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19th February 2013

Transgender models

The notoriously exclusive fashion industry proves it has a new direction, argues Chloe Letcher

Turning the pages of this month’s Vogue, one shoot in particular stood out. Staring at me from the Giorgio Armani ad was a broad shouldered, chisel-jawed and dark-haired model. I am not (unfortunately) talking about David Beckham in his underwear, but you wouldn’t be wrong in making the assumption I was talking about a male. However, the model in question was female. When compared to the picture on the opposite page, which features the same model looking ultra feminine in a blue satin dress, it becomes increasingly obvious that this Armani ad reflects a widely emerging trend in the fashion world; androgyny.

Yet the issue of androgyny within fashion is taken to a whole new level when considering the rise of the transgender model. The most prominent transgender figure in fashion circles is Lea T. Lea was born in 1981 as Leandro Cerezo in Brazil. After being discovered by Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, she has since graced the covers of Vogue, Elle and Cover magazine, and even posed with Kate Moss for the cover of Love magazine. Lea stormed the catwalk at Milan Fashion Week this year, opening and closing the Philipp Plein show. After undergoing gender reassignment surgery in 2011, she even modelled bikinis for swimsuit brand Blue Man at Brazil Fashion Week.

Lea is not the only model in the industry whose success and popularity is aided by her status as transgender. Take, for example, Andrej Pejic, he has walked the catwalk for Jean Paul Gaultier as a bride.

Regardless of whether transgender models are considered suitably contemporary, or just simply controversial, there is no doubt that the fashion world is again testifying to its status as an art form by challenging the status quo of gender expectations.

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