Barbara Sanchez-Kane Is Bringing the Macho Sentimental to Menswear

Inspired by sentimentality and love, Mexican fashion designer Barbara Sanchez-Kane is on a mission to create clothes for a muse she has dubbed the “Macho Sentimental.” The Macho Sentimental can be someone of any gender; any individual who is in touch with their emotions. It is out of that space that Sanchez-Kane creates her innovative, unique designs that take inspiration from both high fashion couture and Mexican streetwear.

Sanchez-Kane recently collaborated with Nike on their The Force is Female project and hosted a pop-up in Los Angeles in late November. INTO caught up with the queer designer to talk about the philosophy guiding her inspired menswear line.

Barbara Sanchez-Kane
Barbara Sanchez-Kane

What does “Macho Sentimental” mean to Barbara Sanchez-Kane? Is there a safe way for queer women to be masculine without embracing the toxic parts of masculinity?

MA·CHO SEN·TI·MEN·TAL

Noun

  1. A human being of either sex; a person. Strongly influenced by

emotional feelings and in contact with male and female forces.

synonymous: human being, human, person, mortal,

individual, personage, soul.

I think we need more education – that is the main problem with the toxic part of masculinity. That is derived in aggressiveness and violent response as we have been taught that masculinity is associated with these terms that need to be broken.

Barbara Sanchez-Kane

You are a lesbian fashion designer who makes menswear. Do you think the phrase “menswear” is outdated now since people of all genders wear what is considered “men’s” or “women’s” clothes?

Sanchez-Kane started as a menswear brand. I use the term menswear just as a marketing strategy in sizing purpose, but as I say, we dress the Macho Sentimental.

Barbara Sanchez-Kane

You used to live in Los Angeles where you interned for German designer Bernhard Willhelm. Do you see his influence on your work or the experience of having lived in Los Angeles in your clothes?

Well, my first collection Citizen Sanchez-Kane was designed based on an old love relationship I had during my time in LA.  So yes all experiences and places influence my work.

Barbara Sanchez-Kane

You’ve created pieces in your fashion line that were inspired/for your mother and in your pop-up in Los Angeles, your mother was there to assist you with the event. You also have an alter-ego called “SOLRAC,” which your father’s name spelled backward. How does your relationship with your parents inform your work?

I couldn’t have built SANCHEZ-KANE without the support of my parents.

Family is the main pillar of my education and will continue to be a presence in the brand. I am so blessed to share all the growth of the brand with them.

Barbara Sanchez-Kane

You publish love poems and journal entries on your Instagram signed with the name “SOLRAC.” The graphics on your clothes feature phrases such as “Mexikanemicorazon” and “Freelance Lover,” along with “Macho Sentimental.” Is Sanchez-Kane a brand for queer romantics?

I am a sentimental romantic 100 percent guided by my inner feelings. I found in clothing the best way to deal with my problems good and bad ones. Is therapeutic and a way of living. Women have always been the starting point to create a world where all the misfits are welcome to join.

Barbara Sanchez-Kane

All photos by Navi.

Trans Women Have Something to Say to Victoria’s Secret After the Company’s Anti-Trans Sentiments

Trans women heard the recent comments made by Victoria’s Secret fashion show executive Ed Razek about trans and plus-size models. They have something to say in response — and recreated a Victoria’s Secret campaign to clap back.

Prior to taping the 2018 show in early November, chief marketing officer Ed Razek responded to a Vogue interview question about the company’s position on including trans and plus-size models in their annual marquee fashion show. Razek’s response, which contained offensive and outdated language, revealed models of size and trans experience are not considered part of the “fantasy” Victoria’s Secret is interested in selling.

INTO invited nine trans women to recreate a Victoria’s Secret campaign, and asked them to share how the Victoria’s Secret’s statement affected them, why the fantasy can’t exist without them, and what makes each woman feel strong, sexy, and powerful out in the world.

Trans supermodel Arisce Wanzer offered this: “Recognizing everything that I’ve done for myself, that’s when I feel the most powerful. I worked really hard to be the person I am. I am living my fantasy.”

Watch the video below.

Photos by Alex Schmider

Victoria’s Secret Executive Apologizes for Anti-Trans Comments Ahead of Annual Fashion Show

A good rule of thumb when doing press for your product — be it a movie, an album, or even a lingerie fashion show — is that you don’t want your brand to come out of the interview looking worse than before. L Brands’ Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek, one of the primary executives on the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, did not exactly keep to this rule of thumb recently.

