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It was a Thursday night at the restaurant Napoleon in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. Five young men from George Washington University walked into the late-night dining room and were quickly transfixed by performance artist Pussy Noir as she swung about in a sequined dress and a beautifully teased out Afro. Noir slipped the boys a sly smile and shimmied out of the dress within seconds as she flung her wig across the room. The GWU bros were left with a shock across their face and a view of the very-male Pussy Noir in nothing but a pair of heels and thong. They were stunned, but the crowd erupted into applause.

Pussy Noir is a DC native who first made her name in Paris as a classically trained opera singer and artist. Since returning to the States, she has quickly transfixed DC’s art and nightlife communities and affixed herself as one of the most recognizable fashion icons in our nation’s capital. Although not a drag queen, Pussy Noir uses genderfuck fashion to portray a woman on stage during her performances across Washington. Offstage, in her everyday life, Noir (known as Jason Barnes to his friends) lives a very male existence.

Pussy Noir will be performing at the WTF?! Fashion Haus party this Sunday, February 17 (Presidents Day weekend) at Town Danceboutique. Ahead of that fashion-filled performance, we thought we’d sit down with Pussy and talk some fashion.

Photos courtesy of Boys Be Good, Cassidy DuHon, Denis Largeron, Brett Andriesen, and Andrés Miguel Harris.

What first attracted you to fashion?

It was my mom’ red Valentino dress she wore to a costume party when I was about 5 years old.  The dress was a stunning princess dress in which she wore a diamond necklace and tiara.  It was very classic for a costume party on Halloween.

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Where do you draw your fashion inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from everywhere.  If I’m looking to shop and expand my wardrobe I may have a whole conceptual idea of this imaginary lifestyle involving way too much extravagance and adventure.  Then I look for those pieces that I would wear while in the life.  This can be a Brett Easton Ellis novel, historical figures, art objects and music.  All these things inspire a mood, which then manifests in my head, and then gives birth to something physical to wear and look at.

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How do you distinguish between on-stage costume and off-stage wardrobe?

It’s about a level of sophistication.  On stage my character is about exposing and unveiling.  I tend to wear brighter colors and pieces that are torn and ripped, and corsets.  Off stage I’m about simple style.  Just a pair of skinny jeans a fabulous black heel and a loose shirt.

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What’s the most unexpected item that you’ve purposed into fashion?

Heels for men.  Definitely.   I have over forty pairs of black heels all laid out.

Off stage, you identify as male and live your life as a male. Yet, you don’t shy away from utilizing women’s fashion in your wardrobe. 

No, I don’t shy away.  My style makes me memorable and approachable.  Although, I have to say it can scare people as well.  I don’t go for crazy drag looks off stage. My personal style is more real.

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What is a fashion mistake you hope not to repeat?

Bootcut jeans.  I hope I never go back to that not so good time in fashion where we thought a modernized bell-bottom would be cool.  I’m destroying all evidence after this interview is over.

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Who are some of your favorite designers?

My favorite designers always rotate month to month.  Right now it’s Olivier Rousteig for Balmain, because the clothes are super sexy and remind me of supermodels from the early nineties. I’m also a fan of Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy.  He missed the recent couture season, but I love his clothes.  He takes see-through fabrics to a level that can only be adored.  Last would have to Lagerfeld.  The Kaiser he is called.  His Chanel shows alone are better than a Gaga concert.  The clothes are so many that you can find light chiffons, soft woolly boucle, and the most stunning dresses that flatter so many women and some men.

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Who are some celebrities that you think do fashion well?

It’s very rare that celebrities dress well as they have no personal style of their own.  Everything is programmed for them through stylists. However, I do love the new “streetsyle blog celebs” Like Anna Dello Russo, Catherine Baba, and Emmanuelle Alt.  Anna is all about high glam straight off the runway style. She is all about look fit as well; so for a gay man like me she’s an inspiration.  Catherine Baba, a stylist, and lover of Orientalism. Oops, can I still say that?  Well she loves her kimono, strappy heels, and silk and brocade. Then there’s Paris Vogue Directrice,  Emmanuelle Alt.  He style is simple just like me; skinny pants, black heels, and a loose top.  Always clean and classic.

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What’s something that outsiders might not know about the state of fashion in Washington?

D.C. does East Coast Preppy like no other.  This city is the epicenter of the “American” lifestyle and the fashion represents that. The other thing I have to say is that D.C. has a thriving vintage business that is finding a very definitive voice.

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What are your particular fashion tips for women, and then men?

I tend to give women and men the same tips since, in fashion, I never make a distinction between gender myself.  What I would say is, don’t let your clothes over power you.  Don’t be ruled by the trends so much that you have no real identity.

For definitive tips for men, I will say this: Make yourself beautiful. Think about softening the look by not aiming for masculinity. For women: stop hiding behind accessories. Once you discard them, you’ll find a new confidence when your outfit stands on its own.

For both genders, fit is important. Don’t let clothes or an outfit rule you. Buy pieces that look good separately and together and that – again – are not too trendy. It’s easier to achieve a “cool factor” in our American lifestyle when you’re able to put on anything and it will instantly look good no matter the fad. That’s what makes you a show stopper. A constant that very fashionable people have is their ability to tame their sartorial choices.

You can follow Pussy Noir on Facebook and on Twitter at @PussyNoir

You can also catch Pussy Noir in a special performance this Sunday at:

WTF!? Fashion Haus at Town
Sunday, February 17th
featuring supermodels:
Pussy Noir, Banaka, Jaxknife, Indigo & Dirrty Pony
djs Matt Bailer, Aaron Riggins, & Ed Bailey
serve it up in your very own fashion photo shoot
doors open at 10pm / $5 / 21 & over

More info here on Facebook

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ponylittleFor more on the DC queer nightlife scene (or to just have a fabulous gay friend) follow the BYGays on Twitter.
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