Queering Fashion | First Person #3 | PBS Digital Studios


Oh my gosh, hello! Another episode of First Person is coming right at your face. (Music) Today’s episode is all about fashion. We are
going to be sitting down and talking with Nicolette Mason Rae Tutera and Arabelle Sicardi,
three really important queer people in the fashion industry. Fashion is huge, it isn’t
just what we wear and I think a lot of times we think that but in all honesty fashion hinges on a pretty strict binary.
If you’re a man you’re supposed to look a particular way If you’re a woman you’re suppose to look a particular way, and there’s not much going on outside of that binary. Also, being a woman
in the fashion industry is super tricky because we’re told not only how we’re
supposed to appear but how we’re supposed to appear based on how others are looking at us and who
those others should be. It can be really troublesome, and that’s why it’s really important
that we have queer voices in the fashion space. We’re gonna head down to the Dressing
Room which is an amazing boutique and café on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and
talk to Nicolette and Rae and Arabelle all about their thoughts on being these unique voices, these important voices within the fashion industry. Like starting kind of at the bottom, how did you get involved in fashion and start writing about fashion, like how did that all happen in your life? -–I grew up in LA and I feel like you’re just like inundated with fashion from a very young age and I was always like very conscious of trends and of designers and yeah there was always a stack of like Vogue magazines and Harper’s Bazaars at my house. And I would tag along with
my mom to the hair salon and read magazines there, so I don’t honestly remember a time when I wasn’t conscious of fashion. Everyone knew about me before probably
I knew about myself in terms of my sexuality. and probably plenty of people knew about me too in terms of my gender presentation. I just came across like my 3rd grade school photo, and like I’m a boy. Ya know, I have slicked back hair. But it’s hard to be that third-grader when you’re an adult. I
really wanted to be a visible adult but in order to be one I also had to be
masculine in a way that made other people uncomfortable. I had my first custom suit made when I was 25. The suit was the crossover garment for me. The blog, um, I just wanted people to know I was there. and I wanted them to know that they could go into a sort of traditionally masculine landscape designed for men and exist there and thrive there. —Feel comfortable there. –I pretty much knew I was queer For, uh, ever (Laughs) The reason I really loved fashion from the very beginning was Rrei Kawakubo from comme de garcon. –I’m gonna do just a quick haul slash brag video on what I got at the comme de garcon sample sale. –She designs for women who don’t give a sh– about what their husband thinks. It allowed me to see identity through a queer lens of resistance. Not about other peoples desires, its about seeing how you relate to the world and how you interact with it. –I mean it makes a lot more sense to me
now just having you explain the tiniest bit of it that so many other designers are doing
are designing for other people to look at it as opposed to the person saying
like this is something I have autonomy over I want to feel this
relationship with this piece of clothing, –Yeah and it’s not to discredit the people ‘cuz like people they want to be wanted by other people. I’m not saying I don’t have feelings and I don’t want to connect to other, but I want to be seen in the exact way I want to be seen in the exact way that I want to be seen; I don’t want to have to negotiate that for other
people’s comfort, and I’m totally invested in making people
uncomfortable in my writing. –The more I started coming in to my queer identity the more confused I was about my personal style, and so I went through this really weird period of my life where I try to like
force myself to wear like skinny jeans and hoodies all the time (laughs) and I look so not myself and there were
like vests involved, there was a fedora. It’s just like so painful because I was like forcing myself to look like this the only representation I’ve ever seen of queer women. –Gosh I’m so glad I’m not wearing a hoodie or a fedora, ya know? –Yeah, hoodies are great and you know what if that is someone’s personal style they should be empowered to wear it, but it was not mine. –Was any of it for you also recognizability? –Totally, yeah. –If I walk down the street, I don’t tend to dress in like things that would
make me recognizably queer –Absolutely, absolutely. You know it’s like femmes are pretty invisible that’s why it’s really important for me to be visible and um be out in my identity so that other people can have I don’t call myself a role model but I
know that I am for a lot of people –Absolutely –and and that’s important. –Do you think
there’s something that can be done in in the fashion world specifically
like what what can people do to create better
spaces more, open spaces? –I think that a lot of designers
are moving away from the super feminine ideals in fashion which is nice I think ultimately more diversity across the board is going to help but there still is a problem in fashion where you know I can count the number of out
gay women in the fashion industry that I know who
are like very prolific in the space, who have notoriety, who get press probably on one hand. –When, when most of us see fashion it’s portrayed in like the either/or but I find it very rare and I know that
people very close to me find it very rare to see formations of dress that break out of those two places. –When I imagine queerness and stuff it’s not about um.. like the authentic self, I’m not trying to find the real me. I’m trying to find new versions of me all the time and like there are designers that are queer and that see this space and
they they’re being seen right now. I don’t
know how long that they’ll last because the industry might not be ready for them.
–What needs to be done in the fashion world to allow people to dress the way
that they want to dress, is kind of what I’m after. –Personally, I would love to stop seeing the centering and prioritizing of thin, white, masculine of center affluent bodies it’s, again absolutely they should be represented
but there are so many other identities and cultures and body types, and shapes, and expressions that exist in the queer community and they’re so
rarely put front and center –As someone who kind of fits that demographic, I totally agree. –Thank you (laughs) –That’s not the only version of queer that’s possible like I’m really interested in seeing how
people interpret femininity in an androgynous way. Or like you can be androgynous without being masculine. –What you just said probably nobody has
ever heard before. –Yeah –You know what I mean, I think that would be sort of groundbreaking to people –That you can be really feminine and still be– –Yeah –Queer fashion person. –The binary is just a thing that we play into because that’s what we’ve been taught. –Why do we keep mimicking the same traditional gender roles and
prioritizing masculinity within the LGBT community like I really genuinely try to understand that. –You know you were talking earlier about the visibility of like seeing yourself on the tumblr dashboard I know like it sounds silly but yeah but just like seeing someone who you’re like oh I can I can dress like this I can look like
this and I know that like we get questions all the time from people who
are like hey I don’t I don’t want to wear a suit
to a wedding and I don’t wanna wear dress to a wedding and don’t know what
to wear and that’s a visibility that I think is really deserves attention and growth
and –I agree, and those folks are often pressured into choosing a dress or a suit –I really do want to thank all three of you for being here like it’s an important conversation. The more it’s talked about the bigger change will happen Thank you for being with us. –Thanks for having us. Hey, thanks for watching It was super fun to be down at the Dressing
Room thank you to them for allowing us to be in their space and of course you can follow Nicolette
Rae, and Arabelle all over the internet: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. You should because they’re awesome and
they’re doing a lot of important work. And also please follow us and subscribe to
our channel so that you can stay up to date on all of the new episodes. Last but not least please talk to us in the comments and
let us know what issues you want us to tackle and what people you want us to speak to. We’ll be listening, we’ll be responding to your comments and your voice is quite
literally going to shape this show so we look forward to hearing from you and an awesome day! Bye! Bye! (Laughs) (Music) Subtitles by the Amara.org community

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