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Queer fashion practice and the camp tactics of Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY

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This article focuses on the collections of London-based, Glaswegian designer Charles Jeffrey who has won plaudits for his spectacular, subversive, theatrical and highly camp catwalk shows. His label LOVERBOY ‐ having grown out of an East London club night of the same name ‐ brings together eclectic historical references with the stylistic bricolage of the queer scene from which it emerged. Using a combination of image analysis and a semi-structured interview with Jeffrey, this article investigates how he has blurred the boundaries between the nightclub and the runway, the collective and the named designer to formulate a distinctly queer mode of fashion practice. At LOVERBOY the transformative possibilities of the nightclub; the heightened emotion of the dance floor; and the embodied, affective, temporal qualities of ‘queer sociality’ are transposed onto the catwalk, revealing the role of fashion and clothing in practices of queer world-making. Camp aesthetics and queer nightlife have played a crucial role in the history of fashion ‐ perhaps most notably during the 1980s when designers like Bodymap, Jean Paul Gaultier and Stephen Linard drew extensively on queer signifiers in their work. However, the success of LOVERBOY marks a shift in contemporary cultures of gender as discourses of queerness and performativity reach a new point of amplification. After the seriousness, refinement and minimalism of millennial fashion, the liminality, polysemy and exuberance of camp has again reasserted its transgressive potential.

Keywords: Charles Jeffrey; camp; club culture; dance floor; nightlife; queer fashion practice

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000085170017University of the Arts London

Publication date: December 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • Critical Studies in Men's Fashion examines the multi-faceted dimensions of men's appearance. It uses the holistic definition of dress as a means of examining the tangible and intangible aspects of creating and maintaining appearance. This journal is the first to exclusively focus on men's dress and topics of gender, identity, sexuality, culture, marketing and business will be discussed. Men's dress and fashion have been side-lined in scholarship, and this journal provides a dedicated space for the discussion, analysis, and theoretical development of men's appearance from multiple disciplines. All articles are blind-peer reviewed in order to maintain the highest standards of scholastic integrity. Theoretical and empirical scholarship in the form of original articles, manuscripts, research reports, pedagogy, and media reviews are welcome.
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