Mid-April 2015 saw the inaugural event of Queer Fashion Week in Oakland, California. One might ask, “What’s the point of such an event given how many of today’s prominent fashion designers are openly gay?”
Christine De La Rosa (better known as Miz Chris to the LGBT community), the event’s co-founder, says “I think the question provides the answer.”
Speaking to SF Weekly, she explained, “There may be many gay male models and designers, not many who are out, but there are also many designers and models that belong to the L, B, T and Q in the LGBTQ, and that’s why Queer Fashion Week is needed.”
As Queer Fashion Week’s About page notes, De La Rosa “is one of the preeminent producers of queer events in the US. Having produced butchLYFE alongside the What is Butch? Movement for over 600 queers in the Bay Area last year, she saw the need to move beyond a singular fashion show and create an entire WEEK full of fabulousity.
“The mission of Queer Fashion Week is to showcase designers, hairstylists and makeup artists who are creating fashion for all types of bodies and genders.”
The event took place in Oakland, California from April 16-19, bringing together over two dozen LGBT designers.
Accessories, evening wear, lingerie, outdoor wear, street clothing, and more were included in the fashion categories seen during Queer Fashion Week’s runway debut, showcasing pieces made for all bodies, genders, and orientations.
In an interview with LGBT Weekly, De La Rosa added that the designers’ fashions “translate to anybody who wants to wear their styles. They are not only designers that are designing for queer people, they are designers who just happen to be queer.”
She emphasized that she wants to make this an annual event, just like countless other fashion weeks taking place in other parts of the world.
The effort is also a catalyst for equality—as Ham Darly, a designer born in Uganda who now lives in the Bay Area, pointed out to SF Weekly, “We need more queer fashion shows so that the top designers can see us and help us to promote our talents. The world needs to know how talented queer people are.”
Queer Fashion Week is relevant for the models too, as many are forced to stay in the closet in major fashion houses if they want to work the runway. In contrast, at the Oakland event, models are encouraged to be themselves and be proud.
Darly added, “I think it will change our image with the homophobic communities. They will stop focusing on our sexuality and start thinking about how talented we are, how we can develop ourselves, and how we can contribute to the economy.”
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