There’s a huge dress coming to Toronto – and it’s really queer. The Amsterdam Rainbow Dress is made from the flags of countries where being gay is a crime. It’s illegal to be gay in 71 countries, so it’s a really big dress. The idea is that as these countries legalize being queer, their flags are replaced with rainblow flags.
Launched in 2016, the project is part of Amsterdam’s Museum’s permanent collection. The dress tours the world and has been all over the place, including South Africa, Korea, United States, and Greece. Now, it’s making its way north to Canada.
Earlier this week, the dress was in Ottawa where it was photographed at the Canadian Museum of History and the National Gallery of Canada – two iconic spaces. Just as iconically, the dress was modelled by Icesis Couture, a contestant on season 2 of Canada’s Drag race, and Alicia Kazobinka, a Montreal-based trans activist from Burundi. The photos are out already and all we can say is: talk about slaying!
Now the dress is coming to Toronto. On Friday, it’s going to be photographed all the way up in the CN tower with Myles Sexton, one of Toronto’s most recognizable non-binarty models. The day after, Harbourfront Centre is hosting a shoot with Kai Cheng Thom, a famous trans author.
Both Harbourfront Centre and the CN Tower are Toronto staples, so it’s really cool that they’ll be able to represent Canada in the global fight for human rights. How could you not fall in love with putting a beautiful and thought-provoking dress in Toronto’s most notable attractions?
Arnout van Krimpen, one of the artists behind the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress, says, “The dress is a conversation-starter that gets people’s attention because it’s very colourful and pretty – and then people want to hear the story behind it, which is not so pretty. It’s a story which some people might not otherwise listen to. Ultimately, we use this ‘artivism’ to lower the threshold for attention.”
Consider our attention grabbed. While it’s true that downtown Toronto is an epicentre for LGBTQ+ rights, we love seeing reminders of the fact that, all around the world, people are struggling just to live their authentic selves.
Each shoot is being photographed by Adam Zivo, the controversial gay photographer known for his provocative articles in the National Post. Zivo previously founded and directed LoveisLoveisLove, another queer photo project.
We all like to dress to impress – and sometimes the best way to impress is to have something to say, and, boy does this dress say something.