A Fashion Love Story: Portraits of Queers and the Clothes We Love

Valentine’s Day may come and go but our friend photographer/editor Katya Moorman has been working on her own version of a love story…A Fashion Love Story.

As someone who has worked in the fashion industry, I’ve thought a lot about the problems of fast fashion.  When we purchase a garment made by someone who is being exploited, we are furthering this exploitation. A fundamental shift needs to be made in our relationship with clothes as a culture.

Fashion Love Story Project aims to remind people of the value of what is in their closet, that clothes aren’t only clothes but are memories, markers of time and rites of passage.

I have been taking portraits of people in an item of clothing that has meaning to them as part of this ongoing project and they share with me their stories. I am honored to share some of them with dapperQ.

SMOKEY BLACK @smokey.black

My first suit.

I had never seen myself in a suit until 2012. My crush invited me to a black-tie event and as I stood in front of the mirror in the fitting room, I felt a wholeness I hadn’t felt before. I looked handsome. I looked how I always felt but had never seen. This was the suit that would help me sweep her off her feet. In that mirror stood the dapper young stud i had always dreamed of becoming. Since then, I’ve obtained four more suits and the confidence they give me is unparalleled. For me, it’s armor.


DYLAN MERKLE  @merkledylan

Saturday morning, and my last high school homecoming was only hours away. I had been nominated homecoming King, sadly I did not win, yet it still came as a surprise. Only a week prior I was telling myself there was no way in hell I was going to that dance. In past years I had always ended up alone in a corner somewhere, my head pounding with thoughts on repeat, “Why are you even here? You aren’t like these people…” This year I felt obligated to attend the dance after being nominated. I spent the majority of the morning reassuring myself that the evening would go smoothly. It was just about time to leave for the dance – I was applying so much glitter to my eyelids that I could be seen from space. I slipped into my dress, the sequins reflected a mesmerizing pattern across my room. I walked down stairs to greet my ecstatic mother. She demanded pictures; she needed to keep up her Facebook feed, I suppose. Reluctantly, I obliged and struck a pose. In every photo my legs went on for miles. The photos allowed myself to see a new perspective of myself and ushered in the confidence I so desperately needed. I so clearly remember the intense anxiety I felt walking into the high school. I pushed through the feeling as my friends complimented my little black dress. Eventually, the self-doubt came flooding back. I rushed to the bathroom to calm my nerves. As I sat in the last stall trying to contain tears, just like the years before, I heard my name called on the intercom. It was time for the home coming court to walk. I was terrified; “What if they all laugh? What if I get spit on again? I can’t do this!”, I whisper to myself. But I had no other option but to leave that stall. It was my time to walk through a thousand of my peers. I put on a confident face, at least a seemingly normal face, and began to walk. Everyone started screaming, cheering, and clapping. I was shocked… In that moment I felt as if I belonged, as if I was accepted just like any other student would’ve been treated. I felt as if I was dreaming, all my anxiety and fear melted away. Now when I think of a little black dress, I think of the little black dress.


NINA KOSSOFF  @ninakossoff

This is one of the first items of clothing I bought intentionally for the balance of masculine/feminine that I see in it. It’s a velvet burnout material so it’s semi sheer which I think is just really fucking cool and sexy.

Recently a friend of mine had a bachelorette party in the fall, and it was predominantly cisgender women. One of the things she wanted to do was have everyone dress sexy and take some Polaroids. Uh, ok. I was super nervous because I have a very non-binary body that I’m just really coming into, and also traditional women’s-sexy-lingerie-type things just are not for me.

Going in I knew I wanted to wear this shirt. It makes me feel hot. It makes me feel cool. And it’s just its own unique piece that I haven’t seen anything else like before.

Come the night of bachelorette-party-sexy-photos, there was for sure a temporary nervous air about what to expect. But then everyone started changing into all sorts of outfits that made them feel hot: other half done button ups, pasties, weird hats, fur vests, mesh shirts, sexy bras, sequined kimonos, thongs — literally everything. And it just became a night that a bunch of people (most of whom had never met), just ran around yelling about how hot everyone was (I’m a Leo, this was a high point for me).

It was a really special night. It had the playfulness of a childhood sleepover with the adult awareness that we had all been so ashamed of our bodies for some reason or another, and that celebrating one another for being exactly who they were, exactly how they were presenting, was something we all wanted.

Not to mention that part of the reason I love this item so much is that it’s from my girlfriend’s recently launched brand. And I’m just so endlessly proud of her and her business partners and honestly I love being able to wear something that lets me say, “Thank you, it’s my girlfriend’s clothing line!!!”

And now I get to tie all of these kinds of energy into this one (hot) article of clothing and that’s super fucking cool.


EMMETT JACK @emmettisjack

I was wearing this shirt the last time my grandmother and I spoke before she passed away. She saw the text on the front, Deus Ex Machina, and we chatted about the meaning. She loved sharing her knowledge and asking about things she was less versed in. She liked to be in the know and it’s one of the things I will always love about her. I got it from a thrift store in Seattle last year because I liked the design and as a writer am intrigued by the concept.

If you are interested in taking part or learning more about this project you can contact Katya at [email protected]


About the Author/Photographer: KATYA MOORMAN is a photographer, writer and the editor of soon to be launched No Kill Magazine – an irreverent take on sustainable fashion. Follow @nokillmag and @katyanyc on Instagram.

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