by Peche Di
I was so happy to be selected to be one of the featured models for this project. Barneys has dared to develop a spring campaign that integrates transgender men and women into the conventional world of fashion. The world’s leading fashion photographer, Bruce Weber, shot the campaign. Mr. Weber is known for creating an “all American” feel with his fashion shoots. This notion fits perfectly with drawing transgender models into Madison Avenue fashion because of their beauty, rather than what makes them different. In the world of gender identity, all to often the transgender community is either ignored or focused on exclusively because of a preoccupation on what sexual organs they do or do not have. The Barneys campaign brings a positive focus to transgender issues and accentuates the success stories of the models involved.
The five days of the shoot were wonderful. Barneys entire approach was first class from the morning of day one to the closing dinner. Bruce Weber and his staff were remarkable and brought out the very best in me as well as every other model. His dogs are also amazingly adorable. The makeup artist James Kaliardos, the hairdresser Orlando Pita and the stylist Alex White were all so talented and professional. However, what will remain most memorable for me is the time I was able to have taking to and sharing stories with the other transgender models.
It was so comforting to know that others also share the struggles I face to become accepted as a mainstream model and actress. Through our collective stories and successes I think we all left the shoot feeling more confident about our opportunities and ourselves. The attention on the transgender community is moving away from the fascination on their genitals to recognition of the talents, skills and beauty they possess. The journey for transgender men and women will continue, but Barneys and Bruce Webber have moved the focus in the right direction. For that I thank them. I am looking forward to my next opportunity to be included for all the right reasons. Please don’t forget the “T”.
Barneys New York has partnered with the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and The LGBT Community Center (The Center) to bring these stories to light. On February 11, 10% of proceeds from Barneys' flagship stores and Barneys.com will be donated to the two organizations.