New York Fashion Week: The LGBTQ+ runway

Jana Ismail
Senior Staff Writer

dapperQ’s R/evolution. Credits: dapperQ.

Inclusivity and diversity are two of the main issues that fashion struggles to succeed in. Historically, it has lacked in both areas. However, over the last few years, fashion week has evolved little by little to incorporate a more diverse range of models.

Designers have started to break away from the usual “one size fits all” mentality that used to define the fashion industry. Fashion week has evolved to include shows that reflect the diversity of society at large.

From designers like Christian Siriano and Michael Costello featuring plus-size models to organizing LGBTQ-centered shows, the fashion industry has finally started to mirror the state of mind that reflects that of 21st century society.

At the head of this wave of change are the people themselves. Fashion consumers are the ones pushing to be included, and if they do not find what they were looking for, they create the opportunity for themselves.

One example would be that of DapperQ–a queer style and empowering online platform specifically designed for masculine-presenting women and trans people. Helmed by Anita Dolce Vita, DapperQ has received abundant praise from popular media outlets, including the New York Times.

The New York Fashion Week of September 2013 was witness to the first LGBTQ fashion runway. The show revolves around showcasing the talent of queer designers and models and is considered the biggest LGBTQ runway show of the year. Each year, the show focuses on a particular theme.

Credits: dapperQ.

This year’s fourth annual fashion show was held on September 14 at the Brooklyn Museum, as per usual. It revolved around the theme of “R/Evolution”. It derives from a play on “the constant evolution of queer style as its own aesthetic, its revolutionary roots and its power to be leveraged as a tool for resistance,” said Dolce Vita.

This event is as much about politics as it is about the fashion. This year’s theme was a reaction to the attacks of Trump’s new administration on the LGBTQ community.

“‘R/Evolution’ is an act of defiance. It is our space to stay visible in the face of attempts at erasure,” Dolce Vita explained.

“It is a declaration of existence in spite of attempts at erasure. It is a celebration of our beauty in the face of constant messages declaring our unworthiness. It is our armor. It is our shine. It is our resilience.”

The event was opened by Gabby Rivera, the creator of Marvel’s lesbian Latina comic. She described her relationship with fashion as full of “shame and awkwardness.” She was then followed by a presentation of the clothes of 10 different designers: Audio Helkuik, Nicole Wilson, Bindle & Keep, Clio Sage, Kris Harring, Sir New York, SDN Brooklyn, Stuzo, The Tailory New York, and TomboyX + Clear Coated.

In their designs, the designers straddled the line between feminine and masculine, erasing the concept of a gender binary. For these designers, their clothes have an underlying political message.

Year after year, this show has come out of the shadows, but it has yet to achieve full mainstream status. However, with the increasing acceptance in the fashion industry, one can only hope that such shows will be displayed center stage in the future.

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