Rob Halford

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Rob Halford, the Metal God (TM) songwriter and four octave singer of the legendary English band Judas Priest, was in large part responsible for the sartorial association of rock with S&M fetish gear. When the group began performing in 1969 they wore the typical rock uniform of the day (complete with floral-print and bell bottoms) but later moved into leather and spikes to coincide with the release of the album Killing Machine. The look became influential throughout the genre and came to define their costuming for decades.

For Halford, coming out was a lucky accident: It slipped out during an interview with MTV in 1998. The singer has expressed his surprise that fans never realized ahead of time given that he had been responsible for a wardrobe that drew inspiration from gay fetish stores.

Halford’s Twitter (largely advertisements for band merchandise) is available here; his Facebook is here.

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Gianni Versace

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Gianni Versace’s name is so famous as a brand of designer clothing that it’s easy to forget there was ever a person attached to it. The openly gay Italian designer took elements of Andy Warhol, Greco-Roman art, and the newer movements of abstract art, and spun them into furniture, fragrances, accessories, and – of course – clothing. He worked on numerous supplementary design projects, including more than a dozen films and Michael Jackson’s HIStory World Tour; he even held an acting role in the 1997 movie Spice World, until he was unexpectedly murdered by a spree killer and the incomplete scenes had to be deleted. Vogue magazine maintains a designer profile for him with a list of his fashion accomplishments, including pioneering jeans as catwalk couture and selling leather bondage dresses; a photographic essay on Versace from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries is available here.

Even after death, Versace’s brand lives on in an official website and its affiliated boutiques.