a heteronormative society. Going back to the 2010s and the surge of online MUAs, queer people have found real estate in beauty influencer spaces. 

Through YouTube tutorials, Queer MUAs found a loyal audience of fellow members of the LGBTQIA+ space. Nikkie de Jager (@nikkietutorials) is one of many who have found success through media. Nikkie, an out and proud trans woman, has now racked up over 1 Billion views and has her own collection with Too Faced. Indeed, there is so much to learn from drag culture when it comes to beauty. 

From șelf-expression to experimentation, makeup grants you the power to so. Drag queens allow you to embrace your individuality unapologetically. Famous makeup artists, like Pat McGrath (known for her eye looks in Valentino), continue to attribute her success to drag artistes. You cannot deny their influence in the beauty industry. Queer identity has indeed made its fair share of impact on mainstream fashion.

Queer perspectives have shattered the limitations of gender norms in fashion, giving rise to a powerful gender-fluid movement. We explore how figures like Jaden Smith, Harry Styles, and Kristen Stewart have fearlessly embraced androgynous fashion, encouraging others to express their authentic selves. 

Fashion has become a tool of empowerment, allowing individuals to break free from societal expectations and embrace their unique style.

While Pride Month is a time to celebrate queer culture, we must also address the pitfalls of its commercialization by brands. We discuss the need for genuine support and respect for LGBTQIA+ rights, rather than simply capitalizing on a culture attaining mainstream acceptance. By erasing rigid boundaries, fashion can foster creativity and offer authentic representation to marginalised communities.

Queer culture's impact on the fashion industry cannot be overstated. As we celebrate Pride Month, let us recognize and honor the vibrant creativity, inclusivity, and cultural richness that queer influences bring to fashion. By supporting queer voices and embracing diversity, we can continue to shape a fashion landscape that authentically represents and celebrates all individuals.

Edited by Emily Duff

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