A model walks the runway in a look by The Tailory.
Fashion hasn’t always been an easy subject for Gabby Rivera. When the writer was young, fashion meant anxiety. Fashion meant trying to meet the expectations of the adults in her life—which didn’t at all match the person she felt she was.
“It’s been a trying road,” she told Vanity Fair Thursday at the fourth annual dapperQ show, which she hosted at the Brooklyn Museum. “For me, fashion was always a source of pain and anxiety—battling it out with my mom in the dressing room when she wants me to be the church girl, and I want to be in my overalls playing in the dirt.”
Now, it’s 2017, and Rivera, along with other queer fashion designers and more than 1,000 attendees came to celebrate what revolution—the theme of the night—looks like for the queer community at the largest showcase of queer style during Fashion Week.
The show was executive produced by queer fashion Web site dapperQ, which promotes queer style and designers, and sponsored by the Brooklyn Museum. Before the show began, vendors lined the expansive ballroom of the museum, as performance artist Qween Amor twirled the length of the room. Volunteers milled about the room with name tags that said “volunqueer.” All of queer fashion had a place in the room, from bow ties to button-downs and snap-back hats.
As the show began, models for TomBoyX took the stage wearing gear from Clear Coated Rainwear. A model in a wheelchair helped kick off the night to explosive cheers—signaling that this was not going to be an ordinary Fashion Week event. As the night went on, models from 10 different queer designers including bespoke tailoring company Bindle & Keep, Kris Harring Apparel Group, and Stuzo Clothing took the stage representing diverse range of race, gender, body type, and ability.
Kien Hoang who walked with Sir New York, said that walking in the show meant not fitting in with the status quo of Fashion Week. When designer Auston Björkman asked Hoang to join in the show, he said he wanted authenticity, not experience.
“I’m like, ‘me?’ I’m not a model.’ He’s like, ‘perfect,’ Hoang said backstage.
As model Elliott Sailors said after the show, dapperQ represents so much more than clothes—it drive home the importance for the queer community to keep existing and, in doing so, resisting a world that so often rejects it. Sailors has gone to every dapperQ show since it first began in 2014.
“It’s so beautiful to me—the safe space that this is for the community,” Sailors said. “People don’t have to know somebody to be here. They don’t have to have proven themselves in some way to be here. This is really for queer people to be entirely comfortable with exactly who they are. It is a safe space for people in all of the queer community—everyone of every size, of every ethnicity—all of us.”
For Rivera, that safe space was up on stage, wearing a backwards hat, as she reassured everyone in the room that they could and should be authentically themselves no matter the adversity that they face.
“When I think about queer style and fashion, I think about how us really being able to dictate what our armor is and what it looks like,” she said before taking the stage. “When you feel good, you’re better capable at handling white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia. It is not protection, but it is courage.”
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