Marco Marco: Going Against the Heteronormative Grain

Marco Marco has been a buzz word in the fashion industry since his beginning in 2000. Having styled movie stars and pop artists, the brand Marco Marco enjoys making a big statement and utilizing pop icons to display extravagant pieces of fashion that has redefined modern fashion. The start of its fame began in 2013 when a video of the Collection 2 Runway was posted on Youtube. The fashion show launched a social media craze when the show began and the models were not slender female models and hyper masculine male models, but actually drag queens and transgender women modeling the dresses and gay men, thicker models, “vogue-ers”, and transgender men modeling the underwear and hoodies.

Marco Marco is renowned for his use of geometric shape, neon color, and form fitting clothing. His clothes, unlike the haute couture brands of modern fashion, are made specifically for the personalities wearing them; meaning each garment fits perfectly with the style and body shape of the model wearing it.  Yes, all fashion runway clothes are made to fit their models, but Marco Marco makes it apparent that with his clothing he is trying to emulate the personality of the model. For example during an interview with The Huffington Post Marco himself said the following about what started his whole perspective in fashion and the use of non-traditional models, “There is a (drag) queen named Vicky Vox… All I wanted was for her to open the first show, and when she said yes, that was the first seed… It’s also nice to give credence to a social group that doesn’t get the appropriate type of attention they (drag queens) deserve. I wanted a legitimate opportunity for my friends to show the world what being a ‘bad ass bitch’ is really about.” Through his experience of watching Vicky perform he became inspired by what she does daily: perform. The bright lights and atmosphere of where he saw her perform became an inspiration for him and he knew he had to make a clothing line inspired by it starring her as the entrance look. Marco Marco succeeded in combining his style with the character of an LGBTQ+ icon from the beginning of his show when he styled Vicky in a beautiful robe and bathing suit that she would wear off the runway as her character.

The use of LGBTQ+ models in Marco Marco’s runways makes a giant statement on heteronormativity. Utilizing models who aren’t all the same shape and size pushes the boundaries of what his fashion can do. He is making a statement on what fashion and gender is when he styles drag queens and transgender women in extravagantly colorful gowns and masculine and feminine gay men in underwear with full faces of makeup. For the aforementioned reasons, Marco Marco’s playfulness with the gender binary and the normativity of feminine women and masculine men in the fashion world has revolutionized the fashion world and redefined what is “normal” in fashion today.

 

KAZAKY

Kazaky is a synthetic-pop, dance heavy, Ukrainian-based boyband that came together in Kiev, Ukraine back in 2010. Current band members consist of Kirill Fedorenko, Artur Gaspar, Artemy Lazarev, and Oleg Zhezhel. Famous for their 5.5-inch custom stilettos, the band first gained momentum towards the end of 2010 with the release of their first single, “In the Middle.” The song transfixed audiences across the world as members started out in more masculine clothing and then transitioned to a more androgynous appearance with their infamous heels. Their second single, “Love,” further expanded their popularity, with the music video reaching nearly 5 million views. The band has now produced two studio albums (The Hills Chronicles and I Like It (Part 1 + 2)) and numerous music videos. Unsurprisingly, the band members even appeared in one of Madonna’s music videos, “Girl Gone Wild” – Madonna obviously has a pattern of including backup performers that can dance significantly better than her. In addition to their studio albums and music videos, Kazaky has been featured in numerous high profile publications due to their bold and intrepid taste in fashion.

With backgrounds as trained dancers, group members are famous for their intricate and synchronized dance moves that draw upon many different styles and cultures. Kazaky’s choreography consists primarily of acrobatic dance, voguing, and waacking. Members of the band contrast gender with their high stilettos, hyper masculine physique, dark sensual androgynous fashion, and runway style dance choreography. More interestingly, band members intentionally keep their sexual identities hidden, only pointing out that some members are gay while others are not. In a response comment on one of their Youtube videos, member Oleg Zhezhel states, “the reason we never answer this question is because we try to keep a kind of mysterious charm.” Member Kirill Fedorenko adds, “We are unbiased in terms of being pro-straight or pro-gay. There is no gender-related implication. It’s all about the dance and the movement.” In addition to adding a level of curiosity, the band’s decision to withhold their sexual identities can be seen as a form of protective secrecy against their anti-queer, fascist political state.

On March 4, 2013 the band released a new track and video, “Crazy Law”.

Although not confirmed, it’s been speculated that the song and video are responding to the anti-gay propaganda legislation coming out of Russia. While synchronously dancing in intense leather and kink-spired clothing, band members promote ideals of self-love, desire, peace, and gender-nonconformity.

“Why am I feeling? This is a crazy law
You can have many looks, even how you’re born
Why am I feeling, this is a crazy law
I’m not trying to show you something wrong”

In the opening lines, band members question the validity of Russia’s homophobic legislation. Emphasizing a dynamic, non-singular attitude towards outward appearance, more arguably gender, the band rejects typical static, singular, and dichotomous stereotypes of gender. The band members argue that their performance and appearance is not unnatural, but instead a valid and real identity. Towards the end of the song members sing:

“Keep your dreams, keep your plans
All of this things you have is nice

The crazy best it’s now with us
Your body disappears don’t come up
Look around a lot of noise
Never gonna lose your voice”

Band members again reiterate a sense of anarchic validation towards individuality and separatism. They encourage listeners to maintain eccentricity and self-advocacy despite living within a controlling and repressive environment. Though Audre Lorde argues for a new modern understanding of the erotic from an empowering female perspective, one could connect ideas from her writing to members of Kazaky. Kazaky’s performances can be seen as a source of erotic power, and a sharing of that power with their viewers. With their androgynous, gender-bending looks and outward projection of multi-faceted sexual identities, members refuse submittal to traditional gender and sexual expectations. Instead, members foster power from within themselves and from within their differences and similarities. They search for new understandings of the erotic and attempt to bring that power to those stripped of it by oppressive political structures.