GBC Spring Collection: DKNY vs LGBT
The fashion industry has long served as the place where we the public look towards for the latest trends, the popular brands, ideal body type and definitions of beauty. It has had massive influence in changing attitudes in society, including people’s attitudes towards the LGBT community.
The fashion industry has traditionally been accepting of openly gay men. Designer and actress, Tara Subkoff, went as far as to accuse the fashion industry of being ‘a gay man’s profession.’
The world’s top (gay) designers include Karl Lagerfeld (Creative Director of Chanel brand) Tom Ford and the gay couple’s golden fashion Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana (Founder of the brand Dolce & Gabbana)… Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein, Gianni Versace, Valentino Garavani, Giorgio Armani, the father of surprising designs Alexander McQueen, John Galliano – Dior’s current leader and Marc Jacob (creative director of Louis Vuitton).
Some claim that when it comes to the fashion industry, this is one sector where gay men are overrepresented. This is possibly because the fashion industry was one place where a gay man could be respected and expect to be promoted based on his talent without encountering prejudice, more so than in other industries. And now… Yves Saint Laurent, famous for his many creative designs; is cited by almost every other leading designer as their idol and Marc Jacobs, according to Out magazine’s poll, is ranked eighth in the top 50 gay characters to affect the world in 2007.
These designers are always looking for new ways to be different, and the latest craze to hit the fashion world has been designers going for transgender and androgynous models. Ford model’s has signed Casey Legler, a 35-year-old androgynous woman with a razor-sharp jaw-line and a cropped hair cut to model menswear. This trend started with Lea T, a transsexual model who became the face of Givenchy – physically male when she started modelling – made the cover of Elle and was soon pictured snogging Kate Moss for Love magazine. Then came Andrej Pejic. This Bosnian was soon modelling women’s clothes for designers including Jean Paul Gaultier. Legler told Time that Pejic’s success has opened the door for models cross-dressing: ‘We have very strict ways in which we identify ourselves as men or women and I think that those can sometimes be limiting.’
Is the fashion industry finally starting to accept different forms of beauty such as androgyny and becoming more accepting of transgender people? Some pundits are sceptical and see this as the latest craze to show eccentricity, uniqueness and add shock value. After all, the runway is full of models that could be blown away by a gust of strong wind. Whatever their reasons the fashion industry’s use of transgender, androgynous and cross-dresser models has softened strict gender roles, and many have now become fashion icons. Societal norms from the 50/60s where everyone dressed and looked homogenous are over. The fashion industry has also helped provide a broadened definition of what a man should be, now ranging from the masculine to the metrosexual, ushering in the era of gelled hair, tans, manbags, guyliner and meggins.
When it comes to the fashion scene gay men have long had a large presence as designers. The runways however, still largely look the same. But there’s hope yet, designers are starting to change the game by using non-traditional models. Some people see this as the latest trend to add shock value, whatever the reasons for the sudden change the fashion industry is sending clear signals that androgyny is ‘in’ and gender roles are ‘so last year’.
By Natasha Holder