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Elton Ilirjani: The LGBT Activist Who Took the BESFXXK Show by Storm at New York Fashion Week

Elton Ilirjani, an LGBT activist and model, made a bold statement by opening the runway for the Concept Korea show at New York Fashion Week on February 14, 2023. Ilirjani walked for South Korean high fashion brand BESFXXK, donning a puffer dress with a sweater and vest. With over ten million followers on Instagram, Ilirjani has been a prominent voice in pushing for greater inclusivity in the fashion industry.

According to Ilirjani, “In today’s world, a model is not just a model, but also a role model who can have their voice be heard.” Ilirjani’s statement highlights the importance of genderless modeling on the runway and the role of fashion in shaping cultural norms.

The runway show began with Elton Ilirjani opening the show as atmospheric music played. The show transitioned to showcase BESFXXK’s signature style of modern, architectural pieces influenced by traditional cuts. The collection features clean-cut trench coats, pantsuits, and dresses, along with bespoke cuts that introduce elements of retro sportswear, fusing luxury and streetwear.

Ilirjani’s presence at the BESFXXK show has drawn attention to the lack of organic queer representation on the runway, and the need for greater inclusivity in the fashion industry. “I want to bring the Queer presence on the runway and in the fashion industry,” said Ilirjani. “We all can be free, and women will not have to see this as a kind of competition, but as a freedom for them instead. Women are not objects and should not be evaluated only from the way they look. Women are individuals!”

Notable attendees at the show included Hyoyeon and Trinidad James, musicians, Mariama Diallo and Aisatta Diallo, models, Aliyah Bah, an influencer, and Kelvi Kadilli, an Albanian actor.

BESFXXK is an experimental fashion house founded by designers Jae Hyuk Lim and Bona Kim in 2017. The brand’s design philosophy involves physically combining separate pieces with different backgrounds and histories. This approach results in wearable pieces that blend luxury and streetwear in unexpected harmony.

The “Concept Korea” fashion show took place at Spring Studios in New York City, featuring BESFXXK, CAHIES, and ULKIN. The event showcased the diverse and exceptional design styles and craftsmanship of the South Korean fashion scene. With a focus on cultural influences, historical significance, and personal experiences, the collections presented tell a story that lives and breathes beyond its functional form. Each look made a statement on the runway, resulting in a unique and unexpected harmony between each piece.

Concept Korea, an official program for New York Fashion Week sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and organized by the Korea Creative Content Agency, celebrates its 13th anniversary since its inception in 2010. Over the years, Concept Korea has provided a platform for Korean designers to showcase their talents and gain wider recognition in the global fashion industry. Due to the pandemic, the event adopted a digital format in 2021 and 2022, but it continues to present the collections of three designers with unique and compelling stories during New York Fashion Week.

Connect with Elton Ilirjani 


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