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From boy babe half-tops to uniform looks, queers once set trends the straights aped. OutUK's Adrian Gillan asks top style gurus whether we're now just a clichéd bunch of dead-end clones while straight-boy Beckham is more gay than gay, so has homo-fashion lost its way?

Nicola Formichetti Menswear Editor, Dazed & Confused

The gay clone look - shaved head and combats - is not fashion. It's been there a long time. It's what straights and neo-Nazis were wearing back in the 80s. Gay gays copied and maybe subverted it. But it's not fashion.

There is a new generation of kids though - mostly gay - who are a neo-Popstarz crowd who read the latest magazines and go to hot events. It's an 80s/90s look, with a bit of New York and Berlin thrown in too. They are more experimental, will use makeup and are into music, art and fashion. I think they do influence 'advanced' straight culture with their haircuts and accessories.

I've also noticed young gay guys wearing what straight hip hop boys wear - only better. Again, it's gay guys who copy straight guys and turn it into a fantasy and make it perfect. It's like a parody of being straight. They're better at dressing straight than the straight boys themselves.

99% of male fashion designers are gay. I know lots of them. They tend to go into the realms of pure fantasy when they design for women and then produce what they would love to wear themselves when designing for men.

Catherine Hayward Fashion Editor, GQ

When I'm travelling back home past the Vauxhall Tavern in summer I see lots of guys with shaven heads spilt out onto the pavement. But I don't think there's just one gay look. Lots of my friends are gay: one guy is into the 'city' suit look and one couple I know are old fashioned and into 30s deco.

I think many gay men have a 'faff factor' - they can be very fussy and self conscious. It's a generalisation but many are quite peacockish. They certainly make an effort. That's a characteristic shared by David Beckham who cares about how he looks, in a 'gay way', and has even made caring respectable. He has made male vanity a virtue.

And Beckham makes his own choices, not some team of designers. He experiments with a real sense of enjoyment and has made a big impact on the mainstream. When we shot him he asked for an American 'Gatsby' look. Maybe other straight guys who are set in their ways are jealous and feel threatened, thinking: why can't I try that. Maybe that's why they call him 'gay'.

Tony Lewis Fashion Editor, Esquire

I don't think David Beckham's look can be described as gay. It's more about naïve experimentation. And when anyone experiments, they sometimes get it wrong. I think if Beckham got it right all the time, he wouldn't be called a gay icon, because I think, outside gay circles, it's his detractors who call him 'gay'. It's a homophobic undercurrent from straight guys who are too afraid to experiment.

I think there are a variety of gay looks out on the streets and not just in clubs. It's about creativity. I think gay men are often particularly experimental with accessories like belts, hats and boots, and even make-up. They're also not afraid to show some skin, and not only if they're muscled.

And of course a large number of people involved in creating fashion and design are themselves gay - from McQueen to Galliano - so any gay looks are quite likely to reach a more mainstream audience that way too. So I think gay men have made a big contribution to fashion.

It's not about being effeminate: it's about being adventurous and not being afraid to challenge gender stereotypes and things. Most straight men still find that hard to do.

Photography by Andrew Swaine courtesy www.andrewswaine.com.

 

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