Lesbian Chic: Trend Or Foe?

When talking about fashion, gay men are usually considered the arbiters of style. The majority of designers, stylists and editors are gay and they’re the ones dictating what’s en vogue and what’s been en vogue as of late has been lesbians.‘s Maya Singer explains so-called “Lesbian Chic“:

Lesbians! They’re everywhere. This summer, the New York fashion scene was buzzing with gossip about a couple of high-profile ladies who ditched their marriages and started dating women; across the pond, meanwhile, British Vogue ran a whole article on that phenomenon, while society rag Tatler chimed in with a feature on London’s seven “loveliest lesbians.” (Only seven?) Just last week, posted photos on its homepage of the nuptials of model Harmony Boucher and her bride, Nicole.

So sapphic sartorialists have fashion minds captivated. The chic lesbian is nothing new, however, going back to the days of a tuxedoed Marlene Dietrich kissing a woman in 1930’s Morocco to Helmut Newton’s hauntingly seductive portraits from the 70s of smartly-appointed women in flagrante delicto. The stereotypically lesbian aesthetic, however, has catwalked its way to the forefront of fashion:

What will this high-vis lady love mean for fashion? Socially, perhaps it means that in an industry stuffed with attractive young women, a few more of them may start dating each other. (Seriously: Trying to catch a straight man in fashion is like trying to catch a rainbow.) More importantly, it will have ramifications for style. “I think when you see girls running around in Air Jordans and baseball caps, then yeah, something’s moved,” says Mel Ottenberg, the fashion editor of Purple and a stylist for Rihanna. “I’m not sure I’ve ever thought of that look as ‘lesbian,’ necessarily, but I can say that in the past year, Rih’s wearing combat boots in situations where before, nothing but four-inch-heel stiletto booties would do.”

“Lesbian Chic” could be described as a version of female fashion empowerment; a rejection of typically feminine or  effeminate styles for something both tougher and more comfortable. Of course, some lesbians love them a pair of heels and a sequined shift, so coining the term “Lesbian Chic” might be a misnomer. “Butch-Dyke Chic,” however, has a ring to it.

Photo: Fiona Garden/