In a Vogue interview ahead of this year’s Fashion Show, Razek spouted off several transphobic and fatphobic thoughts about why there would be no trans or plus-size models in the show. “I don’t think we can be all things to all customers,” was one such quote. “It is a specialty business; it isn’t a department store.”

Most disturbingly, though, Razek said that the motivation behind not casting trans models — who he refers to as “transsexuals” — is that “the show is a fantasy.” In other words: Being trans automatically excludes you from being part of the Victoria’s Secret fantasy.

Many were quick to slam Razek’s comments online, including actress Trace Lysette and America’s Next Top Model alumna Isis King.

Of course, after the interview went viral, Razek had to release an apology statement on Victoria’s Secret’s Twitter account. “My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive,” the statement reads. “I apologize.”

But then Razek goes on to claim that while they’ve had trans models come in, they’ve not been cast. “Like many others, they didn’t make it,” the statement continues. “But it was never about gender.”

Which sounds fishy and very much not like what he said in the interview! If trans women aren’t part of the Victoria’s Secret “fantasy,” how was their gender orientation not what disqualified them when they auditioned? Somehow we’re doubtful that Razek truly does “admire and respect” trans models.

Advocacy group Model Alliance seems to agree. Saturday afternoon, the group posted a statement to their Instagram account denouncing Razek’s comments. “Such comments create a hostile work environment for people who do not conform to Victoria’s Secret’s mold — one that enforces an idea of female beauty that is predominantly white, cisgender, young and thin,” the group wrote in their statement. “In addition to the brand’s issues with lack of diversity and inclusion, Victoria’s Secret photographers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct by models, which have yet to be adequately addressed.”

View this post on Instagram

We are disappointed by the recent comments about trans and plus-size models made by Ed Razek, CMO of L Brands, Victoria's Secret's parent company. Such comments create a hostile work environment for people who do not conform to Victoria’s Secret’s mold – one that enforces an idea of female beauty that is predominantly white, cisgender, young and thin. In addition to the brand’s issues with lack of diversity and inclusion, Victoria’s Secret photographers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct by models, which have yet to be adequately addressed. If Victoria’s Secret is truly a leader, it will join the RESPECT Program so that models and their colleagues can work in a respectful, accountable and inclusive environment. The RESPECT Code requires that all be treated with dignity and respect on the job, regardless of race, size, or gender identity. This is not the “PC” thing to do – this is best business practice. When any part of our industry is excluded or oppressed, abuse is able to flourish and hurts us all. We can and need to do better. #Time4RESPECT #VictoriasSecret

A post shared by Model Alliance (@modelallianceny) on

“If Victoria’s Secret is truly a leader, it will join the RESPECT Program so that models and their colleagues can work in a respectful, accountable and inclusive environment,” they said, referring to the model protection initiative they launched earlier this year. “The RESPECT Code requires that all be treated with dignity and respect on the job, regardless of race, size, or gender identity. This is not the ‘PC’ thing to do — this is best business practice.”

Image via Getty

This story has been updated.

Literally What Do Straight Nerds Spend Their Money On?

Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, the guy that I’m dating sent me a video from Twitter about a new clothing brand, Cloak, that was marketed especially “for gamers.” I was instantly confused yet amused. Cloak was created by Mark Fischbach and Seán McLoughlin, two gaming personalities who are known as Markiplier and Jacksepticeye online. What a nonsensical idea — why do gamers need their own clothing brand?

“There has never really been a brand out there for people like us, who game all day.” McLoughlin said in the announcement video. “There’s companies out there like Nike, who cater towards athletes. There’s companies like Patagonia who are more for people who want to go outdoors. There’s people like Lululemon who cater towards people who do yoga and things like that, but I don’t really do any of those things.”

McLoughlin goes on to say that he never felt like there was a brand out there that fit him in the same way. I thought this was just hilarious until I clicked the site and saw that every single item was sold out in literally three days.

Now you’ve really lost me. I ask again: Why do people who play games need their own clothing? Athletic wear exists because there are specific fabrics and designs that make it easier for people to work out or keep warm in nature. You don’t need anything specific to sit at your computer or on your couch, I would know because that’s literally all I do. You can wear whatever you want when you’re gaming or you can be like me and wear nothing even though you are playing in the common area of your apartment and your roommates hate you — hey, Marisa and Aaron! Literally half the reason no one wants to go outside is because you have to wear clothes.

Look I get it, I buy some dumb shit, too. My weakness as a gay man is buying cute shit that I’ll never use. Two weeks ago I spent like 40 bucks on a big plushy of Umbreon, a queer legend, sleeping. It’s adorable, I love my child, but I know it’s still dumb. That being said, at least my dumb Pokémon plushy serves a purpose that I can’t get anywhere else. These clothes are just black, grey, reportedly comfortable and have the word “Cloak” on them. I guarantee that you can find equally comfortable clothes at any number of retailers.

