75 posts tagged "Jean Paul Gaultier"
You won’t be seeing any more of Andrej Pejic, the androgynous male model who rose to fame in 2010 after Carine Roitfeld had him photographed in womenswear for Paris Vogue. An onslaught of editorials followed (including a shirtless Dossier Journal cover that was essentially banned by Barnes & Noble for fear their customers would think he was a naked woman), and he even walked as the beautiful bride in Jean Paul Gaultier’s Spring ’11 Couture show (below). But Andrej’s days on the runway are over. However, Andreja’s career is just getting started.
Earlier this year, Andreja underwent sexual reassignment surgery (SRS). She always knew she was a woman, but her body, or at least parts of it, didn’t match up. Yesterday, the model trekked from her current Williamsburg digs to LGBT advocacy group GLAAD’s Chelsea headquarters to speak, for the first time, about her transition. Donning a white crop top and embellished Ports 1961 skirt, Pejic, who was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina but was raised in Melbourne (hence her charming Aussie accent), looked as angelic as ever. “I feel good,” she told me before sitting down. It showed.
You can bet you’ll be seeing quite a bit of Andreja Pejic—she has a role in Sofia Coppola’s forthcoming rendition of The Little Mermaid, and plans for fashion week are already in the works. Here, the six-foot-one stunner (who, it should be noted, has cheekbones that could cut glass) opens up to Style.com about her SRS, the challenges of being a transgender model, and why, at long last, she’s “ready to face the world.”
How do you identify?
I identify as a female.
How did you identify before the sexual reassignment surgery?
I figured out who I was very early on—actually, at the age of 13, with the help of the Internet—so I knew that a transition, becoming a woman, was always something I needed to do. But it wasn’t possible at the time, and I put it off, and androgyny became a way of expressing my femininity without having to explain myself to people too much. Especially to my peers [who] couldn’t understand things like “trans” and gender identity. And then obviously the modeling thing came up, and I became this androgynous male model, and that was a big part of my growing up and my self-discovery. But I always kept in mind that, ultimately, my biggest dream was to be a girl. I wasn’t ready to talk about it before in a public way because I was scared that I would not be understood. I didn’t know if people would like me. But now I’m taking that step because I’m a little older—I’m 22—and I think my story can help people. My goal is to give a human face to this struggle, and I feel like I have a responsibility.
You seem to have had a firm understanding of your identity at an early age. Was growing up as a boy difficult?
Gender dysphoria is never an easy thing to live with, mainly because people don’t understand it. For most of my childhood, I knew that I preferred all things feminine, but I didn’t know why. I didn’t know that there was an explanation. I didn’t know about the possibilities. And then I went on sort of a boyhood campaign from age 9 to about 13. I tried to be a “normal” boy because I felt like my options were either to be a gay boy or a straight boy. I didn’t feel that I was gay, so I didn’t know that there were any other options until the age of 13, when I went online and discovered that there’s a whole community of trans people out there. There are doctors, there’s medical care, there’s research, and that was an eye-opener for me. From that day on, I knew what I had to do.
Some people write off SRS as a purely cosmetic surgery. Can you speak a little bit about that, and why it’s not the case?
Yeah, a lot of people view it as a plastic procedure, like you go to a surgeon and say, “Oh, I want to be a woman.” It’s so much more complicated than that. You have to get a psychiatric evaluation, which I started at the age of 13. I started seeing psychiatrists, and then I stopped when I started modeling, and I started again about a year and a half ago. But medical attention is crucial for any trans person because it helps you figure out who you are. You go through some really strict testing before you’re even allowed to have the surgery.
Are there any other myths you’d like to debunk? Or is there anything else you want the general public to understand about SRS and transgender people?
I would like them to understand that we are people. We’re human beings, and this is a human life. This is reality for us, and all we ask for is acceptance and validation for what we say that we are. It’s a basic human right.
You’ve legally changed your name from Andrej to Andreja. Why was that important to you?
I added an “a” because it’s not a full transformation —it’s just an evolution. I thought about whether I should change it or not for a while. In the West, Andrej isn’t really a masculine name. But I think [the name change] is something that my mom really wanted because, traditionally, Andrej is a Christian Orthodox name, and in that religion, it’s definitely a male name. So I kept the “j” and added an “a,” which actually becomes a name that I don’t think exists. But I wanted to keep the “j” because that’s me. That’s my name.
How did your modeling agents react when you told them you were having SRS?
It’s been an interesting experience. I had the surgery early this year, and I told my men’s agent at DNA about two weeks before the operation. I just said, “This is what’s happening,” because I didn’t want anything to stop me. I had decided. And then recently, I had a meeting with the women’s [team], and they’ve been very positive about moving from the men’s board to the women’s board, which is amazing. It’s something I guess no one’s ever done.
Weren’t you on both the men’s and women’s boards before the surgery?
