It’s no secret that fashion and queer culture have always been intertwined. Just think of some of fashion’s biggest names – Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Gianni Versace – they were all part of the LGBTQ+ community. And while many had to live in secrecy due to societal norms, a new wave of designers who are now able to be open and proud are celebrating their identities. They are bringing queer visibility into fashion from casting to the actual garments. In honour of pride month, we have compiled a list of our 6 favourite collections celebrating the LGBTQ+ community.
RAF SIMONS SPRING/SUMMER 2017
Simons paid homage to the gay community in his SS17 show, filled with graphic tees featuring homoerotic photographs taken by Robert Mapplethorpe. Known for his black and white photographs capturing his celebrity friends such as Patti Smith, self portraits, and nude photographs of both men and women, Mapplethorpe found success in the 80s. The photographer developed a style which often explores BDSM and kink culture, especially within the gay community. Simons, collaborating directly with the Robert Mapplethorpe Estate, created a frame for Mapplethorpe’s body of work, not only celebrating the late artist but also the bigger community he was a part of and was the subject of his art.
THOM BROWNE MENSWEAR SPRING/SUMMER 2018
Thom Browne reminds us that the LGBTQ+ community is not only about embracing sexualities but also gender identities in his SS18 collection. Exploring the idea of imposed gender notions from an early age, Browne takes inspiration from children’s clothes. The models were walking down the runway in shorts, skirts, sleeveless button ups and dresses, accompanied by Sally Porter’s Orlando soundtrack, a film known for its exploration of gender fluidity. The transgressive show was topped off by its centerpiece; a vitrine containing genderless baby mocassins dipped in gold. The pair was Browne’s own, as his family tradition consists of dipping each newborn’s first pair of shoes in gold. The designer took a personal story and turned it into a collection people worldwide could connect with.
HOOD BY AIR SPRING/SUMMER 2017
Set in a Parisian gay sauna, HBA’s SS17 was presented right before the brand’s hiatus. Enlisting a cast of diverse models – who really were performers – the show dives intro queer culture and sexuality, emphasized by the dark, smokey, red-lit room. Creative director Shayne Oliver uses PVC, leather, printed graphic and intricate cuts to create a sensual show – though the clothes were quickly taken off when the models jumped into the jacuzzi. To top off the sweaty sex-infused show, gender-bending artist Arca DJ-ed the show. Fearless and in-your-face, HBA gave life to a fantasy.
GMBH FALL/WINTER 2021
Founded by Serhat Isik and Benjamin Alexander Huseby, both part of the LGBTQ+ community, GmbH has always found its inspiration through personal identity. Its FW21 collection, showcased during lockdown season, gave us all a taste of the life that awaits us post-club reopening. Inspired by the Berlin club scene, this collection highlights the importance of nightlife to the queer community as a safe and welcoming place to express identity in any way, shape or form. As both creative directors aim to empower QPOC, this line explores activities “that have normally been seen as the preserve of wealthy white people”.
GRACE WALES BONNER SPRING/SUMMER 2018
While Grace Wales Bonner is known for her depiction of Black male identities, for her SS18 show, the designer wanted to showcase specifically a queer identity. Traditionally rejected in the Black community, Wales Bonner embraced queer Black culture and questions the idea of masculinity with a minimalist appraoch. The collection shows an array of tailored pieces and printed graphics from The Homoerotic Photography of Carl Van Vechten. She also took inspiration from James Baldwin’s 1956 novel Giovanni’s Room, which depicts the story of a man living in Paris who begins an affair with an Italian man, Giovanni. Just as the novel does, Wales Bonner weaves a complex story which dives deeper than the surface level aesthetics.
LUDOVIC DE SAINT SERNIN SPRING/SUMMER 2020
If someone knows how to tap into sexual desires devoid of labels for a collection, it’s Ludovic De Saint Sernin. Though, his SS20 is arguably his wildest collection to date, naturally titled Wet’n’Wild. The young designer vouches for gender expression and liberation, as models are seen walking down a conceptual pool on top of the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Sheer everything, the menswear and womenswear collection features risky cuts, a Swarovski crystal mesh bumster and a water-dampened white dress. Showstopping looks after looks, the collection received widespread support, notably from Ludovic’s close friend and collaborator Rick Owens and former boss Olivier Roustaing. When asked about the nakedness seen in his shoes, Ludovic simply answered “They’re healthy, beautiful, sexy people. Why shouldn’t they show it?”
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