Saturday, Royce Hall will be transformed into a runway as designers, stylists and models come together for a night of high fashion and social activism.
Presented by UCLA’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies Program, the Queerture Fashion Show, the name of which arises from a combination of the words “queer” and “couture,” will serve as the closing event for this year’s Queer Studies Conference.
The two-day conference, which includes a series of panels and discussions led by speakers from universities across the country, will explore fashion from the LGBT perspective and how it relates to important social topics such as economic class and ethnicity.
Laura Luna, a stylist, said the fashion show will feature local designers, stylists and models who either identify themselves as being part of the LGBT community or create fashion specifically for queer individuals.
Luna said she drew aesthetic inspiration for the show from the femme icons that she admires in her personal life. According to Luna, the runway looks range from exaggerated styles reminiscent of Lady Gaga, to others that maintain a more vintage sensibility in the style of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.
Artistic director Tania Hammidi said the show is about more than just the garments and accessories; it’s about giving members of the LGBT community the chance to express themselves freely through the way they dress.
“Fashion is a combination of both utility and aesthetics. We have to wear clothing, and we are given the opportunity to express ourselves through the looks that we choose to create with our clothes,” said Hammidi. “It is the medium of social identity.”
Through the runway, Luna said she hopes to show that the queer aesthetic is just as beautiful as the socially constructed, mainstream idea of beauty that is constantly presented in the media.
According to Hammidi, the fashion show, which features a variety of queer identities from transgendered men to butch femmes, offers another perspective of the fashion industry that the public typically does not see.
“What distinguishes us from a mainstream fashion show is that we’re not appealing to a mainstream heterosexual marketplace,” said Hammidi. “That means that we’re not afraid to blur the lines of gender and sexuality.”
Hammidi also said that a major issue in the LGBT community is that individuals are unable to find the clothes that fit their specific sexual identities.
“If you’re a biological man and you cross-dress, it’s hard to find shoes in the right size, or if you’re a short trans-guy that wants a nice suit and you can’t afford tailoring, you’re stuck with the thrift store,” said Hammidi.
Hammidi said the runway combines the technical fashion skills of queer individuals with the desire for freedom of self-expression and provides the space for them to present clothes and accessories geared specifically toward the LGBT culture and structured specifically for their body types.
She also said that the fashion show is a stepping stone for introducing this subculture of the LGBT aesthetic into the mainstream fashion industry.
Luna said that she hopes the looks featured on the runway will inspire people to take chances in terms of how they dress themselves as well as refuse to hold back in terms of self-expression of their individuality.
“I hope that there’s something that resonates with (the audience),” Luna said. “I come from a place where more is more, and I want them to know that they can push the limits and step out of the box.”
Designer Vanessa Leigh Lewis, who specializes in refashioning vintage clothing and creating eco-friendly garments out of recycled material, hopes that the looks on the runway, such as her three dimensional sequined headpiece inspired by Frida Kahlo, will make the audience feel empowered and strengthen their pride in themselves.
“Being true to yourself, being true to who you feel you are, being true to your identity and projecting that outward,” Lewis said. “That’s very much what fashion is.”