Actually, all over the world I was, but not in New York. I guess the American market isn’t as progressive.
How do you feel your transition from an androgynous male model to a female model will impact your career?
I hope everything goes well. [SRS] was a personal decision. I took this step, and I said to myself, My career is just going to have to fall into place around it. So I hope that I can continue my success. I think I’ve shown that I have skills as a model, and those skills don’t just go away. I’ve had experience. I’ve been around the block.
Androgyny and the transgender community seem to be at the center of the cultural and, more specifically, the fashion conversation at the moment. Hood by Air by Shayne Oliver, who enlisted voguers to model at the Fall ’14 show, is a prime example. Where do you think this focus on the transgender community is coming from?
The trend of androgyny and the exploration of trans beauty started around 2010, and that’s when Lea T and I both started [modeling]. Everyone was kind of saying, “Oh, it’s just a trend, it’s going to go away,” and it hasn’t. I think that’s because it represents a social layer of people who feel that they don’t want to conform to traditional forms of gender—who feel traditional forms of gender are outdated. That social base feeds the trend, and it feeds the exploration in fashion.
Do you feel the fashion industry has been welcoming and supportive throughout your career?
I got my success very quickly, and the media attention has been pretty positive. People like Jean Paul Gaultier, Carine Roitfeld, and Juergen Teller have been extremely supportive. But my biggest challenge was to not always be pigeonholed, and also to make [androgyny] commercially successful, because when I started, it was such a new thing. Still, there are a lot of roadblocks, particularly when working with cosmetic brands or perfumes or those sort of commercial, corporate things. It’s been more difficult to break into that world than “fashion” because it hasn’t been done before. They don’t have any market research, and people in that world aren’t risk takers. You have to prove to them over and over that you are liked by people, you have a skill, and you can sell a product.
Is landing a beauty campaign something you aspire to do?
It’s a goal for any model! It would be cray cray. But we’ll see. I’m happy to keep doing what I love, and for me it’s like I’m already living the dream.
Have you had any experiences in castings, etc., that have been particularly frustrating?
Oh, yeah, especially in the beginning, when I first moved to London. It was like, I’d walk into the boys’ casting, and they were like, “No…you don’t belong here.” And then at the girls’ casting, they were like, “Why are they sending us boys?” So it took time for everyone to get on board. It wasn’t all sweet sailing.
What do you think the fashion industry can do to further embrace the transgender community?
It would be lovely to live in a world where trans-female models were treated as female models, and trans-male models were treated the same as male models, rather than being a niche commodity. I think that that is the biggest struggle in all this. It’s almost like African-American models back in the nineties. It was like, “Oh, you can do this, but you can’t do that. You can do runway, but no print.” So I think that’s what needs to change.
When I first met you last year, you already seemed like a pretty confident individual. Do you feel more comfortable—or more you— since having the SRS?
I think from my teenage years, when I decided I needed to express my femininity, I was happy with the way I looked. But SRS is kind of the last part—it’s sort of the icing on the cake. It makes me feel freer than ever. Now I can stand naked in front of a mirror and really enjoy my reflection. And those personal moments are important.
But you’ve always been gorgeous. Did you not enjoy your reflection before?
Not fully naked.
I know you’re close with your mom. Has she been supportive throughout this transition?
I came out to my mom at the age of 14. She didn’t understand it at first, but she’s been very supportive since.
Has going through this transition as a public figure been very difficult?
There’s a difference between coming out to your family and close friends, and coming out to the whole world and opening yourself up to judgment. When I was younger, I just wasn’t ready for that. Even now, it’s hard to navigate. I try to concentrate on myself and what I really need, but there are so many other factors that go into it. You have to figure out timing, you have to figure out agencies. Public perception influences that. It’s a lot of pressure, and modeling is a lot of pressure anyway. I think most models have to live up to something, and they struggle with that. So to have that on top of this, there have definitely been difficult moments.
If I may ask, how do you think the SRS will impact your personal and romantic life? Is that something you’re excited about exploring?
Yeah, I’m very happy with this new situation, and I’m happy to keep exploring.
Are you dating anyone?
No, I’m single. I’m open to love, so I’m taking some time off for myself now. I think that’s necessary. We’ll see. But you know, I feel more comfortable than ever, more confident than ever, and I’m ready to face the world.
At Prada’s Spring ’14 show, we knew Miuccia was onto something. The giant face murals and face-printed fur coats and dresses sparked a revelation: Who knew the human visage made for such a compelling print? As such, we’re not surprised that the trend is popping up in the Pre-Fall and Fall ’14 menswear collections, but this time around the renderings are more abstract. Guillaume Henry, for instance, sent out sketchy doodles at Carven today. The frenzied black figures drawn on simple, collarless white button-downs seemed a fusion of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Tim Burton. At Stella McCartney’s Pre-Fall fete, the designer said she was inspired by Billy Idol-era punk. McCartney enlisted Gary Hume to draw loopy faces for an ivory crewneck and a black boxy overcoat, truly blurring the line between fashion and art. Finally, at Jean Paul Gaultier, the designer worked a few trends at once, splashing dark, grungy caricatures across a pure-as-snow fur jacket. In addition, his entire lookbook was shot against a cartoonish, hand-drawn backdrop—original art by JPG himself.