OK, straight men, I usually tune you out when you talk, but I’m all ears. I’m trying to understand what would compel someone to spend money on something like this. Cloak isn’t even the only clothing brand targeting gamers. Another company, Ateyo, has the tagline “Look good. Game better,” and frequently use professional gamers and streamers in their advertising.

Ateyo as a brand has slightly more personality so I get the appeal of that, I’m just confused by the concept of branded basics. Why not just get sweatpants? I feel like my mom trying to understand Snapchat.

The only explanation I can make sense of is that people just want to feel included or cool and no matter how dumb something is, the proper advertising will get you on board. So maybe that is the disconnect. It’s not that I don’t understand the product (which I don’t) but it’s about being the appropriate audience for the advertising (which I’m not).

One of the most blatant examples of this is when Ateyo did a parody cover of Lil Pump’s “ESSKEETIT” with a professional Overwatch player. Like I don’t watch that video and want to be associated with that brand; I look at that video and want to throw my computer out the window.

This content feels like it was made for fans of Logan Paul, and perhaps it was, so I am not the one. Which is fine, I don’t need to be the demographic for every advertisement — God knows queer folks are not the demographic for gaming anyway. Straight men, you’re allowed to buy whatever you want, just try to keep it off my timeline.

We Went To Vegas And Asked 15 Stylish Queer People (and Friends) Why Life Is Beautiful

This past weekend, over 175,000 attendees flocked to the 5th annual Life Is Beautiful fest in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas, just a short ways north-east of The Strip, in a part of the city undergoing massive transformation into a cultural hub for and by Millennials.

Between surviving the fuccboi mosh pits at Travis Scott and dancing our asses off with our #QueerFam at Lizzo, we stuffed our faces with food truck fare, took a shot at fire skee-ball, and snapped a million pics with all the colorful, kaleidoscopic murals and immersive art installations produced by Justkids interspersed throughout the festival.

As a “refreshing reprieve from our complicated world,” Life is Beautiful symbolizes “unity, optimism, and creativity,” aligning with everything the LGBTQ community strives for. And the namesake of the fest begged us to pose the simple question: Why is life beautiful?

To get the answer, we found some of the festival’s queer people (and friends) to tell us.

Simon Skold, 30 (@simonwskold)

Performer from Las Vegas

Where along the LGBTQ spectrum do you place yourself?

“Fully gay, all the way gay.”

 

Who are you most excited to see this weekend?

“Lizzo and Odesza.”

 

What makes life beautiful to you?

“As an LGBT, we are some of the most expressive and honest people, and art requires that, it’s beautiful.”

Amanda, 22 (@amandaxmonee) /  Zoee, 21 (@_zoee101)

Student-Waitresses from Palm Springs

Where along the LGBTQ spectrum do you place yourself?

“We’re lesbian.”

 

Who are you most excited to see this weekend?

“Sabrina Claudio and Daniel Caesar had to have been our favorites this weekend.”

 

What makes life beautiful to you?

“The fact that you can be yourself without being judged and feel wholeheartedly like you’re living to your fullest potential as who you are is what I find beautiful as an LGBT.”

“I just love the community. I love the way that all LGBTs make you feel like family.”

Erica, 28 (@wtfrobotsex)

Merchandiser-Nightlife Queen from Las Vegas

Where along the LGBTQ spectrum do you place yourself?

“I don’t identify with sexuality, I go off of vibes, I never know what I’m into until I meet that person that encourages that part of me, so I keep it open.”

 

Who are you most excited to see this weekend?

“N.E.R.D. A landmark for me. Pharrell is the first alternative Black artist I got into that made me feel comfortable about being alternative myself so it was a landmark. And also, Santigold: Female, Black, Alternative… I love it!”

 

What makes life beautiful to you?

“People. Genuine, honest-to-God people. If you are true to yourself and what you wanna do, and who you wanna be, that’s beautiful.”

Shaw, 26 (@thegodrisingsun_)

Insurance Agent from Los Angeles

Who are you most excited to see this weekend?

“T-Pain, the legend, A$AP Ferg, and Tyler The Creator.”

 

What makes life beautiful to you?

“Why is it not? Look at everything. If you take away everything that’s man-made, everything that we built, like this tent, these clothes, everything, this world is beautiful. Everything you need is right there for you. Everything. It’s all in nature. We feel like we need all this protection and extra stuff but all we need is the sun and water, you feel me?”

