Fashion is finally becoming celebrated in a way where we fully embrace personal style regardless of identity - and appreciate fashion for what it is - a creative form of art that we wear on our bodies as a means of positive self-expression! The progress we have made in recent years, with the decline of outdated, societal and conformative gender norms has been monumental. However, society never would have made this progress without the gay, queer and LGBTQ+ icons who have pushed and continue to do so, as the shape shifters and movement makers who have broken the boundaries within not only the fashion world but within the creative industries and global attitudes as a whole! In this blog, we celebrate legendary LGBTQ+ icons not only for pride month but as monumental figures who should be paid homage to every day for their legacies within the fashion and creative world.
Source: British Vogue
Freddie Mercury, is not only known as an icon within the music world as 1/4 of the legendary band Queen, but for his style and creative legacy that has continued to inspire people across the world after his passing! From inspiring the likes of Lady Gaga to David Bowie, Freddie's star power and fashion status truly iconic! Freddie's style was a constant cycle of reinvention where he explored so many different fashion realms, from his passion for theatrics to military style fits to experimenting with taking flamboyant dressing to the next level - his dressing broke boundaries. Mercury was also partial to drag, and in the video to Queen’s legendary 'I want to break free', track (1984) Mercury donned female pin-up clothing - a black leather skirt and pink accessories. This song became synonymous within the LGBTQ+ community and became a mantra and anthem to live by! The 80's were an incredibly divided and challenging time for the LGBTQ+ community, but Mercurys' embrace of drag and disregard for gender binaries inspired many across the world and shone a light on the beauty of self-expression.
RuPaul & Diana Ross / Source: Billboard
RuPaul is one of the most famous Drag Queens in America and at global icon status, it is notable how he has not only had an impact on the LGBTQ+ community but within mainstream society and popular culture today. RuPaul is best known for his show RuPauls Drag Race, drag reality contestant show that acts as 'a show in drag' based on America's Next Top Model and Project Runway. However, he has been in the limelight for quite some time, first rising to fame with the hit song 'Supermodel' in the early 1990s.
From the fashion we wear, to the words we say (from 'spill the tea' to 'serving'), to the music we play, his influence is deeply woven into mainstream society.
RuPaul is noted for his breathtaking, extravagant gowns, 'snatched' makeup looks and bright coloured and statement dressing. He is not only seen as a fashion icon to the contestants in the show, but an LGBTQ+ fashion legend never fails to give that 'extra' wow factor! Not only has he showcased numerous incredible outfits, but his show has shone a light on so many influential high-fashion queens such as Violet Chachki and Bimini Bon Boulash who have helped shape drag culture! Plus fashion divas who are huge inspirations within the LGBTQ+ community such as Naomi Campbell, Cher & Xtina have all appeared as guest judges on the show.
Iconic British glam rock star, David Bowie was known for his exploration of fashion through alter egos such as 'Ziggy Stardust' his alien, androgynous alter ego donning a red bob, tight striped bodysuit which cemented his queer fashion icon status. Bowie came out just 5 years after the UK decriminalised being gay (he later released various other statements later in life surrounding his sexuality), but regardless of his sexuality, he pioneered androgynous, camp styling in a period when the world really needed this! His cover of 'Aladdin Sane' saw Bowie's iconic lightning bolt makeup which is still referenced and recognised today as a stellar style moment!
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Fashion titan and mogul Tom Ford has had a monumental influence on not only luxury but has shaped the fashion we wear today, and his brand is synonymous with being sexy, minimalist and clean lines that can be spotted a mile off! However, before even starting his self-named brand, he revived Gucci by introducing sleek ready-to-wear that breathed a new lease of life into the Italian powerhouse of a brand. However, on deciding to leave and start Tom Ford, his brand has gone on to dress and style some of the most influential celebrities in the world, from Rihanna, Beyonce, and Nicole Kidman to Daniel Craig for his James Bond performances. Although Tom Ford keeps his personal life private, he was married to Richard Buckley, American fashion journalist and editor for 35 years, until he very sadly passed away in September 2020.
Megan Fox wearing Thierry Mugler at the VMAs 2021 / Source: Insider
There is no doubt that actress Megan Fox is a LGBTQ+ fashion icon within her own right! She made some huge fashion waves recently in 2021 and 2022 from her matching nails with Machine Gun Kelly, to the stand-out VMA wet-look hair nude barely there dress look she sported last year to the bedazzled turquoise bodysuit she rocked recently. One of Megan Fox's most known movie roles was Jennifer Body, where she played bisexual cheerleader Jennifer Check. The most iconic fashion looks from the movie include the unforgettable y2k pink heart sweater and low rise jean look, the micro-mini and puffer fit and of course the blood-drenched white dress which are always killer halloween looks!
Megan, who is bisexual herself, has said that the movie was inspiring to many within the bisexual community, who have come to her saying that her open dialogue around bisexuality in interviews has allowed them to feel more comfortable in coming out! Megan has spoken about being so proud about having a positive impact on people within the LGBTQ+ community from her narrative around this film, particularly bisexual women coming to terms with their sexuality.
