The porn star turned actor reminds us of fashion’s complicated love affair with sex work subcultures.
Fashion has long taken inspiration from the aesthetics of sex work while excluding sex workers from its spaces. That’s why Chloe Cherry’s rise to runway “It girl” has been so refreshing.
Since starring in Euphoria season two as Faye — a mini-skirt-wearing, disheveled, Barbie-like character — the porn star turned actor has become fashion’s newest muse. And her latest partnership proves she’s not going away anytime soon.
On May 7, Canadian luxury retailer Ssense revealed its Spring/Summer 2022 Versace campaign: a one-woman show starring none other than Cherry. The series of promotional videos feature the actor and model in an office setting wearing different Versace outfits, including the TikTok-famous Medusa Aevitas platform heels.
The campaign plays on her carefully manufactured ditzy image, with scenes showing her struggling to walk against a wind-blowing machine, wrestling to get her handbag back from a robot and smiling absentmindedly at the camera.
After her first appearance in Euphoria’s premiere episode, Cherry quickly transcended her chaotic train wreck character as fans became more intrigued by the actor herself. Her cartoonish facial features and background in adult entertainment played into her allure, and she’s since emerged as a bona fide fashion star.
In the past few months, Chloe Cherry has been signed to a modelling agency and walked in New York and Milan Fashion Weeks, gracing the runways of LaQuan Smith and GCDS, respectively. She’s recently been tapped as the face of Gen Z’s favourite inclusive underwear brand Parade and has stepped out in designer brands including Dion Lee, Supriya Lele and Chet Lo.
In her rise to high fashion fame, Cherry has been unapologetic about aspects of her image that may seem controversial. She proudly shared that her artificial aesthetic (namely her over-plumped lips) was modelled after Bratz dolls. And she openly credits her career in porn as “training” for Hollywood acting.
The 24-year-old performer has been working in the adult film industry since she was 18. She’s starred in over 200 films, including a Euphoria porn parody. She’s been clear that sex work is something she wanted to do, not something she was forced into. She’s spoken about the importance of boundaries and consent in porn. And she’s educated her fans on “whorephobia,” which she describes as hating someone because they’re a sex worker.
With a confident display of plastic beauty and playful ditziness, Cherry has become an emblem of modern-day Bimbohood, which aims to reclaim the term and challenge the harmful stigmas associated with it. And her mere presence in high fashion spaces confronts the longstanding marginalization of sex workers.
Popular design elements such as latex, G-strings, and bondage-esque fetishwear are inspired by sex work subcultures like BDSM. Designers use these pieces on red carpets and runways, but often don’t credit sex workers or include them in the creative process.
By continuing to embrace open dialogues about porn even as her career takes her to more traditionally exclusive spaces, Chloe Cherry is demystifying sex work. This is something capital “F” fashion has long failed to do, despite capitalizing on sex workers’ style.
Cherry’s rise to fame falls in line with the growing acceptance of controversial aesthetics that have been traditionally looked down upon. Take the viral resurgence of the Bimbohood lifestyle prompted by TikTok. Or the fact that one of the biggest fashion icons of the moment is Cardi B, who was a stripper before her music career took off.
As the new face of Versace, Chloe Cherry represents another disruption of the outdated prestige politics associated with luxury brands. With an experimental clothing style and a playfully exaggerated look, her over-the-top aesthetic brings much-needed levity to high fashion spaces. Also, we love to see a sex worker winning.