Last year, Gill Linton launched Byronesque.com, a comprehensive Web site that, backed by Andrew Rosen and the late Marvin Traub, offers high-end vintage wares and sharp editorials. The online platform boasts a veritable treasure trove of rare, authenticated vintage designs, like an azure Jean Paul Gaultier frock, an asymmetrical Yohji Yamamoto dress, and a bevy of Thierry Mugler and Alaïa. And while it all looks spectacular in one’s browser, Linton felt she should create an IRL experience with the digital destination’s best stock.
Enter the site’s first brick-and-mortar venture, Byronesque.com//Offline, an exhibition and boutique housed in the dilapidated annex of the James A. Farley Post Office in New York City. Offline is complete with video installations, melancholic wall art by Craig Ward, and a vault of approximately forty impeccably dressed mannequins. Yesterday evening, insiders gathered to fete the project, which was punctuated with a live Polaroid photography session by the inimitable Michèle Lamy. “It’s difficult to [decide] what is mainstream or not…but being here feels real, and what they are trying to do is very important,” Lamy said of the site.
“There’s so much potential in vintage fashion,” said Linton. “It’s made better, there’s a story behind it, and there’s a history behind it. The way I merchandise the store is through storytelling—there’s a curve of Vivienne Westwood from Pirate to Seditionaries, for example—but it’s not that it has to be a linear progression. It’s about the energy of stuff.”
The stuff on display includes a 1984 John Galliano men’s kimono coat from his graduate Central Saint Martins collection, Les Incroyables (not for sale); a burlap Alexander McQueen look from F/W ’02; a 1986 Azzedine Alaïa leather zip dress; and a Katharine Hamnett allover marijuana-leaf-print bodysuit.
Glenn O’Brien lent his support by co-hosting the affair. “Everybody mixes vintage in,” he said, “I can’t tell you how long I’ve had this Kilgour, French, & Stanbury coat; it must be twenty years since I bought it at Barneys. Vintage is kind of where the next ideas come from. You can be a step ahead by wearing something that’s so out that it’s just about ready to come back.”
Byronesque.com//Offline will open to the public on December 12 and run through the 15th. Located at the James A. Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue at West 31st Street, the show will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Olivier Saillard—author, poet, star fashion curator—tends to prefer a contemplative moment over a grand event. He is also fond of saying that, had he ever studied fashion design, he would have done “just one dress” and then retired his tape measure.
Last night in Paris, he offered both. Eternity Dress, a fifty-one-minute performance starring Tilda Swinton, sponsored by Chloé, and staged at the École des Beaux-Arts this week as part of the city’s fall festival, has been sold out for months. In it, Saillard and Swinton explore the art of dressmaking, starting with lines and measurements (waist: 28 inches, and so forth) working up through flat patterns and the beginnings of a dress, which Swinton took a moment to sew on herself. As the dress took form, Swinton recited a litany of collar styles in French and released a world of emotion in the turn of a sleeve, finally draping herself in rich-hued chiffon and velvet unfurled from bolts lined up on the floor.
Ultimately, The Dress—a black sheath with long sleeves and an open back—was a stand-in for a century of fashion history, from Paul Poiret to Comme des Garçons. One of the show’s high points, as well as its biggest laugh, showed Swinton striking a series of emblematic poses for houses from Poiret to Yohji Yamamoto, by way of Chanel, Dior, Mugler, YSL, and Jean Paul Gaultier. Among a roomful of designers including Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, Bouchra Jarrar, Martine Sitbon, and Clare Waight Keller, Haider Ackermann was first on his feet for the ovation. “It’s absolutely a piece of my life,” said Waight Keller. “They’ve taken everyday materials like tape and chalk and elevated them to an art form about designing a dress from scratch. It’s about craft, measuring, and a considered approach. It’s poetry.”
“One of the things about Tilda is that she can do anything,” noted Saillard after the performance. “She’s not a ‘fashion girl,’ so she can be a sculpture, an actress, a woman, a man, she can be 18 or 75 years old. It was like we were in a bubble, and the experience gave us lots of new ideas. Fashion has to be surprising.”
At the small cocktail party held afterward at Lapérouse, Swinton added, “Olivier is a playmate. We work and play together and come up with crackers ideas for some other time—it’s wonderful to be able to play off of someone like that.” Asked whether she realizes that she would be any designer’s dream to work with, Swinton let loose a small bombshell: “Maybe it’s because I know nothing about fashion!”