Romeo, 25 (@garenromeo)

Creative from Las Vegas

Where along the LGBTQ spectrum do you place yourself?

“I’m just a gay cis male.”

 

Who are you most excited to see this weekend?

“Blood Orange.”

 

What makes life beautiful to you?

“Choices. Being an LGBT gives you a lot of choices and a lot of freedom. We have no barriers. Nothing can hold us back, it’s only us. If you’re a straight male you have to live in certain binaries and expectations, but as to being gay we’re just free, we can do whatever the fuck we want, we can eat pussy today, and suck dick tomorrow, just for fun.”

Jacob, 18 (@jaketvillegas)

Student from Central Valley, California

Where along the LGBTQ spectrum do you place yourself?

“I’m gay, just barely entering the community.”

 

Who are you most excited to see this weekend?

“Definitely Florence and The Machine. She’s magical!”

 

What makes life beautiful to you?

“Acceptance. Here everyone’s welcome to be themselves, to wear whatever they want, act however they want, and I just feel like I can be myself around everyone and my family.”

Marcus, 21 (@frank_motion)

Artist-Photographer-Airman in Las Vegas by-way-of North Carolina

Who are you most excited to see this weekend?

“Tyler, The Creator. I’ve been waiting my whole life and it was worth it.”

 

What makes life beautiful to you?

“Getting to know people more. You only see people from what they present to you so whenever you get the chance to actually speak to them, hang out with them, and dig into their mind, it really inspires you to wanna do more, and that can be in any sense, from your hobbies to seeing something from a different perspective. That’s what really drives me, meeting people, learning, and expanding my mind.”

Rod, 22 (@_rsteeez)

Retail Associate from Las Vegas

Where along the LGBTQ spectrum do you place yourself?

“I’m actually straight but I respect the LGBTQ community. Everyone should love each other no matter what.

 

Who are you most excited to see this weekend?

“I’m ready for Ferg.”

 

What makes life beautiful to you?

“Family, friends, and good vibes.”

Thomas 24, (@143.tommy)

Graphic Designer-DJ from Las Vegas by-way-of San Francisco

Where along the LGBTQ spectrum do you place yourself?

“Closer to bi-sexual, but more towards straight.”

 

Who are you most excited to see this weekend?

“Most definitely N.E.R.D., and Travis Scott. Actually, I take that all back… T-Pain.”

 

What makes life beautiful to you?

“That I can be open about my identity. All my friends are here and they understand who I am as a person, and they don’t judge me for being who I am. I feel like that’s the most beautiful thing, that I can be myself around them. And that’s what makes life beautiful, finding friends who understand you completely.”

Davian, 20 (@davian_jordan)

Aspiring Model from Las Vegas

Who are you most excited to see this weekend?

“I’m here for A$AP Ferg, and we just got done seeing Tyler.”

 

What makes life beautiful to you?

“New experiences. Every day can be something new. You can fall in love every day, honestly.”

Steven, 19 (@stevenreese_)

Student from Las Vegas

Who are you most excited to see this weekend?

“Travis Scott, Tyler, the Creator, Miguel, A$AP Ferg.”

 

What makes life beautiful to you?

“Friends and family. You gotta have good support around you. It’s all about the love.”

Quentin Steele 22, (@manofsteele187)

Baller from The Emerald Triangle

Who are you most excited to see this weekend?

“A$AP Ferg.”

 

What makes life beautiful to you?

“Every day is a different experience that you don’t know exactly what’s you’re going to run into like this awesome moment of my life.”

Dus, 21

Creative from “Wherever I’m Needed”

Who are you most excited to see this weekend?

“Honestly I didn’t plan to get in here. I snuck in the past 2 days. Travis, Tyler, and Ferg.”

 

What makes life beautiful to you?

“I do what I want. That’s it.”

Frannie Poonani, 29 (@franniepoonanie)

Little Black Diamond Associate from San Diego

Where along the LGBT spectrum do you place yourself?

“I’m bisexual.”

 

Who are you most excited to see this weekend?

“Odesza.”

 

What makes life beautiful to you?

“Because of everyone that participates in this type of scene, and the love for the music, it’s just so beautiful. We’re all connected, everyone in the world. I think it’s really great that we can all connect in music and we all find this similar need to express ourselves. I just love how everyone can get together and express themselves with their fashion and music and dancing, and everyone has their own little thing they’re about and I love it so much, it’s really fun.”

The Rise of Trans Women Models Has Nothing To Do With ‘Socialization’

A record number of trans and non-binary models walked runways from New York to Paris during this season’s fashion shows, marking a larger, if tenuous, shift in the industry toward more inclusion and acceptance.

