20 LGBTQ+ fashion icons who lit up the runway & served some serious style

lgbtq+ fashion feat image
Photo: Shutterstock

A wise man once said, “Fashion! Turn to the left! Fashion! Turn to the right! Ooh, fashion!” And if there’s anyone holding true to those words, it’s the LGBTQ+ fashion icons we adore.

Fashion has always been a collaboration between the designers creating great new looks and the models showing them off. No matter which side of the runway they’re on, these 20 icons definitely turned heads in the world of LGBTQ+ fashion.

1. Tracey “Africa” Norman

Transgender model Tracey “Africa” Norman makes a triumphant return to Clairol.

Tracey “Africa” Norman is the first Black transgender model, according to Clairol. She was one of the top models of the ’80s until the industry found out she had transitioned at 18, and she was blacklisted. But in 2016, she made a return to the industry, out and proud.

2. Andreja Pejić

Supermodel Andrea Pejić started her modeling career before her transition, and she was celebrated as the top genderqueer model, showing off both male and female fashions. But in 2014, she publicly transitioned while on top of the fashion world — and stayed there. Unlike what happened to Norman, designers in the 2010s realized what a talent they had and they weren’t dumb enough to throw it away for such a stupid reason as transphobia.

3. Barry Brandon

Barry Brandon, The Queer Indigo Instagram screenshot
Barry Brandon, known online as The Queer Indigo, realized after receiving eight open-heart surgeries that they needed to live as authentically as possible. Their authenticity takes the form of showing off their amazing looks on Instagram, and on the streets of the world’s top cities.

4. Christian Siriano

christian siriano lgbtq+ fashion

Christian Siriano has gone from Project Runway to become a designer to the stars. During the pandemic, he pivoted from high-fashion accouterments to making masks and PPE for New York state and fundraising for his staff. He’s just generally a class act all around.

5. Myles Sexton

Myles Sexton
Myles Sexton Provided
Fashion model and online influencer Myles Sexton uses their platform to advocate for the queer community. They use their Instagram and TikTok following to talk about HIV, staying sober, and how important it is to use inclusive language. Sexton might not walk runways as often as they used to, but whenever they do, they show off just by being true to themselves.

6. Andrea Cammarosano

Italian designer Andrea Cammarosano wows runway audiences with his experimental style. Some could compare his fashions to the more out-there creations by Comme Des Garçons, but honestly, Cammarosano stands alone. He says he sees “creativity as a ritual act; a moment that connects us with one another.”

7. Hari Nef

Hari Nef is the first out transgender person to appear in a L’Oréal ad campaign. L'Oréal via YouTube
Hari Nef may have been L’Oréal’s first trans model, but right now, she’s probably most known as Doctor Barbie in the recent Greta Gerwig film based on the iconic doll. She’s continuing her acting career, having landed the role of Warhol muse Candy Darling in an upcoming biopic.

8. Manny MUA

Manny MUA Headshot
Manny MUA, 28, is a queer make-up artist and LGBTQ activist based out of Los Angeles, CA. Screenshot//
Manny Gutierrez, aka Manny MUA, has the honor of being Maybelline’s first male model. He broke out on social media before hooking up with Maybelline, getting over 10 million followers across his platforms. He also founded Lunar Beauty, which has collaborated with other big makeup brands.

9. Zac Posen

Zac Posen attends the 44th Chaplin Award Gala, May 18, 2017. via. lev radin /
Zac Posen‘s got a wide roster of people who’ve worn his looks, including Rihanna and Michelle Obama. He’s worked with Brooks Brothers, Target, and Sean John and has also judged Project Runway for six seasons. As of this year, he’s the creative director of Gap and the chief creative officer for Old Navy.

10. Rob Smith/The Phluid Project

rob smith phluid
Rob Smith (l) said the plan for the store came from his own personal journey of discovery, beginning last year. Facebook/Rob Smith
Rob Smith owns The Phluid Project, a clothing label devoted to the non-binary community. Smith opened a “gender-free” boutique in New York City in 2018, which Smith says is the first such store in the world. For those not in NYC, The Phluid Project also sells its wares online.

11. Laith Ashley

Laith Ashley
Laith Ashley screenshot
Laith Ashley is one of the most prominent trans male models. He has shown up in a Taylor Swift video, modeled clothing by Marco Marco, and was even part of the pit crew on RuPaul’s Drag Race. He has also spoken out against transphobia he faced — for example, when Diesel took down his images from a campaign photographed by David La Chapelle in the face of negative comments.

12. Godoy

Godoy made a name for themselves in Netflix’s Next in Fashion. Not only are they a designer of eye-catching outfits, they’re also a drag queen — originally Beverly Luxe, they now go by the name Godoy in and out of drag. He has designed for Gottmilk, Monet X Change, and Naomi Smalls, among others.

13. Teddy Quinlivan

Like Tracey Norman above, Teddy Quinlivan started her modeling career while in the closet — but in 2017, she came out as transgender on CNN. She came out as a blow against Trump, who was rolling back LGBTQ+ protections and making hay out of homophobia in his continuing bid to appeal to the worst people in the world.

14. Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs is one of the biggest names in fashion, and has been for 40 years. To list the names of those he’s dressed would just be a “who’s who” in the entertainment industry, but a few of the most recent faces in his 2024 Spring/Summer campaign are Dakota Fanning, Lil Uzi Vert, and FKA Twigs.

15. Anjali Lama

In this Feb. 2, 2017 photo, Anjali Lama, a transgender model from Nepal, stands backstage at the Lakme Fashion week in Mumbai, India. AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool
Nepali model Anjali Lama is one of the first transgender models to become a big name in India’s fashion scene.  She grew up as one of five children in a poor farming family, but moved to Kathmandu as a teen. There, she hooked up with the Nepali LGBTQ+ organization, the Blue Diamond Society, which gave her the courage to come out as trans.

16. Mondo Guerra

Armando Thomas “Mondo” Guerra may have come in second on Season 8 of Project Runway, but he won the first All Stars season. His love of fashion was spurred by the rave scene, and it shows in his vibrant designs. He’s also designed for some Drag Race queens, including Shea Coulee and Rosé.

17. Brad Goreski

Brad Goreski is the stylist to the stars. Many celebrities, like Demi Moore, swear by his work, and he’s the reason why she served so hard in Ryan Murphy and Gus Van Sant’s Feud: Capote Vs. the Swans as the tragic Ann Woodward.

18. Valentina Sampaio

Valentina Sampaio, Victoria's Secret, transgender model
Valentina Sampaio Valentina Sampaio's Instagram
Valentina Sampaio was the cover model for Elle Brazil in 2016, and the trans model even got the endorsement of Lea T, the first transgender model to grace the cover of Elle Brazil in 2011. Sampaio’s Instagram is full of her great covers for Brazilian magazines like Vogue. She was the first out transgender model for Victoria’s Secret following the 2019 scandal when its chief marketing officer Ed Razek said trans models would never represent the company. Razek has since been kicked to the curb, and Sampaio is here to stay.

19. Ady Del Valle

Ady Del Valle is a plus-size non-binary model who uses both he/him and she/her pronouns. He’s modeled for The Phluid Project (see above), as well as Sephora and Patrick Church. He’s also launched The Latinx Creative project bringing eyes to Latinx creative people from different industries.

20. Dara Allen

Trans fashion icon Dara Allen has styled campaigns for Calvin Klein, and modeled for Marc Jacobs while she was still unsigned to an agency. She also styled Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for her 2002 GQ cover, and was behind Troye Sivan‘s looks in the “One of Your Girls” video.

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