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Billy Porter’s stylist reveals how the Pose star breaks the fashion binary

Vic Parsons August 19, 2019

Billy Porter at the 2019 Met Gala in New York City. (Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)

The US actor Billy Porter has been breaking the gender binary through his fashion looks – and now, his stylist Sam Ratelle has revealed how.

Porter, 49, first caught the fashion world’s attention when he wore a tuxedo dress to the 2019 Academy Awards.

And the Emmy-nominated actor broke the internet when he arrived at the 2019 Met Gala, dressed in gold and carried by six topless men.

Billy Porter arriving at the 2019 Met Gala. (Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)

“We want to keep challenging the notion of what it means to dress like a man or a woman,” Sam Ratelle told the Hollywood Reporter.

Talking about Porter’s Met Gala look, Ratelle said, that Porter was carried to the red carpet because after all, “all the gods and specifically the kings and queens didn’t ever walk.”

Billy Porter attends the 91st Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood. (Dan MacMedan/Getty Images)

His Oscars outfit, the gender-bending tuxedo gown designed by Christian Siriano, was black velvet.

“I wanted to take my power back from when I was silent in the ’90s about my sexuality,” Porter said. Siriano added: “What is menswear? What is women’s? People should be able to wear whatever they want.”


But Ratelle says that it was his outfit for New York Fashion Week Men’s shows in February, when Porter first wore clip-on earrings, that inducted the actor into the fashion community.

“I feel it [clip-on earrings] was probably one of the last feminine aspects that we touched on,” Ratelle said. “Before [NYFW], I would say nobody was loaning him clothes.”

For the Pose season two premiere in New York in June, Porter wore an outfit he described as “Matador realness”, designed by Filipino designer Francis Libiran.

Billy Porter attends the FX Network’s “Pose” Season 2 Premiere in New York City. (Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

“It’s still masculine and feminine, but I wanted to depict his strength and how far he’s come. At the same time, I wanted to make sure it was art,” Ratelle said.

“Women have been wearing pants for decades, but you put a dude in a skirt and it’s like the world falls apart.”

Billy Porter says wearing a dress is a political act

Speaking exclusively to PinkNews in July 2019, Porter revealed why he feels fashion is a “political act.”

From wearing a tuxedo gown to the Oscars to being dressed from head to toe in gold at the Met Gala, Porter has shown he’s not afraid to break boundaries when it comes to fashion.

“If I’m over here wearing a dress, why does it matter?” he told PinkNews.

More: Billy Porter, pose

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