Ball culture started to bloom in the 80s thanks to Black and Latino non-cisgender individuals, who were eager to have a safe space to celebrate the queer community, in a time when walking down the street or coming back home safe and sound was an achievement. The balls were a joyful place, a home for those who had nothing but the community to relate to and where they could be their true selves in an atmosphere where acceptance, love, fashion and talent – and lots of shade – were the stars of the party.
The queer community has always been extremely creative, and they got to show their realness not only by designing their outfits to walk down the balls’ categories and snatch a trophy but also by creating voguing, a dancing trend that is still preserved and rejoiced today. You can learn everything about the balls extravaganza if you give Pose or Paris is Burning a watch!
In 1993, drag became mainstream thanks to RuPaul Charles who became the first drag supermodel. This moment represents a before and after for LGBTQ+ individuals and since then, RuPaul has given visibility to non-binary and gender-fluid people not only by starring fashion campaigns but also by giving birth to RuPaul’s Drag Race, where light is shed on the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent in the drag community. 12 seasons and a gazillion Queens later we can simply not get enough… And neither can the fashion sphere!
We can’t talk about drag and forget about Camp. Last year, the First Monday of May celebrated Camp, which stands for extravagant, exaggerate or inappropriate but pleasing. It is a fact that not everything that is queer is Camp. Yet, ball and drag community have been massive contributors to the style as well as a source of inspiration for designers.
Although there is still much to do to gain equality and parity within society, the fashion industry – at least a section of it – has not only recognised how uplifting the queer community is but also how valuable and important it is to put non-cisgender, trans and gay people in the spotlight. From Marc Jacobs to Chromat to Moschino to Savage x Fenty, drag queens and non-binary models seem to be – finally – getting the attention they deserve in the industry.
Jean-Paul Gaultier has brought to the runway personalities such as Conchita Wurst and Adore Delano as a statement for integration and equality. Moreover, he has teamed up with other drag queens such as Gigi Goode, Violet Chachki and gender-fluid creatives like JeanPaul Paula who are the faces of his Maison.
Calvin Klein surprised us all in the most positive way last month by covering New York City with billboards of transgender model Jari Jones as the face of the brand’s new LGBTQ+ campaign. The LGBTQ+ community has truly inspired the world over the years, and it sounds about right that it starts to pay off. Can I get an amen up in here?