The Marc Jacobs and Prabal Gurung runways were graced with Dara Allen while model Teddy Quinlivan walked over a dozen shows for designers like Michael Kors, Chloe and Maison Margiela. The Marco Marco show in New York was especially notable. The designer cast the show with nothing but trans men and women and non-binary people, a global first and a stunning representation of the beauty and diversity of the trans community.

Trans icon and singer Laith Ashley was one of the models chosen to represent the designer’s sexy and over-the-top creations on the runway. Given his opportunity and visibility, it was disheartening to see him part his perfect lips and say the words “trans women who may have been socialized male.”  

During an interview with Mic Dispatch that seemingly dichotomizes the relationship between trans men and women, and suggests that there is some mystical force barring trans men from the hallowed halls of fashion campaigns and runways, editor Evan Ross Katz asks Ashley why trans men are underrepresented and trans women proportionally overrepresented in modeling.    

There’s a patently obvious answer: trans women are, on average, taller than cis women and usually have narrower hips and stronger bone structure — all benefits in modeling. Also, trans men are typically too short to meet the average male model height requirements. But that point seemed lost on Ashley, even though it is brought up later in the piece by Katz. That modeling is a exploitative industry based in the patriarchal commodification of women’s bodies (thus requiring increased female participation) escaped both men.

Instead, Laith articulated a line of thinking almost indistinguishable from an introduction to a White Feminism curriculum or a TERF tweet, collapsing all cis men and trans women (really all people who are assigned male at birth) into one homogenous, teeming mass, Ashley states that trans women “are taught to take up space, to be louder and more boisterous.” News to me.

Speaking for and about the trans community is a huge burden, and not everyone is up to the challenge. What Ashley said was incredibly ill-informed but we cannot ignore the platform he was given by Mic to disparage the lived experiences of trans women. And in the end, his statements only pit trans men and women against each other.

It’s not just modeling where trans women are more visible and take up more space. We’re also overrepresented in porn, sex work, prisons and morgues. More of our names are called during Trans Day of Remembrance, more of us are misgendered when we are murdered, more of us are harassed in bathrooms and gyms, marked as pedophiles and rapists. 

Visibility is not a privilege, and neither is a history of avowedly innocuous male socialization that purportedly offers us protection in our pasts and advantages in our presents. Having a painful past spun as a positive experience is not only insulting and ahistorical but seems like wish fulfillment on the part of Ashley, a fantasy of what his childhood could and should have been like.

Socialization applied to a certain assigned sex is not something that we passively receive; we are not lackadaisical bottoms in this exchange. We, in many ways, enact and police the behaviors of others; we learn how and when to apply pressure to those whose bodies and sensibilities are marked as deviant, as devious. We all learn to become what critical scholar and feminist theorist Sara Ahmed calls the “straightening rod.”   

Ashley here acts as a cis interloper, as a straightening rod, using our painful pasts as a cudgel when we step out of line, are too loud, take up too much space or are more successful. Too often, claiming any male behavior on the part of trans women is a technique designed to shame and silence, and it’s a technique that is borrowed wholesale from cis misogyny. 

Unfortunately, Ashley lacks the wherewithal to turn this analysis on himself or other trans masculine people, choosing instead a truncated argument. His own burgeoning music career, with accompanying blue-lit video, blurred visions of him grinding his hips into a lingerie clad cis woman (who is black with dark skin, thank heaven for small miracles) highlights the fallacy of this totalizing, immutable socialization he implicates upon trans women.

These are not the behaviors of someone who was successfully socialized as stereotypically female. These are not the behaviors of someone who was told to be quiet and internalized it.

Lacking nuance and sophistication is not a crime, and I cannot wholly blame Ashley for ingesting and regurgitating harmful and ignorant stereotypes in an effort to downplay the fact that the real reasons he hasn’t found more mainstream success is due to systems within modeling that require bodies to fit certain characteristics. Socialization has nothing to do with it, especially not that of models who have found more work.

There was an opportunity here for a context-sensitive discussion about the hyper-visibility of trans women and the ways in which trans men are obscured and removed from narratives (sometimes of their own volition), and that opportunity was missed.

Perhaps, in the hands of a more enlightened team, the interview would have been different, but allowing cis people to turn us against each other to compete for meager scraps of attention and affection is not the look.

