Who Made Those Fabulous Duds?

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A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk
Exhibition: The Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology)
Curated by Fred Dennis and Valerie Steele

 

Queer History of FashionA Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk
Edited by Valerie Steele
Yale.  248 pages, $50.

 

FRED DENNIS, senior curator of costumes at the Fashion Institute of Technology, originated the idea of looking at the fashion industry through a queer lens to establish the centrality of gay creativity to the fashion industry since the 19th century. The result is an exhibition that sets out to document the contribution of gay men and lesbians to fashion over this nearly two-century time frame, both in their capacity as fashion designers and as trend-setters who wore designs that were avant-garde for their time.

      Garments designed by Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Halston, Alexander McQueen, and Jean Paul Gaultier are high art. These designs are living embodiments of their theories about bodies interacting with one another in society and culture. These designers are justly celebrated for their ability to capture and break gender conformity for men and women. How they were able to move forward is a measure of their creativity. To figure out what these artists were up to conceptually, one has to go behind the superficial glitz of the commercial fashion scene that is the stage on which they strutted their stuff.

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