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Billy Porter wears his tuxedo gown to the Academy Awards

Billy Porter Talks Powerful Fashion And That Iconic Oscars Tuxedo Gown

Gettyimages | Frazer Harrison
By Carolyn B.

Pose star Billy Porter put himself on the map as a fashion icon at the 2019 Academy Awards. Viewers have been lamenting how boring the traditional male formal wear has become, hoping for a brave soul to come forward and finally shake-up the three-piece suit look.

Porter did not disappoint when he hit the red carpet last year, making his walk in a full-length Christian Siriano black velvet number that resembled a traditional fitted tuxedo top with a ballgown skirt attached.

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Confusion, Hatred, And Instant Fans

Billy Porter standing next to a black and white painting
Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Billy_Porter_d%C3%A9dicace_la_peinture_de_Guillaume_Jean_Lefebvre.jpg

The look was immediately controversial, some absolutely adored Porter and his dress for the bravery of bucking long-held gender norms. Others criticized the 50-year-old actor, believing the Academy Awards were not a place for social justice and that the dress was a threat to masculinity. And some were simply ... confused, unsure of how they felt about such an unorthodox ensemble.

Perhaps the best example of the public's reaction is the now infamous GIF of Glenn Close seeing Porter's dress for the first time as she seems to run through all of the above emotions before landing on apparent appreciation.

An Epiphany

Billy Porter at the New York Pride Parade
Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:New_York_Pride_50_-_2019-1105_(48166785226).jpg

Porter openly appreciated the love and support for his bold fashion choices, but it was the outcry that actually helped him to realize how much his clothing was actually worth.

The Like A Boss actor said the simple fact that so many men felt threatened by him wearing a dress was evidence that their masculinity deserved to be "attacked" and that he was more powerful than he had ever realized before. Porter said that the incident had convinced him of his purpose, stating his fashion choices were fully "intentional."

Making His Mark

Billy Porter at the Golden Globes
Gettyimages | Frazer Harrison

Since then, Porter has continued to shake up the status quo with his appearances at high profile Hollywood events. He added an oversized satin wrap bow to a shiny brown suit at the 2019 Critic's Choice awards. He entered the 2019 Met Gala carried by a harem of men while wearing a shimmering gold bodysuit with an elaborate headset and cape.

His 2020 Golden Globes look was another spin on the masculine and feminine Hollywood glamor, combining a white tuxedo suit with a long, feathery train.

Flipping Gender Roles

Billy Porter
Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Billy_Porter_at_Belvedere_Inn.jpg

Porter's bold flipping of gender roles has extended beyond his personal appearances and into his onscreen roles, as well. The American Horror Story and Pose actor has frequently played characters that show the struggles of those in the LGBTQ community, with his Pose character Pray Tell being lauded by critics and fans alike.

Fans of the actor are excited for his next big project, a retelling of the classic fairytale Cinderella, in which Porter will break with tradition yet again as the Fairy Godmother.

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