Alex Black Practices The Erotic Art of Self-Destruction In ‘Gutter Streets’ Music Video

Last year, L.A.-based synthpop artist Alex Black released the Baby EP, a shimmering collection of 80s-flavored nocturnal jams. Today, he debuts the first music video from the collection, an Xavier Hamel-directed widescreen visual for the white-hot disco track “Gutter Streets.” 

The video explores the intersection between queerness and the Freudian death drive, pursuing destruction as a generative force. According to Black, “The death drive is usually thought of as this toxic negative force, but so much of my growth as a person and an artist has come as a result of my self-destructive tendencies towards addiction and self-loathing. The death drive isn’t just negative. And there’s something very queer and powerful about that to me.”

Australian singer/songwriter Sam Sparro found Black on Gchat to discuss his lush, seductive ode to masochistic desire.

Sam Sparro: So I realized we’ve known each other about 15 years now. Do you remember how we got our nicknames for each other “Sprinks” and “Soyinka?”

Alex Black: I think more than 15 years! Pretty sure we had our blind date in 2001 lol.

SS: Oh yeah I totally forgot we had a blind date. I was living in London until 2002, so it must have been right after I moved to LA.

AB: And yes, of course I remember. We had a side project around that time called Rainbow Sprinkles. Our only song was “My Cell Phone, I Lost It” and it was a hilarious mess. Rainbow Sprinkles became “Sprinks,” and then a fateful autocorrect turned it to “Soyinka” at some point.

SS: Yeah our little side project—I remember we were really inspired by Fanny Pack and Le Tigre.

AB: Hahahaha, I forgot about Fanny Pack. Yes we were.

SS: So you were studying cultural anthropology at UCLA when I met you. Do you think your education has affected how you make music and the way you present it visually?

AB: Hmm that’s a good question. I was taking a lot of ethnomusicology classes at the time and was interested in a lot of different types of world music. It definitely made me a voracious listener and collector of music, I became obsessed with all these niche subgenres of music I was discovering at the time like Ethiopian Tizita and stuff like that. So I think it taught me how to listen to and absorb music in a way that has stayed with me.

SS: I definitely think of you as someone with a broad taste and knowledge of music. What were the biggest influences on the Baby EP, which I absolutely love btw.

AB: Aw thanks Sprinks. Baby is really a product of about a decade of obsessive music consumption and collecting. I ran this music blog Death Wears White Socks for many years, something I started back when music blogs were first having their moment. I’d post lots of lost cuts from cold wave, neue deutsche welle, italo disco, postpunk.

SS: Yes! I remember!

AB: I would obsessively track down lost stuff on vinyl, rip it to MP3, and upload it to the internet so people could hear it. So a lot of those genres—minimal synth, Belgian new beat, German new wave—you can definitely hear those influences on Baby.

SS: It’s interesting to me how we have so much A.I. trying to predict what we like and presenting us with what it thinks we should like. It’s really taken the human element out of musical selection. You have to be vigilant in curating your musical diet now. How do you find and hear most of your music these days? I have to admit I’ve gotten a little complacent.

AB: Same. I used to spend so much time researching and discovering new music. This was before algorithms were serving it to us, so you really had to work for it. People prided themselves on the unique stuff that they and they alone would discover, and sharing that felt really special and valuable. Now everyone has access to everything, which is great, but it has definitely changed the experience of discovering music.

SS: Haha. “Discovering” what an algorithm is presenting to you…

AB: I also rely on the young Gen Z kids I work with to keep me up to speed lol. “Teach grandpa about the cool music of today” type of thing.

SS: The thing is there’s so much fantastic music being made today but the mainstream playlists are pretty terrible. Anyway, not going to start bashing radio music. It’s futile. Tell me about the concept for the video.

AB: Yes, the video. So I worked with this director Xavier Hamel, who I know loosely through CalArts, where we both studied. He’s done videos for Bebe Huxley and some other cool queer folx and he liked the song, so we got together and just started kind of comparing notes on the various things we were into. We quickly discovered that we were both absolutely obsessed with the Duran Duran video for “Chauffeur,” which, if you haven’t seen it, watch it—it’s gorgeous.

SS: That’s so weird. I was in a side project with Mark Ronson called “Chauffeur” that we named after the Duran Duran song and we performed it with Duran Duran and I totally fucked up the lyrics and was mortified.

AB: Hahahahah. Of course you performed it with Duran Duran, NBD! And I’m sure you killed it. The video is sort of like this surreal brutalist love triangle between these two incredibly stylish women and a male chauffeur who are all headed for some sort of rendezvous. When they arrive in this concrete parking structure, the chauffeur suddenly becomes a topless woman and they all engage in this mesmerizing sapphic dance. It’s really chic and beautiful, but also very much a product of the male gaze—essentially the straight male fantasy of lesbian love, which we didn’t love. So we decided to put our own queer spin on it and give it a bit more agency.

