A Queer History of Fashion
From the Closet to the Catwalk

Edited by Valerie Steele
(Read a review by Out Smart Magazine!)

From Christian Dior to Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, many of the greatest fashion designers of the past century have been gay. Fashion and style have played an important role within the LGBTQ community, as well, even as early as the 18th century. This provocative book looks at the history of fashion through a queer lens, examining high fashion as a site of gay cultural production and exploring the aesthetic sensibilities and unconventional dress of LGBTQ people, especially since the 1950s, to demonstrate the centrality of gay culture to the creation of modern fashion.

Contributions by some of the world’s most acclaimed scholars of gay history and fashion – including Christopher Breward, Shaun Cole, Vicki Karaminas, Jonathan D. Katz, Peter McNeil, and Elizabeth Wilson – investigate topics such as the context in which key designers’ lives and works form part of a broader “gay” history; the “archeology” of queer attire back to the homosexual underworld of 18th-century Europe; and the influence of LGBTQ subcultural styles from the trouser suits worn by Marlene Dietrich (which inspired Yves Saint Laurent’s “Le Smoking”) to the iconography of leather. Sumptuous illustrations include both fashion photography and archival imagery.

TABLE OF CONTENTS – click links for PDF essay previews

7.    Valerie Steele / a queer history of fashion: from the closet to the catwalk
77.  Peter Mcneil / conspicuous waist: queer dress in the “long eighteenth century”
117. Christopher Breward / couture as queer auto/biography
135. Shaun Cole / queerly visible: gay men, dress, and style 1960–2012 
167. Elizabeth Wilson / what does a lesbian look like? 
193. Vicki Karaminas / born this way: lesbian style since the eighties 
219. Jonathan D. Katz / queer activist fashion 

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Published by Yale University Press
248 pages
100 color illustrations
ISBN: 9780300196702
Release date: Oct 29, 2013