In the last decade, we’ve seen high
profile people in all industries stepping out of the closet, but
fashion has long been a niche that welcomed those who didn’t give
in to mainstream conformity. In fact, this singular trait is often
what makes someone successful in fashion.
And it just so happens that the
relatively small circle of those who’ve been most successful in the
industry is full of brilliant and amazingly talented non-conformists
who are also gay men.
From models to designers to editors and
bloggers, the world of style is almost dominated by men who are open
and proud about their homosexuality.
One couldn’t possibly cover all of
these individuals in one short article, so we chose 7 of our favorite
contemporary figures who represent a variety of styles and
perspectives in modern fashion.
1. Tom Ford
The handsome “it” man snagged
himself a spot in fashion’s pantheon by essentially turning Gucci
into the highly respected haute couture fashion house it is today
back when no one would touch it with a 10-foot pole. And since then,
he’s gone on to revitalize YSL, form his own line and direct an
Oscar-nominated film. Not bad for a kid from Texas who graduated
Parsons with a degree in architecture.
2. Andre Leon Talley
Mr. Talley is like the fairy godfather
of fashion – he’s served as everything from the fashion advisor
of the first family to editor-at-large at Vogue to Tyra’s
right-hand-man on America’s Next Top Model. He made his way up in
the world by graduating from Brown University and then becoming
creative director at Vogue. And as a close personal friend of the
likes of Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld, you can be sure he always
has his finger on the fashion pulse.
3. Marc Jacobs
In 2010, Time Magazine named Jacobs one
of the 100 most influential people in the world, let alone the
fashion world or the gay world. Winning multiple awards for both his
own line and his work for Louis Vuitton, this designer has become a
household name and a pop culture icon. His name has been dropped in
several hip hop artists’ songs. In addition to his bold runway
designs, Jacobs released a line of t-shirts promoting equal marriage
rights, using his high profile status for good.
4. Domenico Dolce & Steffano
The painfully stylish Italian duo, who
are partners in work and life, naturally come as a pair on this list.
With a bootstrap start in Italy in the 80s, the two designers shot
to style stardom with their 4th collection inspired by 1940s cinema.
Their signature über feminine designs have even come in the form of
performing costumes for superstars like Madonna, Whitney Houston, and
5. Tim Gunn
As Project Runway’s resident mentor,
Tim Gunn has become one of fashion’s most recognizable figures. He
endured childhood in a severely homophobic home and even attempted
suicide as a teenager, which he spoke about in his own “It Gets
Better” narrative. But Gunn went on to become a faculty member at
Parsons School of Design in 1982, later serving as dean and then
chair of the fashion design department. But his star really rose once
he became an integral part of TV’s premiere fashion reality show.
And as the current chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne, there’s
no doubt that Tim “Make it Work” Gunn is a force in fashion.
6. Michael Kors
Another frequent character in Heidi’s
Project Runway menagerie, Michael Kors is a giant in the American
sportswear world. By age 23, Kors had already dropped out of New
York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and launched his first
womenswear line in the city’s major high end department stores. In
addition to several fashion and accessory lines with his own name, he
also served as Celine’s first ever ready-to-wear designer. And as
the designer of the dress Michelle Obama wore in her first term
official portrait, he may even be featured in history books someday.
7. Christian Louboutin
The shoe design wizard behind the
iconic red-soled shoes grew up in Paris and had little formal
training but a longtime fascination with women’s shoes. After some
rebellious exotic travel in his youth, Louboutin returned to Paris
and began shopping his drawings around to fashion houses. He opened
his first shop in 1991 and is credited for bringing back the stiletto
heel. His sophisticated, sexy style has become a fashion staple
among celebs and fashionistas and the red-soled shoe has become, in
itself, a symbol of feminine style.
This list is by no means exhaustive,
but it does include some of our very favorites and those we think
have contributed and continue to contribute the most to style, design
and fashion today.
In addition to what these men have done
for fashion, many also publicly advocate for gay rights and no doubt
serve as shining examples of personal and professional success for
the LGBT community.
[Editor's note: Maureen Lampert serves
as chairman of Chicago's Oak
Street Council, an organization made up of the owners of luxury
shops, restaurants, hotels and more in the fashionable Gold Coast
neighborhood. She is also a style and travel writer who frequently
contributes to several online publications.]