in brief: queer is the new black
The news from Paris, the fashion capital of the world, is that queer is the new black. A pair of models presented as lesbian brides glammed up the cover of the January edition of Elle France this month, alongside the slogan ‘Marriage for all!’ And Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld closed his haute-couture show on Tuesday with two women sashaying down the catwalk hand-in-hand in elaborate wedding gowns. These high-profile celebrations of lady-love are moving the discussion of same-sex marriage into the living-rooms and salons of women all around the world.
The wave of fashionable support comes as France moves to legalise same-sex marriage this year. President Hollande made same-sex marriage and adoption a centrepoint of his election campaign in 2012, and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told parliament: ‘In the first half of 2013, the right to marriage and adoption will be open to all couples, without discrimination.’ Legislation is tipped to be introduced in the coming months.
Elle editor Valérie Toranian wrote an editorial corresponding to the January cover, advocating for same-sex marriage. Also in the edition, former First Lady and style icon, Carla Bruni detailed how she disagreed with conservative husband Nicolas Sarkozy on the issues of same-sex marriage and adoption.
‘I’m rather in favor because I have a lot of friends – men and women – who are in this situation and I see nothing unstable or perverse in families with gay parents,’ says Bruni, according to the Associated Press.
Largerfeld too has been vocal on the issues. Following the Chanel show, he was interviewed by Reuters, where he barracked for same-sex marriage while (conversely) disagreeing with same-sex adoption.
‘I don’t even understand the debate. Since 1904 (in France) the church and state have been separate,’ Lagerfeld said after Tuesday’s show. ‘I do not understand why people who live together cannot have the same security as those bourgeois who are married.’
Of course, commentators have suggested that the Elle cover is “fake” as the models are probably not a lesbian couple. However, high-profile advocacy for same-sex marriage is a rarity, and should be encouraged. Elle has the largest readership of any fashion magazine, and the collective websites of the brand receive millions of hits per month. That means millions of readers being invited to consider same-sex marriage, and their position on the matter.
Australia is usually a season behind in fashion trends; perhaps we can look forward to similar displays of support through fashion in June or July, with parliamentary support to follow.