Cyndi Lauper’s seminal 1986 album, True Colors, not only earned the legendary singer two Grammy noms—its title track became a civil rights anthem for the LGBT community.
Ever since, Lauper has been a staunch supporter of LGBT rights, becoming a fixture at gay pride events and raising money through charity work. Now, she’s parlaying her unwavering belief in equality into something tangible with the launch of her shoe collection with M4D3 (Make a Difference Everyday), an organization dedicated to creating products with a purpose.
The three-piece line, priced between $65 and $75, includes a denim hi-top sneaker, a leopard print slip-on sneaker, and a men’s white hi-top sneaker. “Each style was designed to be worn in all kinds of situations,” Lauper told InStyle. Proceeds from sales benefit the True Colors Fund, her foundation which works to end homelessness among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth across the country. Below, we spoke to Lauper about the collaboration, ’80s fashion trends, and the cause closest to her heart.
“We tried to make something that was interesting and fun to wear, that you could rock any way you want—whether you’re conservative or more outgoing.”
How would you style them?
“I’d wear them with fishnets underneath, but they work just as well with a faded ripped boyfriend jean, or a thick sock.”
Sounds pretty ‘80s! Would you say your fashion sense has changed a lot since then?
“I love fashion. It changes all the time, but I’m not going to wear what I wore in the ‘80s. That was a whole different time—I think I’d look quite ridiculous with all the makeup and crazy hairdos. I wear what feels empowering. Above all, whatever you wear has to bring you joy. It should be glamorous and make you feel good about yourself. And that’s the most important thing about style: You should know what works for your body and what doesn’t.”
Is there one look from that decade you’d never bring back?
“I think everything comes back in style—you just wear it differently. Maybe a vintage corset with jeans.”
You’ve championed the LGBT community for years, and they’ve embraced you as an icon. What sparked your interest initially?
“I’m the aunt and cousin or sister you can’t get rid of. Initially, I got involved because nobody else was getting involved. I wasn’t going to sit idly and watch my family members and dear friends have their civil rights stripped [Ed note: Lauper’s older sister, Ellen, is a lesbian and activist in the gay community]. Everyone was totally disenfranchised and was contemplating suicide. Something had to be done. You should never kill yourself because you’re different. There are a lot of great people who didn’t blend in who were different.”
Thanks to trailblazing activists like Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner, there’s been a lot of positive change in recent years.
“There has been some change, but I wish in my heart that those changes had come sooner for those who were forced to live through a harder time. Forty percent of the 1.6 million kids out there are homeless right now, and identify as LGBT. We have to educate people and their parents, too.”