Fashion design is a feminized occupation, but there is a widespread perception that gay male designers are advantaged in receiving awards, publicity, and praise. This article develops the notion of a “glass runway” to explain this inequality. First, using design canons and lists of award recipients, I show that men, especially gay men, receive more consecration than women. Second, I show how men and women are consecrated differently by analyzing the content of 157 entries in Voguepedia’s design canon and 96 fashion media articles. Attributions of value and legitimacy construct a gendered image of the ideal fashion designer through discourses of art and culture that reinforce essentialist ideas about gender difference. Because cultural value is ambiguous, processes of valorization are shaped by gender essentialism, pushing male cultural producers down the glass runway and into the spotlight of fame, consecration, and legitimation. Finally, the case of fashion design offers insights into how intersecting inequalities can shape the glass runway. Gay designers experience both valorization and discrimination from intersections of gender and sexuality.
Gender & Society – SAGE
Published: Apr 1, 2015
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