Never mind Fashion Week, if you want to see historically powerful design, up close and personal and totally for free, head to FIT this weekend. Today, The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology launches an unprecedented new exhibit, "A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk," which breaks new ground for the LGBTQ fashion community. Believe it or not, this is the first official museum installation to examine fashion culture through a specifically "queer" lens, even though most of the greatest artisans of the design community have indeed identified as some version of LGBTQ.
The usual legendary suspects are included in the 100 ensembles displayed, with high-caliber works from Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, John Galliano and Jean Paul Gaultier making notable appearances. But it's not only infamous runway looks "A Queer History" explores. There's interesting anthropology at play, with the first part of the exhibition examining three centuries of LGBTQ expression, starting with the cross-dressing "mollies" and "fops" of the 1700s—the fantastic proto-dandies of their era. Other historical milestones honor Oscar Wilde's wide-ranging sartorial adventures, Marlene Dietrich's brilliant men's suits, gender-bending punk aesthetics, activism in fashion during the AIDS epidemic, and the style culture surrounding gay weddings today.
FIT's Director and Chief Curator, Valerie Steele, in collaboration with Fred Dennis, have been planning "A Queer History" for years, but given recent legal victories for the LGBTQ community, it feels particularly kismet for this exhibit be unveiled now. A Queer History of Fashion" runs from September 13th through January 4th.