When it comes to the world of drag, Divine is a true trailblazer. Often dubbed the “filthiest person alive,” Harris Glenn Milstead became a fixture in the underground Baltimore scene before morphing into a 1970s pop-cultural icon through starring in cult cinema classics such as John Waters’ Pink Flamingos and Hairspray, as well as Lust In The Dust by Paul Bartel. “He preempted the glorification of trash, the mix of high and low, the fantastic erasure of gender barriers,” explains Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Loewe. “I thought it was time to celebrate him, the Loewe way.”
The luxury Spanish brand has not only produced a collection inspired by the drag icon, but has staged a virtual exhibition honouring his tremendous career. Loewe scrapped plans of holding the exhibition at the brand’s Madrid flagship store in place of a URL showcase. “Current events have impacted the scale of our efforts. Due to the ongoing global pandemic, production was halted in order to keep our artisans and workers safe,” says Anderson. “And right now, LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations all over are recalibrating, as organizers and activists work to rightfully reclaim these avenues as a form of protest, joining the movement for Black Lives. We support their efforts.”
The digital space is packed with Divine memorabilia shot by legendary photographer Greg Gorman. Everything from archive film posters and personal picture albums make an appearance, as do signed record sleeves and magazine scans. A fishtail gown made for Tom Eyen’s The Neon Woman which Divine customised himself is a standout, as are a selection of photographs from his high school graduation in 1963.
The accompanying collection sees oversized t-shirts stamped with both pictures of the star and headlines about his provocative nature. There’s also a canvas tote that is emblazoned in a 1978 poster of The Neon Woman. Fifteen per cent of proceeds from the collection will go directly to Visual AIDS, as well as an additional donation to black-led LGBTQIA+ organisation Baltimore Pride, in honour of Divine’s hometown and the setting of Hairspray. Long live the queen of filth!
Loewe’s limited edition Divine collection is available online and at Loewe’s Greene street store in New York. The online exhibition will run from until the end of September.