Unsuitable: A History of Lesbian Fashion w/ Eleanor Medhurst and Roxy Bourdillon

5 Jun 2024 – 19:00 - 20:30 BST
British Library
Piazza Pavilion
British Library
96 Euston Road
The way we dress can show or hide who we are; make us fit in, make us stand out, or make our own community. Yet ‘lesbian fashion’ has been strangely overlooked. What secrets can it reveal about the lives and status of queer women through the ages? Historian Eleanor Medhurst, in her new book, Unsuitable: A History of Lesbian Fashiontakes a fascinating journey through the culture, society and politics of lesbian clothing – from Sappho and the Suffragettes to t-shirts and TikTok.  She will be in conversation with editor of DIVA magazine and writer Roxy Bourdillon.

Join her for an evening of discovery into the dazzlingly varied clothes worn by women who love women.  It as story that spans centuries and countries, from ‘Gentleman Jack’ in nineteenth-century Yorkshire and Queen Christina of seventeenth-century Sweden, to Paris modernism, genderqueer Berlin, butch/femme bar culture and gay rights activists—via drag kings, Vogue editors and the Harlem Renaissance.

You don’t have to be queer or fashionable to be enthralled by this hidden history.

Eleanor Medhurst is a historian of lesbian fashion and author of the blog Dressing Dykes. She has worked on Brighton Museum’s exhibitions Queer Looks and Queer the Pier, and been interviewed by GraziaCosmopolitan, Cameron Esposito’s Queery and Gillian Anderson’s What Do I Know? podcasts. Eleanor has presented her work at a number of global institutions, including Amnesty International, the Tate, the Lesbian Lives Conference and the University of Geneva, and was a consultant for Alexander McQueen.

Roxy Bourdillon is an award-winning writer and the editor-in-chief of DIVA, the world’s leading magazine for LGBTQIA women and non-binary people. She has written for numerous publications including CosmopolitanAttitude and The Guardian, and interviewed everyone from A-listers Emma Stone and Keira Knightley to the legendary Rebel Dykes. Roxy’s groundbreaking work has earned her a place in both the Pride Power List and The Attitude 101: LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Changing The World. Her debut book, What A Girl Wants: A (True) Story of Sexuality and Self-Discovery, is out in April 2025.

Doors Open: 18:00
Starts: 19:00

In association with Gay’s the Word


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