SS: There’s kind of a Pierre et Gilles feel to some of the shots and kind of a Gregg Araki/Jim Jarmusch ‘90s indie cinema feel as well.

AB: Xav (the director) and I both love all of those references, and I’m sure they crept in, but our visual inspirations were definitely more ‘70s/’80s. In addition to “Chauffeur” we were channeling the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, especially The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant, which has these sort of lush, faded, tragic interior settings. We really wanted to juxtapose those velvety interiors with the ’80s concrete brutalism of “Chauffeur.”

SS: I find it strange that queer people have more visibly and acceptance than ever before but we have so few cultural superstars, especially in music, these days. Why do you think that is?

AB: I mean, the closet for one, and also this sort of retrograde notion that coming out can kill your entertainment career. If anything, the opposite feels true right now!

SS: Lol

AB: I also think that a lot of our most talented queer artists haven’t always played to the masses, and so sometimes they achieve a sort of cult status instead of mainstream stardom. Which is great, but it’s also nice to see some really visible queer superstars coming into their own.

SS: Well, I’m super excited for people to get to see the video—it’s really gorgeous. The EP is so perfect and I’m so honored to have shot the cover photo!

AB: Thanks Sprinks! It feels good to get it out there. I work full time as a writer so it took a really long time to get this project out there into the world—hence the name Baby lol.

SS: Totes. See you at my wedding bitch.

AB: SEE YOU AT YOUR WEDDING BITCH!

www.alxblck.com

Was This New York Fashion Week The Queerest Season Ever?

The energy behind New York Fashion Week is always palpable, as Manhattan is the first city to kick off the Spring/Summer 2019 season.

From my perspective as a Londoner, New York City always gets a reputation for being too serious and too ‘fashion’ for its own good. But this season, NYFW brought queer energy in abundance. The queerness that oozed from the catwalk — and from the audience — was hard to miss this season.

Tokenism and the debate behind inclusivity on the runway is always a topic of conversation. However, something felt different this year. Authenticity felt rooted in all that we saw; the art was unapologetic. Members of our communities were using their own voice to channel true fashion moments.

Chromat: In their own words, this season’s show was based around the idea of the wet T-shirt. They reclaimed the experience of both being body-conscious, and then owning it on the runway.

Sheer, knee-length T-shirt dresses cling to the bodies of models of all kinds, in one of the most diverse castings of a show we saw this season. Elegance, confidence and power shone through, as the dresses clung and showed the models and their undergarments at their finest. It’s real and honest, and is a genuine representation of the Chromat customer.

Their inclusion of all bodies was a perfect thing to witness, as people of different skin tones, abilities, sizes, genders and more showed their inner power through Chromat’s collection. Erika Hart, a sexual education worker and powerhouse, stormed the runway, revealing her mastectomy scars. It was a true act of ‘this is me, take it or leave it,’ leaving a lasting impression on the star-studded front row.

Opening Ceremony: Queer icon and RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Sasha Velour revealed that she’d personally picked 40 LGBTQIA+ models to walk the runway for the Opening Ceremony SS19 show. As I vicariously watched via Munroe Bergdorf’s Instagram story, I sat in amazement at the queer expertise that was on display. Sasha started the show with a poignant speech discussing the importance of queer inclusion within fashion and the arts, setting the mood to that of powerful queer excellence. Drag Race alumni sashayed their way down the runway, down the tiny steps into the crowds and back on stage as they mingled and danced as a collective. The likes of Miss Fame, Jiggly Calliente, and Shea Coulée performed in stunning custom gowns, setting up for a finale from the true diva herself, Christina Aguilera. The end of the show formed itself into a magical group performance alongside Xtina, as they all moved and intertwined together, showing just how powerful a group of LGBTQIA+ creatives can be.

Siriano FROW

Christian Siriano: Endorsements from designers usually focus on other brands being emblazoned across garments. But Siriano decided to endorse an all together very different organization this season in his SS19 collection: support for Cynthia Nixon, displayed on T-shirts throughout the collection. It was almost hilarious, considering she was sat front row, amid a group of iconic female celebrities, including Whoopi Goldberg and Judith Light. The political statements also featured on the runway again in a more subtle way in their casting choices, as diversity and inclusion was seamlessly and perfectly infiltrated, with models of all sizes and races displaying their beauty. Nico Tortorella also featured, grabbing the spotlight in a sheer dress and corset. Again, another very well put together show that speaks of the zeitgeist of the moment.

