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/

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  • GeriHew

    Lesbians get around, but really it’s bisexual women who are everywhere.

  • QJ201

    Didn’t we answer this question in the 90s?

    Guess we didn’t

    Someone tell kd Lang and Cindy Crawford

  • EvonCook

    So this continues to put the total lie to “lesbian invisibility,” and we can stop the guilt trip and the “special preference” for “women first” demanded by lesbians, and let them take their place according to historical, chronological, numerical, financial and other norms, as in GLBT instead of the enforced, inverted usual pc., or demanding parity even when they don’t warrant it, or the desperation to head up gay organizations but hardly allowing a lesbian organization to tolerate males, never mind permitting them in positions of leadership. Come on girls, can you play by the same rules for once even if you are far more acceptable, if not even desirable to the straights.

  • GeriHew

    @EvonCook: If you want to put the most numerous first and the least numerous last then it should be BGLT. That way it is also in alphabetical order.

  • JonahEastCoast

    I don’t think I’m in favor of a lesbian aesthetic per se so much as flair and functionality for all. I think the most stylish gays and lesbians I’ve met strike the balance between acknowledging their natural forms and yet not oppressed by them.

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