Lizzo's "Worship" was the perfect anthem to open up DapperQ's sixth annual runway performance at the Brooklyn Museum on Thursday. Anita Dolce Vita, founder, creative director, and editor-in-chief of DapperQ, calls the multi-brand platform "a queer fashion revolution." And that's exactly how the experience felt. The multi-designer show was a marathon celebration of bodies, centering queerness and identities that have been historically marginalized by the mainstream fashion world.
As the models — diverse in size, age, body ability, race, ethnicity,and gender presentation — claimed the runway, the environment became a worship service of sorts. Everyone in attendance left their golf claps and approving nods at the door. It was all affirmative hollers, hands in the air, and, if you're an easily emotional spectator like me, a lot of happy tears. Because unfortunately, this is not the norm.
Even though hundreds have come out to support the event each year, the show is not yet recognized by the CFDA as part of Fashion Week. Inclusivity in mainstream fashion is still somewhat in its early years, often marketed as a trend rather than a form of authentic representation. But inside the venue on Thursday night, there was nothing but uplifting and inclusive energy, validating everyone's right to belong, take up space, and look good as hell while doing it.
The showcase featured colorful, playful looks from designer Claire Fleury's collection "HELLO I LIVE HERE," a prideful display of TomboyX underwear for all, uniquely tailored pieces from Sharpe Suiting, and designs from seven other inclusive brands.
It's clear that the models weren't there just to display the clothes. The show was just as much about celebrating their beauty and diversity as it was about celebrating the designers and their creations.
Model and influencer Jazzmyne Jay talked about her experience serving bougie country club style in Sharpe Suiting's designs. From the initial fittings to the final walk down the runway in her own red sneakers, Jay was very much involved in the creative process.
"I put that scarf on, I put the coat on, I put the hat on and then I was like, 'Okay, I feel rich.'" And then last second I put on my pointed cat eye sunglasses and I was like, 'Can I please wear these?'"
The designer's response? "You have creative freedom to do whatever you want." Then, Ellen Ford, the designer behind the look, told Jay to go out on the runway and dance like she would in her room.
It's no surprise that this was the general energy backstage.
"We were just loving on each other and just supporting everybody doing their thing. It's so open and so opposite what I could only imagine fashion week is like," Jay said.
That's how it felt out in the audience too, like an overwhelmingly positive fashion utopia. The experience at the DapperQ show gives Jay hope that the fashion world will continue to get better and that this kind of inclusive environment will become a more widespread reality. Spaces like this just need a little more attention.
"I wish it could go just a little bit further and start getting a little more traction, because those of us that have been there at least once or twice like we know, this is fucking amazing," Jay said. "And it's a great way to start the week because this week can be very elitist and toxic, especially for our community that is not always accepted in fashion."
Photography: The Street Sensai