Billy Porter’s mainstream success forcing designers to change attitudes

Billy Porter and his stylist Sam Ratelle are now being “hounded” by designers who have refused to send the Pose star clothes in the past.Before finding a legion of new fans thanks to his role as Pray Tell in Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s hit TV series…

Billy Porter and his stylist Sam Ratelle are now being “hounded” by designers who have refused to send the Pose star clothes in the past.

Before finding a legion of new fans thanks to his role as Pray Tell in Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s hit TV series, about the ball culture in ’80s New York, Billy was known as one of Broadway’s leading stars.

Thanks to Pose, Billy is now a household name, and over the last six months has brought his unique style to the mainstream red carpets at events like the Oscars, Golden Globes and the Met Gala.

“The very people who said, ‘No and no again,’ are literally hounding us,” Sam laughed to The Hollywood Reporter. “If there’s a change of heart, we’ll listen to it. But we don’t want to be anywhere that we’re not welcome. And it’s so funny, because they are interested in supporting when it works for them, but not when it doesn’t. ‘Come to the show and sit front row because you’re fabulous.’ However, when we go back and ask for things, it’s always a ‘no.'”

In February, the multi-talented star served as the official ambassador for New York Fashion Week’s men’s shows, sitting front row at numerous presentations.

He went on to stun at the 2019 Oscars, wearing a black velvet Christian Siriano ball gown, complete with a tuxedo jacket.

However, getting clothes sent in for the 49-year-old is no easy task.

“Others have told me in the best corporate way, ‘He’s a queen; we don’t want to work with him,’ or ‘He doesn’t have enough followers,’ or ‘We don’t like his Instagram aesthetic,’ or ‘He’s just not big enough.’ Which is generally what happens with Broadway talent,” Sam sighed. “Nobody wants to ever give them clothing. And these are often the most talented people in the world. They’re so deserving of looking fantastic. It’s a billion-dollar industry! We have to be able to open these doors.”

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Billy Porter wore curtain from Broadway’s Kinky Boots to 2019 Tony Awards

Billy Porter wore an outfit made from the red velvet curtain from the final performance of Kinky Boots to the 2019 Tony Awards. The 49-year-old, who fronted the Cyndi Lauper musical when it opened on Broadway in 2013, walked the Radio City Music Hall …

Billy Porter wore an outfit made from the red velvet curtain from the final performance of Kinky Boots to the 2019 Tony Awards.

The 49-year-old, who fronted the Cyndi Lauper musical when it opened on Broadway in 2013, walked the Radio City Music Hall red carpet on Sunday in an Elizabethan-inspired red-and-pink tuxedo top, tulle skirt, and matching cigarette pant made from the curtain.

The eye-catching ensemble was a sweet tribute to the musical, which landed Porter his first-ever Tony Award.

According to The New York Times, designers at handbag company Scenery Bags purchased the red velvet curtain after Kinky Boots closed in April last year and contacted the Pose star to see if the wanted it fashioned into a bag.

His stylist Sam Ratelle came up with the idea for the look and went to designer Sergio Guadarrama and creative director Cade Johnson of Celestino Couture to create the gown.

“I want to flip the question of what it means to be a man,” Porter told The New York Times ahead of the Tony Awards. “This question of masculinity, this sort of microscope of heteronormative masculinity that we are very often held up to, especially as leading men, needs to be shattered.

“You know, it’s toxic and I’m over it and I’ve lived it and I’m not doing it anymore.”

The dress also included an embroidered uterus as a nod to “empowering women’s reproductive rights,” and more than 30,000 Swarovski crystals.

“This is exactly what I was looking for – pants but drama,” he added.

The over-the-top star stunned in a custom Christian Siriano tuxedo gown for the Oscars back in February and was carried on a golden palanquin through the Met Gala pink carpet in a bejewelled Egyptian-inspired catsuit last month.

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Billy Porter: ‘Why does me wearing a dress cause so much strife?’

Billy Porter has responded to the social media hate his Oscars dress received, insisting he doesn’t care what people say about his fashion choices.The Pose star turned heads on the Academy Awards red carpet when he rocked up wearing a velvet Christian …

Billy Porter has responded to the social media hate his Oscars dress received, insisting he doesn’t care what people say about his fashion choices.

The Pose star turned heads on the Academy Awards red carpet when he rocked up wearing a velvet Christian Siriano gown which featured a tuxedo on top and full black skirt on the bottom. While many praised the actor for pushing boundaries with his ensemble, others were less complimentary, but Billy told the Associated Press he doesn’t let such criticism get him down.

“The comments are not my business. What people think about what I’m doing is not my business. I lived that already,” he explained. “I’m inside of my authenticity and the whole point is that you have to respect me as much as I respect you. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else. You don’t have to look. It’s not about you. I don’t understand why my putting on a dress causes this much strife in your life.”

And the trolling Billy received for the outfit isn’t going to stop him from wearing other fashion-forward looks on the red carpet.

“People are actually listening,” he smiled. “I hope it opens up a dialogue of healing. I will always continue to do me. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the 49 years that I’ve lived on this planet, is that being authentic is the only version of the story that anybody should be.”

Designer Christian also opened up about creating Billy’s Oscars look during an interview with U.S. TV show Extra, telling the programme that he wanted to make something “different but fun”.

“We just kind of wanted to try something different… He was like, ‘Let’s push it, honey,’ and that’s what we did,” Christian grinned. “It’s a bit random to see a man in a dress on the carpet like that, but I think the whole idea is people should wear what they feel. Fashion shouldn’t be so difficult, it should be fun.”

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