Billy Porter at The Golden Globes / Source: The Insider
Billy Porter is an award-winning American actor and gay fashion icon within his own right! In 2019, he won the Emmy Award for an Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, making him the first openly-gay black male that won any lead actor award. Billy is just one letter off receiving the EGOT prestige which is when someone wins an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award - only 16 people in the world have achieved this status! He has not only starred in famous broadway shows such as Kinky Boots and Miss Saigon, but is currently starring in Netflix’s Pose, which explores New York Cities African American and Latino community within drag ballroom culture. Within this show, he has helped break down stereotypes within the LGBTQ+ community.
Billy has spoken warmly of New York & London as cities leading the LGBTQ+ scene, but also says there is still a way to go and highlights the importance of the origins of Pride quoting last year ‘My first Pride was in ’89. It was the middle of the AIDS crisis – Pride is a protest. It’s a march, not a parade’
Porter has rocked some incredible looks, and we are obsessed with his trademark dramatic silhouettes, ruffles, extra-long trains and the impeccable attention to detail in each outfit we see grace the red carpets. These outfits are not only a work of art, but Porter has helped break down gender norms and helped to influence genderless fashion, challenging the 'masculine' patriarchy through his exploration of traditionally feminine silhouettes.
Munroe Bergdorf / Source: Attitude magazine
Munroe Bergdorf, is a trans activist and model, and has spent years of her life as a pioneer within the LGBTQ+ community. She has helped front numerous causes, events and charities and has carved herself out as one of the leading UK figures talking about trans issues as well as racism. She was L'oreals first transgender model, but found herself dropped after speaking out about white privilege and racism, which then subjected her to being attacked by the UK press. Despite these hardships, Bergdorf's continues her work as an equality trailblazer, and this year appeared on Cosmopolitan's February issue 50th anniversary as the cover girl, and was the first trans women to feature in its time as a publication! Her sense of style is bold, colourful and powerful and Munroe’s Instagram showcases her distinctive fashion sense and an array of highly creative modelling looks she has done.
Lady Gaga at The Grammys 2010 / Source: Insider
Global popstar Lady Gaga is known for blending music, art and pushing the creative boundaries through her performance, songwriting and fashion. Gaga came out as bisexual back in 2009 in an interview with the rolling stone magazine and has spoken largely about her passion to support the LGBTQ+ community and shown her disregard for dated gender binaries and stereotypes within fashion. She quoted when promoting her academy award-winning film House of Gucci '“I am here to cheer on radical love and a radical joy that I had the privilege of witnessing since I was a very young girl. And without the LGBTQ+ community, I would not be who I am.'
'Born This Way', which Gaga refers to as her freedom song broke records selling a huge 8.2 million copies, making it one of the best-selling records of all time. The track quickly became an LGBTQ+ anthem, referencing the beauty of loving yourself and celebrating yourself whatever your sexuality, gender identity, race, ethnicity or how you identify as! This powerful track is just as culturally relevant today as it was 12 years ago upon its release. Her artistic, camp, playful and experimentative approach to fashion has firmly cemented herself as a queer icon! Gaga has broken fashion boundaries, often making a political statement or a deeper meaning with her fashion choices. From how she burst onto the scene sporting a futuristic electric disco aesthetic, to her countless legendary fashion serves (from her studded prison fit to crime scene tape) such as the Telephone music video with Beyonce, Gaga has always delivered looks that inspire and make an impact! After all, who could forget her hugely controversial MTV video music awards meat dress she sported in 2010.
Source: The Guardian
The legendary pop star known for his powerful voice and effervescent, campy fashion - this line up wouldn't be complete without Elton. Elton is one of the most recognised members of the LGTBQ+ community and has done huge work to inspire change. In 1992, he set up the Elton John AIDS Foundation to help support HIV testing, prevention and care. Being gay during the 80s was a difficult time, as society was still very divided, but Elton was a beacon of light expressing himself and his sexuality through his incredible stage presence. When Elton came out as gay in the early 1990s (previously coming out as Bisexual), he became an instrumental voice within the LGBTQ community, fighting for same-sex marriage to become legal and encouraging people to vote. His marriage was one of the first same-sex marriages, and Elton has always openly expressed how proud he is to be part of the LGBTQ+ community. When it comes to fashion, it is no doubt Elton is a fashion superstar, from bedazzled jumpsuits, to rainbow feathering or leather suits - he just exudes icon!
Janelle Monae wears Christian Siriano at Met Gala 2019 / Source: Teen Vogue
Since her entrance into the music scene back in 2007, Janelle has made serious waves within not only the entertainment world, but within the LGBTQ+ community. A truly dynamic music artist, fusing r'n'b, funk, hip-hop, and new wave together Janelle has a wonderful way of merging music with art. When it comes to her status as an LGBTQ+ style icon, Janelle is known for her minimalist approach to style, opting for a black and white palette with the occasional splash of red. Janelle's style is more than dressing for aesthetics, but instead an exploration of gender identity and queerness as well as paying homage to her roots. Monae is amongst the recent line of women who embrace androgyny and androgynous style, which can be traced back to queer fashion icons Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo, helping to challenge and break boundaries within the gender binaries.