The high fashion world, for the most part, has been accepting of designers’ sexual orientations. Many gay fashion designers have felt at ease in the universe of fabric, sewing machines and towering, pencil-thin models. However, because of societal pressures of the era, some fashion masters such as Christian Dior and Cristobel Balenciaga were gay men who were closeted. Thankfully, most gay fashion designers today are out and proud and steering some of the biggest brand names in fashion. Even if they have passed away, their names are still being used on collections. That is the kind of impact they made in the way the world views couture.
Igniting Social Movements
In celebration of upcoming worldwide Pride festivities, we wanted to pay homage to some designers who sparked changes in the way we dress and look. Although there are other gay designers who operate hugely successful labels, we think this group moved fashion forward so much that their influence continues to be felt today.
Pride festivities are taking place all around the world this summer, but the three most famous are happening in New York City, London and Paris. If you are planning on attending one of these celebrations to show your pride, you will want to be staying in a place in which you can also take pride. If you’re in New York, that means Townhouse Freya with its Upper East Side location and comfortable, yet elegant interior. In Paris, Apartment Tibault in the famed 16th arrondissement, is the ideal aristocratic manor updated with the most modern conveniences. It can accommodate up to nine guests. Penthouse Alastair is the ideal luxury home to call yours while you’re in London. Here, you’ll have a private elevator, bar, office and every modern convenience. All these elite homes come with full services and 24/7 guest services.
Yves Saint Laurent
The late Yves Saint Laurent was one of the first Paris designers featuring models of many cultures in his runway shows in the 1970s. In the 1960s, he was one of the first French couturiers to start a ready-to-wear label and brought us safari, bohemia and unorthodox color pairings continuing to inspire today’s fashion. In 1966 he designed a look that signaled huge social change for women – Le Smoking – an androgynous tuxedo look that was not only sexy, but powerful and would pave the way for women entering corporate culture who were primed for impeccable power dressing. The design is a classic and still worn today. The brand, which is now known as Saint Laurent, is owned by Gucci. Saint Laurent died in 2008.
He was a regular at Studio 54 and was famous for styling the likes of Liza Minnelli, Elizabeth Taylor and Bianca Jagger. The late Roy Halston Frowick, known simply as Halston, rose to international fame in the 1970s. The first time the world had any inkling Halston would go on to become a fashion legend was in 1961 when Jackie Kennedy wore one of his pillbox hats to her husband’s presidential inauguration. His designs were minimal, modern, elegant and unabashedly sexy. This was the same time women were asserting their sexuality and going braless and Halston took advantage of the societal change. He traveled everywhere with his favorite models and was the pioneer of the modern-day influencer. Halston sold his label in the 70s, but lost the rights to his name in the 80s. He died of AIDS in 1988. Most of his designs still stand the test of time. According to one report, one of his bestsellers was his ultra suede shirt dress. Today, countless brands execute a version of that design. It is a staple in many working women’s wardrobes and is a cool alternative to an office suit.
Calvin Klein’s brand epitomized clean modern lines and consummate minimalism. Klein sold his company to the Phillips Van Heusen Corp. in 2002. It was Klein’s jeans, fragrance and underwear divisions that really gained mainstream success with often controversial ad campaigns such as a teenaged Brooke Shields saying, “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins,” in a television commercial. The designer’s fragrances like Obsession and Eternity became huge sellers. However, Klein did wonders for men’s underwear when he launched his campaign in 1982 featuring Olympic pole vaulter Tom Hintnaus. It was the first time men were really looked upon as sex objects in ad campaigns. Everyone loved it – women and both straight and gay men. Thanks to Klein, men began paying attention to what they wore under their clothes.
Jean Paul Gaultier
Jean Paul Gaultier has always been known for pushing the boundaries in fashion like his use of androgyny. He has put men in skirts and used androgynous model Andrej Pejic to model both male and female clothing. Gaultier was one of the first designers to break down gender stereotypes. He also tried the same thing in the cosmetics industry in 2008 launching a men’s makeup line, but the time was not exactly right. He was ahead of his time though since today companies such as L’Oreal, Cover Girl and even Chanel have launched cosmetics lines geared toward men. Chanel’s is known as Boy de Chanel.
When Alexander McQueen took his own life in 2010, the world lost one of the greatest fashion designers of the 20th century. McQueen was known for being fearless, provocative and found beauty in those things most people see as macabre. His clothing was impeccably tailored from honing his craft on Savile Row in London. His runway shows were elaborate, thought-provoking theatrical productions. McQueen’s influence can still be seen today and one way in which he changed fashion can be traced back to 1996 when one of his collections featured bumster trousers – pants cut so low, they skimmed the pubic area and the top of butt cheeks. The design sparked a whole revolution. McQueen influenced denim manufacturers to try to outdo each other with butt-skimming jeans. It has only been in the last few years that jeans have been starting to inch back up to waist height.
In 1968, at the age of 24, German designer Jil Sander founded her own company which she sold to Prada in 1999, but it has changed owners a few times. The designer finally let go of the brand altogether in 2013. She has been called the first fashion feminist by British Vogue. She showed the fashion world there were other options for women in business other than donning a man’s suit. Sander’s clean lines gave her clothing a luxurious look, yet they were practical and functional for every day. She referred to her style as quiet beauty and serenity. She even launched a fragrance called Pure. Jet-set women took to her clothing readily since they adored the understated elegance and gentle hues. Her legacy: Showing powerful women how to make a quiet impact with their attire.
The New York Pride parade, the London Pride parade or the Paris Pride parade – whichever destination in which you would like to celebrate Pride, LVH ensures you will spend your time in style. Pride festivities are approaching quickly so we invite you to reach out to one of our client relations team members who will begin the planning process for your exciting trip! We would also love to plan a custom itinerary for you so you can take in those things that delight you the most – whether that is shopping, dining, exploring new things, day trips. Whatever tickles your fancy, we will arrange! Our only goal is to see that you have an extraordinary time on your next adventure