LGBTQ+ Legends: Moguls Who Transformed The Fashion Industry

Let’s celebrate Pride Month by honoring these incredible queer icons who trailblaze inclusivity.

The fashion and beauty industry owes a great deal to the LGBTQ+ community, whose contributions have shaped the landscape and helped drive the ongoing fight for equality. 

While the battle for LGBTQ+ rights continues, with 66 countries still criminalizing homosexuality, it’s essential to acknowledge the fashion designers and beauty icons who have not only made their mark in the industry but have also championed LGBTQ+ causes. 

READ ALSO: Celebrate And Honor: Five Luxury Brands Giving Back To The LGBTQ+ Community

As we celebrate Pride Month in June, let’s honor these queer icons who have paved the way and continue to inspire us with their commitment to inclusivity.

Michael Kors

The fashion and beauty industry is a vibrant tapestry that celebrates the world’s diversity, thanks to the efforts of remarkable individuals. One such figure is Michael Kors, an award-winning fashion designer, and a proud gay man. 

Throughout his career, Kors has been dedicated to giving back. He has partnered with God’s Love We Deliver, a non-profit organization providing nutritious meals to individuals living with HIV/AIDS, for over three decades. 

Kors has also been a long-standing supporter of the American Foundation for AIDS Research and actively participated in the It Gets Better Project in 2010. By doing so, he has continually demonstrated his unwavering support for the ongoing fight for equality and the empowerment of LGBTQ+ youth.

Kors with partner Lance Le Pere
Kors with partner Lance Le Pere/Photo via Instagram @michaelkors

Jean Paul Gaultier

Another LGBTQ+ icon who has made a lasting impact is Jean Paul Gaultier. As a proud member of the community, Gaultier has used his platform to break down barriers.

In the 1980s, he challenged gender norms by featuring transgender models such as Teri Toye and Roberta Close on his runways. 

Gaultier’s fragrances campaigns and runway shows celebrate the diversity of life, frequently showcasing same-sex couples and promoting the message that love knows no bounds. 

In 2019, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising and Pride Month, Gaultier created the #MKGO Rainbow Collection, donating 100% of its profits to God’s Love We Deliver.

Gaultier’s fragrance celebrating freedom
Gaultier’s fragrance celebrating freedom/Photo via Jean Paul Gaultier’s official website


Thierry Mugler, an influential figure since 1974, has also been a trailblazer for LGBTQ+ rights. As a proud gay man, Mugler’s unique fashion designs and seductive fragrances have always pushed boundaries. 

Mugler’s spring/summer catwalk collection in 1992 even featured a showstopping performance by Lypsinka, a legendary drag queen who brought high camp, humor, and drag glamour to the runway. 

Mugler has celebrated queer talent through his bold creativity and helped elevate it to center stage.

Thierry Mugler with Jean Paul Gaultier
Thierry Mugler with Jean Paul Gaultier/Photo via Instagram @manfredthierrymugler 

Gianni Versace

Gianni Versace, known for his vibrant designs and pop culture influence, made history by openly embracing his sexuality as one of Italy’s first public figures to come out as gay. 

His collaboration with the Elton John AIDS Foundation showcased his dedication to raising awareness and ending the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. His courage and activism have left an indelible mark on the industry.

Versace/Photo via Instagram @versacesworld


No conversation about LGBTQ+ icons in the beauty industry would be complete without mentioning RuPaul, the epitome of a queen, cover girl, and supermodel. 

RuPaul’s groundbreaking collaboration with MAC in 1994 as the face of their Viva Glam campaign marked a milestone for drag queens in the cosmetics industry. This campaign not only raised funds for HIV/AIDS awareness but also shattered stereotypes. 

RuPaul’s most significant contribution comes in the form of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” This groundbreaking show has given drag artists a platform to express their true selves through the art and beauty of drag, inspiring countless individuals along the way. 

With over 100 gay and bisexual men, non-binary artists, and trans women competing on the show, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has proven that beauty has no specific look, style, or gender. 

Photo via Instagram @rupaulsdragrace

Banner photo via Instagram @manfredthierrymugler. 

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