Queerture: Queer + Couture was the theme of the queer studies fashion conference held at UCLA October 14-15 where the fashion was just as awe-inspiring as the ideas and papers presented in the classrooms of Royce Hall on the gorgeous Los Angeles campus.
The conference united a sense of camaraderie by bringing together well-established queer scholars and writers such as Jack Halberstam, Michael Bronski, and Monica Miller along with other newly emerging yet equally as brilliant-minded queers who shared their graduate school dissertations with the audience.
The presentations were as broad in scope as the fashion of the participants and audience members. From butch avatar creations to gay physique magazines of the 1950s to Gaga feminism to Tim Gunn and the new queer dandy to gender presentation in black lesbian communities, the presentations sparked titillating discussion and showed promise for the future of queer fashion studies.
Even with such a large spectrum of topics presented, there remained one central theme among the conference, that clothing and appearance presentation is something that is anxiously navigated by individuals who do not neatly fit into our society’s prescribed delineation of gender.
Using fashion, clothing and appearance management, scholars exposed cultural anxieties about gender-blending and how heterosexual society leaves little room for the homosexual experience, even in places such as avatar creation in video games like Fable 2.
To close the conference, creative director Tania Hammidi organized a fashion show bringing together queer designers featuring lines with titles like; dapper dyke – vivian escalantes, femme fashion, muscle men, and sent packing. Hammidi’s message in the fashion show program speaks novels about the woes and triumphs of queer fashion through the years:
“Hankie codes, fit of jeans, and + are our historical legacies as peepls who query the border-lines of normative race/gender/sexualities. There remains violence against as well as celebrations of our desires and choices, based on clothing.
We’ve always dressed to impress and attract each other. We’ve often struggled to find ourselves reflected style-wise in the public media. We’re often left asunder and a-wonder, in the difficult processes of matching chosen sexual/gender-identities with shoe sizes, necklines, make-up, dress size, arm lengths, and shoulders. But thanks to designers, illustrators, and stylists such as you’ll see tonight, the dark days are over”.
I have never seen such confidence as I saw in the faces of the models walking down the runway; women in “enhancing” boxers and men in high heels and dresses. They looked so comfortable in their own skin as their fellow queers cheered them on from the crowd.
The models sporting the designs of queerture were of all shapes, sizes, and gender identities, sending out messages of hope with every stomp of a stiletto or pivot of a sneaker for future inclusive representation as designers such as those featured in this show continue to make lines of clothing for gender-bending individuals.
Originally seen in Outword Magazine (http://outwordmagazine.com/index.php/inside-outword/glbt-news/678-fashion-show-covers-the-gamut-from-dapper-dykes-to-muscle-men)