“In Praise of Lesbian Chic: Conquering the Dyke Fashion Paradigm”
There has long existed a stereotype regarding the fashion abilities of lesbians: the mullet, cargo shorts, Teva sandals, poorly fitting pants suits etcetera. Rosie O’Donnell has continually embodied these stereotypes, and much to my chagrin, so has a large percentage of the lesbian population. Dykes are not known for our fashion senses. We instead have become known for a variety of other things, including power tools, awful tribal tattoos, Ellen Degeneres, Our Chart and scissoring. As the founding member of Model Lesbians (http://modellesbians.tumblr.com), I represent a small community of high fashion dykes, and I’m not talking about femmes or lipstick lesbians, to use the terms so popularized in culture today. We are often mistaken for straight fashionistas. We are the women who popularized chic undercuts, skinny jeans with patent leather wingtips, sexy flannel, fitted motorcycle jackets, Doc Martens and James Dean vibes minus the James. We are grrls, we are bois, we are young women with a taste for rock n’ roll, a penchant for sex appeal and an undying love for Alexander McQueen, may he rest in peace.
Over the last few seasons, our signature trends have stormed the runways, causing a disruption in the homo/hetero time space continuum. It is no longer a simple game of picking out fashionable lezzies based upon their innate sense of style and trendy haircuts; we must return to the long played game of checking girls fingernails or eavesdropping L-Word style to find one of our own. Despite our obvious contribution to fashion’s latest inspiration, we are no more acknowledged by the industry than Nanook of Nanook of the North was for inspiring Isaac Mizrahi’s Fall/Winter 1994 line. We must reclaim our style, our culture, our love, our passion, our lifeblood. Sure, it’s easy on the eyes to have Agyness Deyn parading around looking like one of us, but we all know she isn’t batting for our team, at least not yet. There is a secret power inherent in lesbian chic, one that has yet to be recognized by the masses. This is where our dominance lies. As we simply pass for straight in a world that has adopted our codes, we must fight for the public and the industry to realize our queerness, and the fact that we’re here, we’re queer, and their definitions of style were originally ours. We owe it to ourselves, to our gaydars, to the destruction of an over-arching lesbian stereotype, to be acknowledged.
It is our duty, as model lesbians, lesbian models, hipster dykes and purveyors of lesbian chic to establish ourselves as a force within the canon of high fashion. We are not trying to solve world peace, or to fight for total equality free of gender binaries, though that is part of what we’re about. We are the creators of modern androgyny, the wearers of Yves Saint Laurent’s seminal Le Smoking tuxedo suits, the authors of contemporary fashion that is steeped in sex and at the same moment highly functional. In the words of one of fashion’s most revered icons and influences, Coco Chanel, “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.” Us dykes have known this for decades, but it is only recently that the fashion industry as a whole has recognized the importance of comfort in fashion. And yet lesbian fashion stereotypes continue to plague us. Let’s show the world that fashion can be sexy and comfortable at the same time, that punk rock is back and we brought it. Let’s show fashion that the difference between Alexander Wang and Rag & Bone may be a subtle one, but one we can spot. Let’s turn the tables; it’s not about finding shelter or feeling ‘safe’ in looking straight. It’s about owning our gender and our sexuality and our love of fashion, without giving a fuck what anyone inside or outside of the industry thinks. We’re girls who walk just as well in Docs or Chucks as we do in Louboutins. We’re fashion fagettes and we’re taking over the runways of New York, London, Milan and Paris. So let’s wrangle the model lesbians like Freja, Cat McNeil, Milou, Myf, Nimue and even Abbey Lee (because you know, she likes people, not genders) and editors like Kate Lanphear and show fashion that as gay ladies, we not only epitomize the high fashion street style that has taken the world by storm, but we invented it. Because let’s be honest; we were made for fashion and fashion was made by us.