Keeping It in the Family
The fashion crowd toasts Barneys' "Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters" campaign
"These models look better than I ever will—look at those legs!" said one guest last night at the Barneys New York dinner launching its Spring 2014 ad campaign. The surprise in that statement is that "Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters" uses 17 transgender women and men, almost none of whom were professional models prior to the shoot—and they all look really, really good. Of course, making it through a rigorous casting process and having Bruce Weber behind the lens helps, too. Ryley Pogensky is hoping to get signed by a modeling agency after the campaign goes wide. He told Style.com, "My experience as a black trans person has been especially unique. But I don't want to be fetishized—you know, 'that trans model.' I just want to be a great model."
"I wanted to be involved when I knew Bruce was on board," said another model, Amsterdam DJ and ballerina Valentijn De Hingh, "because he pushes boundaries in really beautiful ways." Weber has a lot invested in the project. Not only has he been working with Barneys creative director Dennis Freedman for fifteen years, but the first subject he shot when he moved to New York City was Candy Darling, the transgender muse of Andy Warhol.
The thirty-five-minute Weber-directed campaign video premiered during dinner, and was greeted with cheers, applause, and a few tears as it veered from fashion photography to searing personal testimony. Footage from the campaign shoot is intercut with scenes from Paris Is Burning and references to Studio 54 club culture, a time when the trans community in New York first began to flourish. "There has been so much progress for LGB over the years, but we've forgotten the 'T' at the end," Freedman said. "And we wanted this to be so much more than a fashion shoot—it's about sharing the stories of these incredible people."