The LGBTQ+ community has an integral part to play within the fashion industry. Some of the world's leading designers and most well known brands are run by creative directors who identify as LGBTQ+ and these names may be much more obvious than we assume.
As it is LGBTQ+ History month we aim to recognise these figures as the revolutionaries they are within their practice. In many other industries members of the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to be paid less than their heterosexual cisgendered counterparts and more likely to be mistreated in the workplace. In the fashion industry we challenge this as some of our most well known and respected designers lead the way for other aspiring young LGBTQ+ fashionpreneurs.
The late Alexander McQueen (1969-2010) was extremely open about his sexuality, being a gay man, and how it affected his work. He was enthralled in the London gay scene and often used this as inspiration for his well known unorthodox collections and pieces. One of the most iconic was the ‘bumster’ which was first shown in his post graduate AW13 collection entitled ‘The Taxi Driver’.
McQueen also focused on the female form for many of his pieces. The ‘bumster’ was made to create an elongated sense of the body while the ‘A Gothic Mind’ collection used feminine silhouettes to deal with “a dark side of personality”. He created 10 inch heels known as ‘Armadillo shoes’ in his SS10 collection which were famously worn by highly recognised gay icon Lady Gaga in her 2010 Bad Romance music video.
Yves Saint Laurent
Yves Saint Laurent is largely known for being one of the first fashion houses to create a tuxedo shirt for women. This incorporated masculine tailoring into the likes of a feminine silhouette to create shirts that show female power and equality to men.
Before his untimely death in 2008, due to cancer, Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge were a popular gay couple in the fashion industry that doubled as art collectors. The successful documentary ‘L’Amour Fou’ was also inspired by their relationship.
Karl Lagerfeld is arguably one of the most recognised faces in fashion. The creative director for Chanel and Fendi can often be seen on the arm of Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of US Vogue, and helping design for the brands ready-to-wear collections. Lagerfeld, an established photographer and filmmaker, additionally directs all of Chanel’s image and film advertising.
Lagerfeld rarely speaks about his sexuality, but his relationship with Jacques de Bascher lasted 18 years and was revealed throughout the book ‘The Beautiful Fall’ and film ‘Yves Saint Laurent’. It is said that Bascher was a muse to Lagerfeld and inspired much of his work before they both went separate ways and he passed due to AIDS in 1989.
Tom Ford, the successful fashion designer, is a contemporary innovator within the industry. His brand varies from high end collections to more affordable makeup and home accessories. Ford himself branches from the founder of his own brand, to having been the creative director for both Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci, to film director and producer of extremely popular titles such as Nocturnal Animals and A Single Man.
Ford has never been one to hide his sexuality. His marriage to fashion journalist Richard Buckley has lasted over 30 years and according to Ford it was a classic case of “love at first sight”. In 2015, Tom Ford released a new lipstick collection entitled ‘Lips & Boys’. Each lipstick was named after a man he admires or who has influenced his life in some way. These vary from musicians and actors, to his husband and son, to his first ever crush.
Written by Georgia Megan