My boyfriend is a girl, my girlfriend is a boy
Images courtesy of COS
Coco Capitán collaborates with London-based fashion brand COS on an LGBT-themed campaign and I don’t know why it makes me feel rather nostalgic.
What comes to mind as I find out about this collaboration was the exact moment I heard “Love Is Love.” It was the summer of ’84 in Baguio, when Baguio still smelled of pine. The sky was blue. The air was nippy. I was biking along the quiet streets of a leafy neighborhood near Quezon Hill and I was listening to the song from a Walkman in my pocket.
I had just discovered “Love Is Love” by British New Wave band Culture Club from the rom-com Electric Dreams, which I had just seen the night before on Betamax with my cousins. Not quite LGBT, as you might think now with a song like that in its OST, the movie was a love triangle among a heterosexual male, a heterosexual female, and a personal computer identifying as male.
Though I hardly remember much of it, not even its protagonists, I give credit to this old, hardly remembered film for harping on the idea that technology could invade the most intimate spaces of our personal lives (as it has increasingly), as well as the phrase “Love Is Love,” now an LGBTQ mantra, although credit goes solely to the androgynous Boy George, Culture Club’s frontperson whose ambiguous sexuality, back in the 1980s when being gay could destroy careers—can’t it anymore now?—caught the imagination of legions around the world.
Still, camouflaged in his New Romantic glam rock persona inspired by the likes of David Bowie, Boy George kept his sexuality vague. When asked, as did Joan Rivers, if he preferred men or women, he would say, “Both.” He would dodge Barbara Walters’ or some other interviewer’s probe into his real sexual orientation with a very non-commital “I would rather have a cup of tea than sex.”
Sometimes, it’s hard to recognize
Loves comes as surprise
—‘Together in Electric Dreams,’ Giorgio Moroder
The connection may not seem very clear, but I’m dreaming Electric Dreams now because of London-based Spanish artist and photographer Coco Capitán, whom I first encountered through her collaboration with Gucci in 2017, in which, with the wholehearted blessing of Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, she was given the free hand to “deface”—but more like to add a compellingly instrospective statement to—the brand’s logo shirts, hooded sweats, and bags with her signature aphorisms, written by hand as is her style, like “Common sense is not that common” or “What are we going to do with all this future?”
Coco Capitán is gay, not that she—or anybody—should feel obliged to make a public announcement of it. When she and her girlfriend Frances Wilks appeared together on the January 2019 cover of Vogue Korea, she was proud, writing on Instagram that “I dislike getting too personal in social networks, but I thought it important to mention that this is one of the very first covers to ever feature a gay couple in the South Korean mass media and I am incredibly grateful to @voguekorea for allowing me to appear as I am, next to @franceswilks who’s part of who I am and what I stand for.” In this post, she used the hashtag #gaysingucci.
I should have seen this COS collaboration coming where, more openly, Coco uses her text-based work to share her messages of love, freedom, and inclusivity as well as to advocate for gay rights, principally the right to love whoever.
And you guessed it—In the T-shirt capsule collection she designed for COS in her signature handwriting style, among her three designs featuring her concise, forcefully expressive maxims is the statement “Always love because love is always love,” a reiteration of what Boy George was trying to say in 1984 in “Love is Love,” except that in this iteration, even as it celebrates all forms of love, including heterosexual love, there is no holding back, no ambiguity necessary to avoid any backlash. The COS shirt by Coco is available in the Philippines at COS Manila SM Aura Premier at ₱3,250.
The other two designs, inspired by Coco’s personal relationships are even bolder, almost a declaration of war to the homophobic—“A boyfriend called my girlfriend” and “Would you be my
boyfriend girl queer friend?” These two designs are only available at COS stores in the US and the European Union. I wonder why.
Available in unisex sizing, the designs are embroidered onto an organic heavyweight cotton T-shirt to lend a boxy, structured fit.
Aside from the shirt by Coco Capitán, also available bearing the colors of the Pride flag is a special edition of the repurposed cotton tote. Made from excess cotton from COS’ production process, the tote, 100 percent recyclable, is made to last. It was conjured up to replace disposable packaging.
What’s more, all proceeds from the sales of the T-shirt capsule collection, as well as 100 percent of the profits from the sales of the Pride edition tote, will be donated to Philippine-based LGBT+ organizations, such as Galang, a female-led non-profit organization working with and for economically disadvantaged LGBTQI (http://www.galangphilippines.org/ ), and Love Yourself, a non-profit LGBT organization that provides safe spaces and services for the sexual, mental, and transgender community in the Philippines (https://loveyourself.ph/ )
Now I have all these reasons to put on my Pride shirt by Coco Capitán while listening on Spotify to Boy George confessing, “Open up your eyes and you will see/Love is love is everything to me.”