The DM Manual of Style

by Leslie Adkins | 5/1/09 2:33am

Writing the style column for PRIDE Week is probably one of the most intimidating tasks that I have faced as a writer. Honestly, where does one begin? How can you even attempt to list all of the great contributions that LGBTQA culture has bestowed upon the fashion industry?

It's no secret that many of our modern trendsetters, stylists and designers support or are members of the LGBTQA community. Take, for example, Dolce and Gabbana and Valentino. And, even at Dartmouth, I doubt a single woman on campus would disagree with the statement that gay men are among the best dressed men on campus, period.

From London punk to Park Avenue glamour, some members of the LGBTQA community have turned fashion into a lifestyle. While the list of accomplishments and contributions goes on and on, there are certain stylistic institutions that are priceless and untouchable. Rather than a Maven/Maverick spotlight, I thought it would only be proper to pay respect to the fabulous, daring and sophisticated. Inspired by the freedom of San Francisco's Castro District and the pulsing beat of Paris's Le Marais, I present my tribute to the best gender-bending fashion trends and most notable out and proud personalities in modern American fashion culture.

Menswear as Women's Wear: The "It" style that has never died, this trend has proven that women can have it both ways without being labeled manly or unfeminine. Women's tuxedos, dress blazers, three piece suits, long vests, cardigans and fedoras are just some of the styles commonly featured on the runway. Ellen DeGeneres isn't the only woman wearing ties and suspenders anymore.

Michael Kors: My favorite designer, now and forever. Beyond being a blunt and entertaining judge on Bravo's "Project Runway," he's a purveyor of classic American chic, making simple, staple skirts and dresses accentuate every curve and line of the body. He's one of the few designers today who makes his ready-to-wear line feel as luxurious as his runway collection. Tim Gunn, you're okay too.

Metrosexuality: Yes, gentlemen of all persuasions, it is not only acceptable, but most considerate to wax. Although it was once a foreign concept to most straight men, taking care of one's appearance -- from smarter clothing to more frequent facials and massages -- not only has psychological and physical health benefits, but can up your game. Women like men who care about themselves and how they look. Just ask David Beckham.

The Asexual Skinny/Rocker Jean: It took me a while to get used to the idea of men wearing women's jeans. I also resisted buying skinny jeans and possibly reducing the circulation to my thighs. However, now that I've embraced both trends, I see the charm. Cigarette-legged rocker jeans are a sexually ambiguous bottom piece, a rarity when you consider the difference between what covers a woman's ass versus a man's. They make an outfit gender-neutral on the bottom, allowing more creativity or sexuality to be showcased in other pieces or accessories.

Christian Siriano: Tranny-fierce. Hot tranny mess. Fierce. (Please see Season Four of Project Runway).

The Color Purple (and its relatives): The book by this name is the epitome of literary excellence, but I'm thinking along the lines of loose, flowing blouses and dresses. As one of the official colors of royalty, the gay community (I have fundamental issues with rainbows, and for that matter, the traditional color spectrum), and spring 2009, purple is making a loud comeback in the fashion world. Sugarplum and eggplant reigned in the fall and winter months; lilac and lavender popped up all over spring ready-to-wear lines. We'll have more, please.

Gianni Versace: The late, the great, the timeless Italian design genius should never be omitted in any fashion tribute. Since his 1997 murder in Miami Beach, the world of fashion has never been the same, nor has the Versace fashion house. His sensuality, sensationalism and asymmetrical lines foreshadowed the popularity of similar, more youthful designs of Alexander McQueen and Zac Posen. His inspirations were said to range from ancient Greek and Roman art, to modern abstract art, to different types of pornography -- the source of much of the overt sexuality found in his clothing. Donatella has been a passable design director, but Mr. Versace is irreplaceable.

As PRIDE Week comes to a close, it's important to remember that the celebration of PRIDE is not only about acknowledgement and acceptance, but also about respecting the diverse identities and accomplishments that come from the LGBTQA community. The styles, artists and trends I've noted will long be known for a legacy of outstanding dedication, originality and inclusion.