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  • Writer's pictureKaitlin Owens

Laverne Cox is the Queen of the Archives

The Rocky Horror Picture Show star owns over 500 pieces of vintage Mugler alone.

 


Laverne Cox doesn’t just have a wardrobe — she has an archive, dahliiing. With notable highlights of her closet including THE wing-tipped Mugler Bustier (yes, that wing-tipped bustier from the famous Iceberg shoot in Greenland!) and an Alexander McQueen matador coat, few fashion lovers have amassed a collection of designer relics as large as Miss Cox.


In 2023, Cox shared a tour of her staggering 500-piece Mugler collection on her YouTube channel. The collection focuses heavily on Thierry Mugler’s early work — specifically his ’80s wasp-waist blazers. The Orange is the New Black actress owns one in just about every color. Although her focus isn’t limited to only the early days of Mugler, Cox is a major supporter of Casey Cadwallader and has been photographed in the Creative Director’s looks many times. 


Cox had only begun collecting Mugler garments three years prior to the video – but has been obsessed with the designer for over 30 years. It is surprising how quickly she’s been able to hunt down each piece, but no more surprising than the fact that her archive has grown so large that she has begun renting out the apartment across the hall from her in New York to store it. Imagine that… an entire NYC apartment as a closet... Carrie Bradshaw, who?



Laverne Cox isn’t the first fashion obsessive with extreme brand loyalty. Vogue’s DEVOTED series on YouTube profiles collectors who have become singularly focused on acquiring the works of a specific designer. On the show, they have featured Fiona Luo and Michael Smith, a couple who have dedicated themselves to collecting the works of Rick Owens; Joey Arias,who has been collecting Jeremy Scott for over a decade; and Michelle Elie, who owns over 70 pieces of Comme des Garçons. 


In his Vogue profile, Arias tearfully explains: “When I came upon Jeremy Scott’s work… it awoke something in me. I think that little kid inside of me really fell in love with what was in front of him and saw himself playing with these life-size Barbies on the runway.”


It’s a specific kind of person who becomes a collector — especially a collector of über-expensive, high-end goods like couture. You buy the clothes because you feel intrinsically connected to the designer. You believe in what they stand for, you feel drawn in by their expression — their fantasy. It’s an extension of the same kind of parasocial relationship we talk about when discussing stan culture. There has to be some degree of projection — of constructing a facsimile of the designer to relate yourself to, to aspire to, in order to spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours acquiring their works.


In an article for GQ — “Why The Ultimate Luxury in Fashion is Human Connection” — Noah Johnson writes that “I’ve always thought that the ultimate aspiration […] is to wear only clothes made by people you know. [...] Then there would always be a reason to get dressed, some kind of higher purpose to the act of putting on clothes—less a declaration of brand affinity than a signal of support, or a pledge of allegiance. Like going to a restaurant where you know the chef, or being backstage at a concert, you would somehow become complicit in the clothes that you wear.”


We all just want to feel connected to the things that we love and to be seen by others for who we really are. If you’re a lover of art and fashion, this feeling is amplified beyond the level of an everyday person. There’s a strong desire to mold your physical form as close as possible to the vision of yourself in your heart. In an interview with British Vogue, Cox explains that her fascination with Mugler (and specifically his tailored pieces) comes from “...being a trans woman and not being very shapely.” She says, “...the construction, the architecture of it all, is really what excites me.”


At the end of the day, sometimes the Tumblr-famous quotes just hit the nail right on the head: 


“Art and love are the same thing. It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you.” – Chuck Klosterman

Couldn’t have said it better myself. 🌀


 

Kaitlin Owens is a vintage fashion writer, movie buff, lover of good eats, and a women’s size 7.5 (if any shoe brands are reading). She is the Editor-in-Chief of Dilettante Magazine. You can find her on socials @magdilettante.

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