Welcome back to Hi Femme!, dapperQ’s sibling visibility project celebrating the incredible contributions that stylish femmes make to the queer fashion landscape. This edition, we’re featuring Laura Duvé, an artist, photographer and plus size model. In her artwork, Duvé explores notions of femininity through a femme gaze, and documents feminine identity on the queer spectrum. Duvé’s work is a reflection of queer femmes in mostly Naarm, Melbourne Australia. However, she has shot while on tour in cities in the US as well. Duvé had her first solo show at the end of 2016, with another show at the end of April 2017 in Naarm, Melbourne.
Her work aims to express the softness, strength and sheer power that comes with being femme in a world that praises masculinity and often forgets the emotional and physical labour of femmes. Moreover, her work discusses body image, culture and identity and ways in which queer femme bodies exist, while showing the self care rituals of femme identifying people. As a plus size model, Duvé collaborates with artists and brands that support positive body image and celebrates all kinds of different bodies.
Duvé is lingerie collector and, because of this, tends to collaborate and work most closely with Melbourne based lingerie brands, as well as some US brands such a Alexandrea Anissa in San Francisco. In her travels, she hopes connect with more brands that have similar beliefs, since the Australian plus size industry is far behind the U.S. Duvé states, “It [Australia] barely recognises fat women let alone femmes proud of their bodies so I’m trying to remain positive and not get burnt out by the lack of conversations happening around positive body image and clothing options in retail stores in Australia for fat femmes.”
Hi Femme!: Can you talk a bit about how you see queer femme style and what makes it transgressive?
Duvé: I suppose what I find interesting about queer femme style is it’s so unique to the person. Each look is solely one’s own. There’s a lot of reclamation of pink and pastels in my own wardrobe as someone who felt denied access to loving it earlier in my life because of internalised misogyny as well as being taught from a young age that certain bright colours werent ‘flattering’ to my fat body. It’s hard to ever pin point one femme look as well, which I love. What makes it transgressive to me is there is strength behind each look. The looks we come up with can be political in the way we just don’t give a fuck and to me that’s inspiring. I remember as a baby dyke coming into the scene, feeling constantly over dressed surrounded by masc people and misunderstood as not queer enough. Thankfully through finding other femmes who are unapologetic in their looks, unapologetic in the colour they wore, as well as their politics was a homecoming of sorts for me. I felt seen for the first time. However I have noticed that femme aesthetic is very on trend at the moment, and I often wonder what that means when the mainstream so often steal queer culture and aesthetic and how we can reclaim and stand strong in our own style when straights are constantly stealing it.
Hi Femme!: How do you think your relationship to femme style evolves from being both in front of and behind the camera?
Duvé: Since I was about 16, I loved taking self portraits. I thought I had a really cute face and would photograph myself from the shoulders up all the time. (I had some work to do with the rest of my body.) It got to a point where I got frustrated that I took all these gorgeous photos of my friends and yet no one was taking them of me. Where was my own documentation? I was shy and 19 when I started dating my first girlfriend who did her best to convince me [that] I was worthy and beautiful, and through her counteracting the statements my mother was telling me, I started to become more interested in fashion, and actually starting to look into plus size blogs. I think my relationship to my style and to femme identity evolved through actually dissecting my own body and the way I look, the way I move on camera. It was a revelation for me to see how other people photographed me and how I photographed myself.
Hi Femme!: How would you describe your personal style? And do you have some favorite moments of discovery?
Duvé: I love a lot of colour most of the time: Lots of pinks, lilacs and strong make up. I also really love a more classical black number. Black over the knee boots, that kinda thing. (If I can find some that fit my calves.) So, I guess I would describe my style as high femme soft goth, romantic glamour.
Hi Femme!: Who are your fashion icon(s)? And how have they affected your style?
Duvé: My style is definitely influenced by my friends, but for icons you can look up, I’ve always loved Beth Ditto as a highly visible fat femme. I remember when I was in my last year of high school seeing her on the front cover of Love fashion magazine, and seeing her belly and bright pink hair just made me stop in my tracks. I didn’t say anything to the skinny friends I was with, but I remembered thinking how cool that was. Others worthy of mentioning: I looooove Lizzo, shes a fucking fat femmeinspiriation. Her video for Scuse Me just made me sob and her music is so unapologetic and real, and I have so much respect for her. I think I am my own fashion icon to be totally honest. For the longest time I didn’t know anyone else who dressed like I do. I still don’t think I really know anyone who dresses like me, at least in Melbourne.
Hi Femme!: What items in your style arsenal can you not live without?
Duvé: A pair of huge fuck-off earrings. Either with aggressive slogans on them or sometimes you just need some big chunky gold earrings to feel good. A mesh bodysuit in every colour to layer your lingerie with.
Hi Femme!: Where can our readers find more of your photography and style?
Images for Subvrt Magazine
Stylist: Clare @rack0ff
MUA: Taylor Elliot @tjelliotmua
Photographer: Lucy Alcorn @lucy_alcorn
About the author: Genevieve D Berrick is a writer about things femme, queer, feminist, with a particular interest in styling and sporting bodies. Danger is in fact her middle name. You can find her work at www.genevievedberrick.com.