New online exhibition puts unseen Divine memorabilia on display

Memorabilia and photographs of drag icon Divine go on display today as part of an exhibition that has moved online in response to COVID-19.

Image: Greg Gorman

There are few drag queens who have as big an influence on drag culture than Divine.

Divine was an actor, performer and drag queen. She worked as a woman’s hairdresser in her early life and performed in several films most notably John Waters’ Pink Flamingos and Hairspray. People Magazine have described Divine as “Drag Queen of the century”.

Today, June 25, a limited-edition capsule collection and museum exhibition from Spanish house Loewe celebrates the life and legacy of “the most beautiful woman in the world, almost.”

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LOEWE x Divine 'Labeled as the filthiest person alive and seen in such movies as Pink Flamingos, Hairspray and Lust in The Dust and in theater plays such as The Neon Woman, has had a huge impact on popular culture. He preempted the glorification of trash, the mix of high and low, the fantastic erasure of gender barriers. I thought it was time to celebrate him, the LOEWE way: with a capsule collection inspired by his looks and a museum exhibition honoring his artistry. Of course, current events have impacted the scale of our efforts. Due to the ongoing global pandemic, production was halted in order to keep our artisans and workers safe. And right now, LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations all over are recalibrating, as organizers and activists work to rightfully reclaim these avenues as a form of protest, joining the movement for Black Lives. We support their efforts. To better meet this moment, we have staged an online exhibition of Divine memorabilia and pictures, which was initially planned as part of our exhibition for PhotoEspaña Madrid at our Gran Vía store in Madrid.' – @Jonathan.Anderson Fifteen percent of the proceeds will be donated to Visual AIDS, an organization which utilizes art to fight HIV/AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting artists living with HIV, and preserving a legacy. We know from our ongoing partnership with Visual AIDS that the HIV/AIDS crisis is not over. We join them in their ongoing fight against the virus and their efforts to preserve our history. Additionally, we are pleased to make a donation to Baltimore Pride, which is important to us for two reasons. Firstly, it is the hometown of Divine and the setting for the film Hairspray. But additionally and more importantly, Baltimore Pride is a Black-led LGBTQ+ organization and celebration. We are honored to support their work. See the collection on #LOEWE #LOEWEdivine

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In the midst of a unique and unusual Pride month, the exhibition will take place online with Loewe only making a streamlined selection of pieces from the collection to buy for now.

15% of proceeds of the collection will go to Visual Aids, an art-led organisation which fights HIV/Aids by provoking dialogue, supporting artists living with HIV, and preserving history and legacy. The collection will also support Baltimore Pride.

This project has been an exciting creative challenge,” says Loewe’s creative director Jonathan Anderson. “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.”

The virtual exhibition features a vast array of memorabilia and photographs shot by photographer Greg Gorman and is bursting with “colour, trash, fantasy, outrage, glamour, and freedom”.

Divine has remained a cult figure, particularly within the LGBT+ community, and has provided the inspiration for fictional characters, artworks, and songs. Various books and documentary films devoted to his life have also been produced, including Divine Trash and I Am Divine.

“He pre-empted the glorification of trash, the mix of high and low, the fantastic erasure of gender barriers,” says Loewe’s creative director Jonathan Anderson. “I thought it was time to celebrate him, the Loewe way.”

Loewe’s Divine Limited Collection and digital exhibition launch on June 25, 2020.

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