This past week, after Vogue’s July 13 cover story featuring a besuited “androgynous” Gigi Hadid came out, the Queer Internet was in an uproar. Vogue’s story, which used its cover models Hadid and Zayn Malik to put forth a notion of a new, gender-free approach to fashion, was seen as tone-deaf and ignorant by many in the queer and nonbinary community. Many Twitter users took offense at the fact that, rather than put an androgynous model on their cover, Vogue chose to go with Hadid and Malik because they have a relationship in which they often share each others’ clothes.
The controversial Vogue article, titled: “Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik are Part of a New Generation Who Don’t See Fashion as Gendered” begins by name dropping “Orlando,” Virginia Woolf’s groundbreaking experimental novel about a male protagonist who switches genders halfway through the story. Orlando, as one of the few canonical literary characters nonbinary people have to represent them, is used as an example of how young people in fashion don’t “play by the rules,” while its entire point and themes (about gender inequality, the changing expectations of gender roles through time, etc) are entirely erased.
Vogue’s article does get one thing right: It sets the tone for just how little the rest of the piece is going to “get it” about queer fashion as a movement.
The upset around the piece had to do, mostly, with matters of representation. Nonbinary writer Akosua Johnson wrote in “Fashionista” that “nonbinary people may be leading the charge in defying fashion’s gender conventions, but our incredibly cool styles are not the end of what it means to be genderfluid. This active reversal of the many ways in which gender roles are forced on us is not a result of some flower-power, laissez-faire, devil-may-care millennial faux-losophy but is a byproduct of generations of people struggling to be recognized and self-defined, despite what others might…