Fashion and Gays: An Exploration in New York

9.27.2013

By Nicholas Cimarusti

"A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk" at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology is a sartorial-lovers' dream.

Fashion has long been an important means of expression for LGBT people. The recently opened "A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk" at The Museum at FIT displays a visual catalog of the styles that have defined queer culture, from the 18th-century to modern couture.

Curated by Fred Dennis, senior curator of costume, and Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT, the exhibition took two years of research and collection to complete. Visitors are taken on a three century-long exploration of the influence of LGBT designers and icons on fashion, both mainstream and subculture. Nearly every scene and style imaginable is exhibited: dandyism, androgyny, street style, drag, punk, leather and every other trend in which the LGBT community has lent a hand.

"This is about honoring the gay and lesbian designers of the past and present," Dennis says in a statment. "By acknowledging their contributions to fashion, we want to encourage people to embrace diversity." Of particular interest is the attention paid to the progression of styles before and after pivotal events in LGBT history, such as Stonewall and the AIDS outbreak.

The exhibition aims to show visitors that the LGBT community has played an instrumental role in the development and creation of fashion and thus society as a whole. In keeping with the central messag, that gay rights are human rights, a section for gay wedding fashion concludes the exhibition.

"A Queer History of Fashion" runs until Jan. 4, 2014, at The Museum at FIT. Click here for more info.

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