What do glitter, camp fashion, and pearl necklaces on men have in common? They are all pioneered by queer fashion icons. You can’t appreciate fashion without the LGBTQ+ people that were brave enough to express themselves through their fashion choices. Using clothing to articulate their identities, you can’t talk about the history of fashion without acknowledging the impact of queer people. Below are just a few of some queer fashion icons that impacted fashion and, no, Harry Styles is decidedly not on this list.
- Little Richard
Little Richard pioneered gender-fluid clothing and men wearing makeup. His work has influenced the fashion we see with Harry Styles and Prince. He embraced his attractive looks and broke masculine gender norms during the ‘50s and ‘60s. Defying mainstream men’s fashion, Little Richard encouraged flamboyance in rock n’ roll. He influenced stars such as Jimmi Hendrix, Prince, Elton John, and now Harry Styles.
- Freddy Mercury
Freddy Mercury popularized the androgynous style that we see today during the 1970s and 1980s. Previously to his impact, traditional gender binaries were expressed in fashion statements. Due to his fashion, colorful jackets and heels became mainstream. He brought fashion from underground gay clubs to popular fashion.
Self titled, “The Queen of Drag,” RuPaul is the face of drag queens across the nation. Drag has contributed to the recent fashion trend of “camp,” by being extravagant and over-the-top. The popularity of pearl necklaces for men came from many drag queens using pearls as statement jewelry pieces. They have encouraged experiencing more against the conservative nature of men’s fashion and blurred strict gender binary lines in fashion.
- Yves Saint Laurent
A very well-known fashion designer, Saint Laurent was very openly gay. In 1966, he created Le Smoking — a tuxedo for women. It went far beyond the typical gender binaries of the time and created an androgynous look that pioneered the workplace style that we see today. As non-binary fashion becomes increasingly popular, we have to pay tribute to those that were brave enough to pioneer these looks.