Welcome back to Style Dossier, Gabrielle Royal’s column that profiles stylish queers across the country. This edition, Gabrielle is doubling your sartorial pleasure, featuring the very stylish Lana Danielyan, who is styled by partner Aeryn Michelle.
Aeryn Michelle, stylist, is a pursuing filmmaking where she writes and directs. “I came out the womb wanting to wear ‘boy clothes’ and my love of menswear never left.”
Lana Danielyan, model, is an ex-lawer turned actor.
The two began collaborating after an incident where a guy remarked “Is that a boy or a girl?” in reference to Lana. Lana was hurt by the comment, but Aeryn suggested maybe [Lana] use it to her advantage, and thus they began experimenting with style blogging in the androgynous realm!
Aeryn, stylist (left) and Lana, model (right)
dapperQ: Who are your biggest fashion icons and why?
Aeryn: Definitely Denny Balmaceda (@denny623). He’s a blogger I’ve watched mature and evolve since 2009! He can do street, dapper, casual, 50s, 90s; he’s just super talented and has an amazing eye for piecing items together.
Lana: My biggest fashion icon is Mila Kunis. She has a very simple style, but it’s chic and clean. She also floats between high femme and tomboyish with ease.
dapperQ: How much of your personal style is influenced by your identity?
Aeryn: Since I was young (4-5 years old) I never liked women’s clothes, so my choice in clothes was always “boy.” At the time, this was not linked to my sexuality; only as I got older did people start to point out that I dressed in “male” clothes and a girl shouldn’t do that. My style is independent of everything else. Yes, I am a gay woman. But, if I were straight, my choice in expression would not change. Come to think of it, I’ve always been queer. We just didn’t have the words for it back then!
Lana: As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more in tune with my identity. That in turn has pushed me to experiment with various styles that I wouldn’t have back in my early 20s. I’m being braver in my choice of expression, regardless of the criticism.
dapperQ: Why is queer visibility important and how does fashion help create space for members of our community?
Aeryn: Queer visibility is super important. It scares people because it challenges what they think they know about gender and orientation and that’s difficult. Look at people like Ruby Rose, Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner whose existence is challenging what many people believe about gender. Fashion helps because it’s another medium for the expression. I can make a film about a queer person’s life or someone can just exist in queer form and that challenges everyone they come into contact with.
Lana: Coming from a very traditional culture that is strict about gender roles, queer visibility is important to educate people that one’s choice of style is solely a form of expression and can be independent of sexual identity. I like the RuPaul quote “We’re all born naked, the rest is just drag.”
dapperQ: Tell us about your biggest fashion and/or shopping fail!
Aeryn: I wore suspenders with a belt back in high school, then later learned you don’t do that.
dapperQ: What advice would you give our readership? What advice can you offer to people who fit outside of society’s understanding of traditionally masculine and feminine styles?
Aeryn: My world is such a bubble, so everyone I know is understanding of breaking that barrier and nobody looks at you funny. So my advice to people stuck in a traditional gendered lifestyle would be to find your bubble, meaning a place where it is okay for you to be yourself, and experiment.
Lana: Love that you’re different. Embrace it. And don’t be afraid to be bold and stand up to anyone that questions you.
dapperQ: Tell us something unique about yourself!
Aeryn: We answered this for each other. Lana has a great ability to understand many different people, and that may seem normal, unless you know how she was brought up. She can live in the gray areas while everyone else stays in black and white.
Lana: At such a young age, Aeryn has a strong sense of self. And her creativity can be really inspiring to watch.
dapperQ: How did you hear about dapperQ? Why were you interested in a feature?
Aeryn: I’m always looking for interesting queer fashion blogs and I came upon dapperQ via the Qwear blog. We were interested in a feature because we’re ready to collaborate with queer stylists and bloggers. We’re ready to put ourselves out there.
Lana: Aeryn said it would be cool! I’m very new to the fashion blogging world.
dapperQ: How can our readers stay connected with you?
Photography credit: Aeryn Michelle