Queering the Suit

Queering the Suit

 This image evokes an idea within tailoring regarding the 'perfect line' as to emphasize a visually pleasing shape. Why are ‘jagged lines’ potentially considered unappealing? What would be so wrong about queering the traditional notions of perfection within traditional tailoring practices? In which a successful tailor can visualize the line before cutting. Lines are meant to emphasize elegant and flattering shapes on the body, yet we might ask ourselves who dictates this. 


When drawing parallels between aesthetically pleasing design lines and the perfection-driven ideas of the tailoring industry. Once the topic came to fruition, regarding tailors that were already exploring the queer lines within tailoring and thought of two very talented designers: Thom Browne and Walter Van Bierendonck.

The tailored shorts were developed to explore the relationship between the tailored suit and the body in conjunction with the concept of queering lines. To clarify, this project refers to the queering of design and the reconstruction of the suit. The creative portion, is structured around normative masculinity and the roles we encompass within the Western social contract (Brajato 49). Fashion today is an example of sartorial development rather than a gender issue, as both sexes choose to experiment with feminine design elements (Lee et al. 2). 


In order to contextualize current sartorial practices, it is important to recognize the suit's history. The tailored suit came to fruition within the fourteenth century (Breward 13) and was typically made up of “a long sleeve, buttoned jacket with lapels and pockets, a sleeveless waistcoat or vest worn underneath the jacket (if three-piece) and long trousers” (Breward 10). The tailoring process was known for its complexity, negotiation of skill, and proved to have endless variation (Breward 13). Irregular body types with asymmetrical shapes would often be smoothed with wool or padding, which would be sculpted to the body using steam and heavy irons (Matthews-David 1). The concept of reconfiguring shapes on the body speaks to the queering of the design in order to achieve a desired result. Exploring the notion of queering through current designers, similar parallels are drawn within Walter Van Bierendonck’s work, as he consistently explores normative methodology of tailoring with the queer approach to design. Van Bierendonck explores the hegemonic notions of the male identity within a suit, as well as gender fluidity through design. His design aesthetic sits perched on the borderline of fashion and performance, creating corporeal experiences for the viewer as they watch the Fashion show unfold. Rather than focusing his efforts on homogenized perfection, he bastardizes his tailoring with gender confusion and bold graphics (Brajato 56). Complementary to Van Bierendonck’s designs is Thom Browne, an American designer with a similar goal. Browne turns the archetype of the traditional suit wearer upside down. Through monochromatic colour palettes and a more traditionally tailored aesthetic, he revolutionizes the traditional suit. Browne is known for a shrunken silhouette, consisting of slender form and short tapered pants. However, through the years his collections have explored extravagant proportions, through large jackets and cubist sport coats (Lee et al. 15). 

Exploring queer design lines within this creative project, design principles are  contemplated and we are challenged to consider, what makes a line beautiful? Tailors are taught to realize beautiful lines that will sit perfectly on the body, yet queer lines yield the most interesting results.




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