You know Divine. Even if you aren't a fan of drag — or history — and don't know the performer by name, you have certainly come into contact with her legacy. The aesthetics of The Little Mermaid's Ursula take after Divine's own mug and the tradition of casting a man in drag to play Edna Turnblad in Hairspray follows Divine in the role for the 1988 film. And that's just the massively successful projects, not counting the cult classics like all of the performer's work with John Waters: Pink Flamingos, Roman Candles, Eat Your Makeup, and more. Now, the high fashion brand Loewe is honoring the performer, once called the "Drag Queen of the Century" by People magazine, during Pride month.
"He preempted the glorification of trash, the mix of high and low, the fantastic erasure of gender barriers," brand creative director JW Anderson said in a statement of Harris Glenn Milstead, the actor who created and performed as Divine. "I thought it was time to celebrate him, the Loewe way: with a limited-edition collection inspired by his looks and a museum exhibition honoring his artistry."
Originally, the project included an exhibit as a part of PhotoEspana Madrid at the label's Gran Via Store in Madrid as well as a collection of maxi ti-shirts, miniskirts, dresses, and an apron. There was even a pare of patent platform pumps. But the ongoing global pandemic put a stop to many of those plans, narrowing it down to a three-piece collection of shirts and a cushion tote bag as well as a virtual version of the exhibit.
"I was so excited to honor Divine in the expansive way he deserved — and maybe there will be a better time for this in the future," Anderson continued. The shirts play around with the title "filthiest person alive," another superlative that had been ascribed to the transgressive star.
In the meanwhile, the current capsule, which launches globally on June 25, will benefit Visual AIDS, with 15 percent of proceeds going to the organization. This comes in addition to a donation to Baltimore Pride, a Black-led organization. Baltimore was Mistead's home town.
The exhibition will also launch on June 25 and run until the end of September on the Loewe website.
"This project has been an exciting creative challenge," Anderson said. "I think it is a timely initiative in that it is a celebration of creative freedom and challenging the world order. That's what Divine was all about: creating his own incredible world, no matter what. Now more than ever, that's what we all should do."
See a glimpse of the original collection below.