Les Masculines, 1922

I feel terrible for forgetting where I got this image.  It was recently, too.  So I apologize to whomever I took this from for not crediting you.

This is from the French fashion periodical Gazette du Bon Ton (Currently there is an exhibit at Kent University Museum, ending May 30, 2010).

What I love is that the women have adopted riding clothes as their masculine-styled costume.  This makes sense.  Since the 18th century, women’s riding habits had been the first type of clothing to consistently borrow from male costume.  These women in 1922 would have been shocking, but not nearly as shocking as if they had worn everyday male dress.

Gazette du Bon Ton, 1922

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Irina Lazareanu and Freja Beha Erichsen in Elle, May 2008

Elle. May 2008

I spent much of my two years in the Costume Studies MA at NYU flipping through 80 years of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, so I can tell you with absolute certainty that the big fashion mags don’t give queers even a cursory glance.  Sure, an occasional nod for bringing trucker hats and boy’s suits for girls to The Fashion Community, but that’s about it.

That is what makes this image so astonishing.  Two women.  Hot queer women.  In a fashion spread.  Kissing. And enjoying it.

Bravo to Elle, it’s about f$%*ing time.  Now let’s get some articles on queer fashion.  Perhaps they should take a cue from DapperQ.

Chanel, Fall 2009-2010

Fall 2009/10 season

Fall 2009/10 season

The way the woman on the left is grasping the lapel of the woman on the right seems intimate, to me. Their faces are too close together for them to be friends. I think they have been together for a long while.

This is scanned from a recent issue of New York Magazine.

Versace, 1981

Long before lesbian imagery was accepted in pop culture, fashion photographers published in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar got away with publishing suggestive photographs of women together. Who was the photographer who denied that there was any lesbian implication, he just wanted to be able to photograph two dresses at the same time?

This image is from a March 1981 Versace advertising campaign.  I got it from a New York Times video slideshow on Richard Avedon.   The International Center of Photography in Manhattan will have an exhibit of Avedon’s work on display from May 15-Sept 6, 2009.

Photographed by Richard Avedon

Photographed by Richard Avedon

1971: “What Gay Women Wear” [part 1]

My friend Suzanne found this amazing article in a magazine called Rags, in the March 1971 issue.  Rags was based in San Francisco and NYC, and was, perhaps, the Nylon of its day.   I could be way off on that comparison.  In any case it’s pretty hip.

Pp. 20-21
What Gay Women Wear by Mary Jean Haley/Photos by Candy Freeland

If neither you nor your friends are gay, you can be forgiven for retaining the stereotyped image of the Gay Woman as the middle-aged person in the iron grey ducktail and tailored dark suit who startled the life out of you when she walked into the ladies/mens room.

But this stereotype simply does not fit the liberated gay women I recently interviewed.

Young gay women have discovered both gay liberation and women’s liberation, and they are asserting themselves as women — beautiful gay women.  They want no part of male-female, oppression-submission roles.  Don’t want to look like men.  Do want to look like the women they are.

“Ten years ago,” says Nancy, who claims no last name, “most butchy women wore men’s clothing exclusively.  People’s image of gay women is mostly these amazing old bull dykes.”  Nancy, who explains that “last names are all men’s, so I don’t have one of my own,” is wearing tailored women’s slacks and a pink shirt over a brown turtleneck.

This difference — between men’s clothes and women’s slacks — is more subtle than, say, the difference between men’s slacks and women’s skirts.  To Dixie McMills, a postal worker, it isn’t so much the mode of dress as the times that have changed.

“We’re still wearing men’s clothes,” she says.  “Ten years ago they would wear men’s suit jackets, loafers with white sox [sic], crap like that.  Now everybody else is wearing men’s clothes.”

These gay women have gathered in Wanda Van Dusen’s living room, at her Berkeley home to talk with Rags about the clothes they wear.

“At school,” says Wanda, a UC Berkeley graduate student, “I just look like another radical student.”  This, she thinks, is because the hip movement and street fashions have freed gay people like they have freed everybody else.

“We’re breaking down the old butch-femme roles which mimic heterosexual society,” says Susan Walsh, a San Francisco furniture finisher and self-described funky dresser.  “We’re getting through all those layers and becoming real.”

“Visually,” Wanda responds, ” there are no significant patterns in the way gay women look.  They tend to dress according to the society they live in.  In the straight world they’ll wear high heels and stockings.  Many gay women in LA are overdressed.  They reflect the rampant consumerism that predominates here.”

to be continued…