And the honorees are...

These style-makers are changing how the world sees gender, one outfit at a time

While fashion is often considered a luxury out of reach for most people, a whole group of designers is bringing fashion to the streets, finding new ways to make it accessible and relevant to all.

Style has long been one way in which queer people find each other and express the beauty of their difference to the larger world. Queer designers have helped liberate us from convention, often enforced through outdated ideas about what attire is acceptable based on gender and heteronormativity.

This pride season, the following designers caught our attention not just for their aesthetic sensibilities but their devotion to our cause.

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2. Tim Gunn

As the star of Project Runway, Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style, Under the Gunn, and this year’s Making The Cut, Tim Gunn has it good. But life for Gunn has not always been easy. The popular television personality grew up in a virulently antigay 1960s household, in which gay men were regularly denounced as immoral predators, and his father was a speechwriter for J. Edgar Hoover (ah, wicked the irony of it all!).

Gunn showed enormous courage in breaking away from his background, coming out, and eventually honing his interest in fashion first at Corcoran College of Art and Design, receiving a BFA in sculpture, and then on the faculty of Parsons School of Design before landing the gig at Project Runway for 16 seasons.

But it’s not just Gunn’s taste in clothing that we admire. As a teacher and critic, he’s become a mentor to an entire generation of the designers gracing his shows who will go on to remake the world in their own queer image.

As he says in Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet:

I love the word ‘fashion.’ That’s why I’m using it in the title of this book. Fashion is about change and about creating clothes within a historical context. To me, dismissing fashion as silly or unimportant seems like a denial of history and frequently a show of sexism—as if something that’s traditionally a concern of women isn’t valid as a field of academic inquiry. When the Parsons fashion department was founded in 1906, it was called ‘costume design,’ because fashion was then a verb: to fashion. But the word ‘fashion’ has evolved to mean something much more profound, and those who resist it seem to me to be on the wrong side of history.

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