The Blonds

The Blonds: Themed runways seem to be a little hit or miss for critics — but what’s not to love about a Disney Villains collaboration stomping the runway? The Blonds did not disappoint, with what arguably could be described as one of the most dramatic and star-studded catwalks of the season. Paris Hilton holding her tiny dog, marching the catwalk in a black-and-white Cruella De Vil-inspired ensemble, ticks all the goddamn boxes. Queer faces walking included Isshehungry, Desmond Napoles (the 10-year-old drag superstar known as ‘Desmond Is Amazing’), and Austin Smith (@empty.pools). Again, high energy, powerful femme concepts and heels higher than the sequin budget. Stunning.

Telfar: After showing a preview show in London in August, Telfar shared with us their SS19 lineup through a gender-fluid retrospective of the ’60s and ’70s. The all-black show was based around the concept of ‘Not for you, for everyone,’ a sentiment that was maybe used for their London show due to the turbulent goings on regarding Brexit in the UK. However, the political statement surely correlated with the US audience and press, as they stood in rainy Brooklyn to watch an unapologetically black and excellent show of ’70s orange and pastels, on black, high-waisted, smart trousers and clean white vests.

Gypsy Sport: As a devoted Munroe Bergdorf stan, my eyes and ears were primed and ready for the Gypsy Sport Runway. Self describing themselves as ‘uniting through individuality’, the runway was transformed into a mystical other world of fairies, nymphs and magical and very fashionable creatures. A mixture of diverse and beautiful models stormed the runway in another array of realistic expectations for bodies, and also realistic expectations of fashion. It allowed the hierarchy of fashion to be torn down, and for it to become accessible for all. Saying that, the models had hair made of grass, and dresses made of belts, but this is New York. Embracing the wild and having no limits on creativity is what it’s all about.

These brands and houses have queerness in their DNA. Their ethos is queer, and their brands always push boundaries and don’t see issue in creating a statement every season, but there was something different about it all this season.

The energy was coming from the right place, like it always has been, but what it was was the entrepreneurial spirit that we as queer people have to make our shows the biggest and best that they can be. We know that we have to work ten times harder to have our collections seen or watched, and by putting in the hard work, these amazing designers have had their work showcased with what seems like the most press ever.  What we, as a community, are always saying to brands that use us in their creations is to make it authentic and allow us to take the reigns and be at the helm of the creative decisions, and that’s exactly what happened this season.

That’s why we are all gagging for more, and more importantly, why this representation of our beautiful creative bodies and minds means that hopefully, the fashion industry at large will take notice.

Images via Getty and Elvin Tavarez

Front Row At Sasha Velour’s NYFW Drag Show For Opening Ceremony

All of your RuPaul’s Drag Race fav’s were present at the Opening Ceremony spring 2019 show.

The fashion show hosted by Season 9 Winner Sasha Velour during New York Fashion Week, featured a slew of Drag Race Queens including Miss Fame, Shea Couleé, Jiggly Caliente, Farrah Moan, and 40+ LGBTQ models.

The audience was also treated to a surprise performance by pop diva Christina Aguilera who seems to be popping up wherever drag queens are found lately.

Other stars in attendance were Alok Vaid-Menon, Miss Nicki Minaj, and even Whoopi Goldberg.

Photos by Elvin Tavarez

Marco Marco’s New York Fashion Week Show Featured an All-Trans Model Runway

When Marco Marco unveiled his Collection 7 at Style Fashion Week. on Saturday, the only category being walked on the runway was trans excellence. That’s because, in a remarkable display reported by OUT in their photo essay, all the models who walked the runway were trans models.

This included bold-faced names like Gigi Gorgeous, the YouTuber and influencer, who walked a bold magenta skirt while wearing a lime green wig.

View this post on Instagram

MARCO MARCO💚

A post shared by GIGI GORGEOUS 👸🏼 (@gigigorgeous) on

Actress Trace Lysette was among the models in the show, too. She thanked Marco Marco “for embracing ALL types of beauty” in the show on Twitter.

Some of INTO‘s team saw the show live, which included Pose star Dominique Jackson walking. The model and actress has been busy this New York Fashion Week, walking in the Blonds and Adrian Alicea shows as well. On the Marco Marco runway, she worked a black dress and blonde wig in a fashion that would make Elektra Abundance positively squeal.

The Marco Marco runway is a radically inclusive moment for an industry that seems increasingly cognizant that trans models are the future of fashion. So far, the industry has been taking steps toward more trans-inclusive runways, but this show is a leap.

Watch the full runway presentation below.