Photography by Lauren Perlstein

Introducing Dress Code, a new photo-interview series exploring identity and personal narrative through fashion, style, and self-expression. The first installment features Luca D'Angelo, a 20 year-old student and activist who lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

DRØME: How do you identify?
Luca D'Angelo: I identify as queer and non-binary.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
My style tends towards grungy/punk—think Billy Idol meets Trainspotting meets Sampson from Romeo + Juliet (1996)—but I also have a sportier side. I'm a huge fan of black clothing, leather, combat boots, chains, ripped shirts/jeans, cheetah print, safety pins, and necklaces.

What makes you proud to be who you are?
I was severely bullied between the ages of 11-14 and lost all sense of self-worth, confidence, and self-acceptance. When I started to realize I wasn’t straight around 13, I panicked. I tried to fit in and be something that I’m not but it was exhausting. I don’t remember what provoked me to say “fuck it” and own myself, but at 15 I came out by writing an article for the school paper. That was the beginning of me regaining my self-worth and becoming empowered by my identity. I have overcome a lot to get to where I am now and overcoming those obstacles fueled my involvement in activism and fighting for equality. I’m proud to use my experiences to do something positive and impactful. I’m proud to be openly queer and non-binary and I’m proud to be who I am.

How do you use aesthetic as a tool to explore or express your identity?
My tattoos, piercings, accessories, and clothing choices are all ways that I express my identity. My style allows me to make my queer identity visible and enables me to validate and celebrate my existence. Trying to fit in and present as someone you are not, is miserable. Style and aesthetic are extremely necessary tools when it comes to exploring and expressing queer identity because for so long people like me were told that they couldn’t be themselves.

How has the way that you express yourself through fashion / art changed over time?
Before I came out, my lack of self-confidence was reflected in my appearance; I didn’t put effort into how I looked or what I wore. After I came out, I started to take pride in my appearance and developed a sense of style. As a queer, non-binary person in NYC, fashion continues to play an important role in my life and I play around with different ways to express myself all the time. Ever since I moved to Brooklyn three years ago, I’ve been surrounded by a vast array of people with unique styles, which has given me a new perspective on fashion.

One piece of clothing / accessory you can’t leave the house without?
It’s hard to pick a favorite but if I was told I had to run out of my apartment and could only grab one thing, it’d be my platform Doc Martens.