Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Great Balls of Fashion!

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Great Balls of Fashion!

Article excerpt

Tom of Finland Clothing meets Absolut marketing. Oh, boy ...

When Tom of Finland clothing designers Gary Robinson and David Johnson were commissioned by Absolut Vodka to create brand-inspired fashions, they were a bit nervous. They worried about offending the corporate types with designs too much like the hypermasculine, overtly sexual art of the late Tom of Finland--the cult illustrator who peopled an entirely male homoerotic world with hot, massively muscled heroes in leather, Levi's, and uniforms. "We were sort of keeping it toned down a bit," Johnson says of their first meetings with Absolut's suits. "But they were going for the wild stuff."

The Absolut Tom collection now includes a motorcycle jacket, denim jeans, patchwork leather jeans, two bar vests, a bathing suit, tank top, and sterling silver belt buckle. These one-of-a-kind creations are not for sale: Instead they're being shown at Absolut-sponsored fashion shows in gay bars throughout the country, with proceeds at the door earmarked for local charities.

With these events Tom of Finland now joins an elite club of designers--including Tom Ford of Gucci, the late Gianni Versace, Helmut Lang, Todd Oldham, Richard Tyler, and Randolph Duke, among others--who have been commissioned by Absolut. The creations are owned and housed by the Sweden-based liquor company in New York.

Robinson and Johnson first approached Absolut about sponsoring the four-year-old clothing company's regular fashion shows last fall. They were surprised when executives took the concept even further, commissioning the new designs and developing the traveling fashion show. …

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