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  • Ryoma Deiss

The Influence of LGBTQ+ Culture on Fashion and Design

© Paris Is Burning

Celebrating diversity and redefining style: queer culture's impact on creative expression.

Fashion and design have always been means for self-expression and cultural exploration. Over the years, LGBTQ+ culture has played a significant role in shaping trends, styles, and creative expressions within these industries. Queer aesthetics, histories, and subcultures have left a lasting mark, infusing fashion with diversity, inclusivity, and a celebration of individuality. Join me as I delve into the profound influence of queer culture on fashion and design, exploring the ways it has transformed the industry and increased visibility.

Historical Influences

From subcultures to mainstream - The ballroom scene of the 1980s and '90s, popularised by the documentary "Paris Is Burning", and the television series "Pose", introduced the world to the art of voguing, which, in turn, influenced high fashion and dance. The punk and grunge movements of the '70s and '90s, with their rebellious attitudes and DIY aesthetics, have also left a lasting mark on fashion, embracing queer and non-conformist identities. These historical influences continue to inspire designers and creatives today, infusing fashion with a sense of rebellion, authenticity, and inclusivity.

Queer Aesthetics

© Billy Porter via Instagram

LGBTQ+ culture has challenged traditional notions of gender, beauty and style and redefined the meaning of being fashionable. Queer aesthetics have inspired designers to push boundaries, blur gender lines, and experiment with new forms of expression. By embracing androgyny, fluidity, and non-binary identities, fashion has become a platform for the LGBTQ+ community to communicate their unique experiences and perspectives. From icons like Marlene Dietrich and David Bowie to modern-day fashion trailblazers such as Harry Styles and Billy Porter, these pioneers have paved the way for a more inclusive and expansive understanding of fashion and design.

Redefining Fashion

© Rick Owens via Instagram

LGBTQ+ designers are redefining fashion as they challenge heteronormative ideals, showcasing the power of queer narratives and aesthetics. Designers such as Raf Simons, Rick Owens and Alessandro Michele, when he was creative designer at Gucci, have incorporated LGBTQ+ themes into their collections to promote diversity and celebrate queer identities. Their designs often challenge traditional gender norms, featuring fluid silhouettes, and vibrant colours that celebrate individuality and self-expression.

Fashion as Activism

In addition to all the above, fashion and design have become powerful tools for activism and promoting LGBTQ+ visibility. Many fashion brands and organisations actively support LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity initiatives by using their platforms to raise awareness and advocate for change. Collaborations between designers and LGBTQ+ advocacy groups have resulted in impactful campaigns and collections, promoting acceptance and challenging discrimination. However, I think it is important to point out that one can wonder if some brands are just using these support campaigns as a rainbow-washing marketing strategy. Nevertheless, the fashion industry's support for Pride Month has also been instrumental in fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment for the LGBTQ+ community.

The influence of LGBTQ+ culture on fashion and design cannot be understated. The impact ranges from pushing the boundaries of traditional aesthetics to challenging societal norms and advocating for inclusivity and acceptance. Moving forward, it is crucial for designers, stylists, and fashion industry insiders to actively incorporate LGBTQ+ perspectives into their work. This can be achieved through collaborations, partnerships, and amplifying queer voices. By doing so, the industry can create a positive impact, challenge prejudices, and inspire a new generation of fashion enthusiasts to embrace their true selves.

Nonetheless, it is important to acknowledge that there is still work to be done. While progress has been made, there is a need for continued advocacy and support for LGBTQ+ rights within the fashion and design industries. This includes promoting diverse representation on runways, in campaigns, and behind the scenes, as well as fostering an inclusive and safe working environment for LGBTQ+ professionals. Through their unique perspectives, LGBTQ+ individuals have reshaped the industry, making it more diverse, fluid, and representative of the world we live in. The continued inclusion and celebration of LGBTQ+ culture within fashion and design will undoubtedly contribute to a more accepting and inclusive society overall.


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