The first annual Queer Fashion Show of The Claremont Colleges, sponsored by the Queer Resource Center and Pomona College’s Sustainability Office, celebrated and showcased the fashion styles of LGBTQ+ students at Doms Lounge April 21.
Carol Ambriz PO ’21 and Diego Zaragoza PO ’21 orchestrated the event.
“For queer folks and trans folks, our clothes are how we present ourselves to the world,” said Ambriz, who was wearing makeup and a colorful flower crown.
Zaragoza had the idea to host the event because of his love for fashion.
“I’m obsessed with ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ so during the runways [on the show] every week, I’m like, ‘I want to do this, I want to do that,’” Zaragoza said. “We were like, ‘Other people would love to do this too.’”
Colorful lights and music set the mood, with chairs on both sides of a mini runway. An enthusiastic crowd of 5C students sat in the audience and mingled, enjoying the show and the refreshments.
Erin Mathieu PZ ’21 attended the event to support her friends and become more involved in the 5C queer community.
“My favorite part was hearing the cheering of the crowd as people walked down the runway,” Mathieu wrote in an email to TSL. “Everyone was so supportive and enthusiastic about the hard work of their friends and peers!”
Alfonso Casares PO ’20 played the role of emcee, introducing each model as they strolled down individually, struck a pose, and walked back into the dressing area to the sound of roaring applause and cheers from students.
“Everyone had a blurb they made about their outfit: how it represents their queerness, sustainability, what it means to them,” Zaragoza said.
Zaragoza exhibited three outfits, which he described as “post-apocalyptic,” “‘fuck you’ to machismo,” and “emo Jackie Kennedy,” respectively.
Some outfits incorporated pieces by student designers, including jean jackets decorated with art painted by Devon Horn PO ’18. Other students provided clothing for models to wear.
Some of the models created their own unique looks by incorporating the sustainability theme. They found clothes in unique ways: recycling from their mothers’ closets, thrifting, borrowing from the QRC’s donation closet, or even sewing scarves together, to name a few.
Ambriz hoped the show would demonstrate how LGBTQ+ students represent themselves through their clothes.
“Sometimes we [LGBTQ+ folks] wear a certain outfit to signal something,” Ambriz said. “We’re exploring with this idea of, ‘how [do] our clothes tell us who we are, how do we get rid of binaries, how do we let men wear things that are typically associated with women?’”
Mathieu said she learned a lot from the experience with other peers.
“I definitely think I got a stronger sense of community out of the queer fashion show, as well as a lot of respect for the students who worked so hard to put it on,” she said.
Zaragoza said it took a lot of work to plan and prepare the show, but that the process was worth it. He hoped people learned about the queer community through the medium of fashion, adding that clothing “has a lot of power.”
“I feel like clothing and style is very much something that’s packed with so much to say when it comes to gender politics, sexuality, and self-expression, for a community that’s been marginalized forever,” Zaragoza said.
Ambriz also wished the fashion show had inspired attendees to feel more comfortable expressing themselves.
“I hope people were like, ‘I’m going to play around with what I wear now and do whatever I want,’” Ambriz said. “I hope people just understand that folks like us, LGBT folks, do a lot to make space for ourselves, and part of that is through our fashion.”