The sultry black and white photographs show a girl with the kind of coolness that can’t be defined. She’s iridescent, and effortlessly stylish – all quiet composure and impossible cheekbones, a classic trench coat slung over her shoulders. At 23 years old, she has the serene smile of a young woman who really knows herself, and is comfortable in that self. If you didn’t recognise her, you’d never guess that a couple of years ago New York magazine named her “the prettiest boy in the world.”
Andreja Pejic has been in hundreds of fashion shoots throughout her career, but this is her first time in American Vogue – and it’s the first time a transgender woman has been featured on those hallowed glossy pages.
To the more cynical among us, it might seem like a small milestone. But it’s one that matters, dovetailing with a larger movement in popular culture towards acceptance of gender and sexual differences.
Whether you’re interested in fashion or not, Vogue still has incredible authority over what’s cool, what’s desirable, and what’s acceptable. For a cultural influencer on that scale to make a gesture towards diversity, that’s a sign of something pretty cool happening.
It’s less than a year since the Melbourne-raised model publically came out as transgender. The four-page Vogue feature, appearing in the May 2015 issue, relates Andreja’s story – from a childhood in a Serbian refugee camp, to ruling the Paris runways in Jean Paul Gaultier – and takes it as a starting point to explore the growing cultural and political acceptance of transgender identity. “There are just more categories now. It’s good,” Andreja says in the interview. “We’re finally figuring out that gender and sexuality are more complicated.” (more…)
Or, why you should see JPG@NGV before it closes.
The world of Jean Paul Gaultier is one without boundaries. It’s sexy and witty, blending high and low culture, using materials in unpredictable ways to graft together unique statements, often about gender and sexuality. This is a designer who says “why not?”; who approaches his work exuberance and zest, and uses his creative energy to question, provoke, and make people laugh.
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk has been on display at the National Gallery of Victoria since October, and there’s now just a sliver of time left to catch a glimpse before it closes on February 8. And if you haven’t been down there yet, I really think you should. (more…)
A lot of people are really mad about this Vogue cover, and I don’t completely get why. To me, it’s actually kind of beautiful (but then, I’m a romantic sucker that way sometimes). But more to the point, I think it’s sort of interesting to see the beauty and mystique of Vogue blended with this snapshot of current mass popular culture – which, let’s face it, is postmodernism on acid, and for which, let’s face it, Kim and Kanye are surely pretty suitable symbols. (more…)
In a way I kind of hate going to fashion shows, because I feel so messy and unglamorous in my eBay hand-me-downs, and I’m a big poser pretending my knowledge of fashion goes any deeper than OMG LOOK AT ALL THE PRETTY THINGS. But in another way I love it completely, because OMG so many beautiful people and beautiful clothes and you can drink champagne and get free cosmetics and everything is so beautiful and cool. And this year’s L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival was pretty great in that same miserable/exhilarating/inspiring/depressing kind of way.
Obviously, even if I could afford to buy this stuff I couldn’t actually wear the styles I love, but that’s not really the point anyway. Designer clothes just aren’t really made for women who are shorter than 5’11″ or bigger than a size 6, or who, you know, have breasts and hips – which is a whole other complex kettle of fish in itself, but I’ve made my peace with it, mostly. But in an imaginary world where I look like Georgia May Jagger and have her bank account as well, this is what I’d fill my wardrobe with. (more…)
The Stars (Are Out Tonight), the second single from David Bowie’s upcoming record The Next Day, was released earlier this week, and it’s kind of everything. The song is beautiful, grungy and melodic, with a sweeping energy that is unmistakably Bowie. But what’s more exciting is the way it is brought to life in a strange, gorgeous and beguiling video, starring Tilda Swinton, Andreja Pejic, Saskia de Brauw, and Iselin Steiro.
It’s like a creepy little arthouse film – disturbing, sexy and utterly bizarre. Bowie and Swinton (who many have long suspected may actually be the same person) play a straight-laced, middle-aged couple living quietly in the suburbs. “We have a nice life,” Swinton says, kissing Bowie on the cheek as they do their supermarket shopping. He is starting distractedly at a magazine cover featuring an incredibly young, glamorous and decadent celebrity couple plastered on the cover. Then he tosses it aside. “We have a nice life,” he agrees firmly. (more…)
If you had suggested to me at any point in the 24 years that I’ve been alive that we go to the ballet I probably would have said “Oh PLEASE, are you trying to lull me into a coma?” Even now the idea of sitting through two hours or more of the traditional sort of slow, cultured, pitter-pattery sort of affair isn’t all that appealing – I’m too fidgety, too used to loud guitars, too full of myself to think I could enjoy something so pretty and proper.
And yet. I’ve found myself strangely entranced by all the beautiful photographs I keep seeing lately in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of The Australian Ballet. Vogue described ballet and fashion as having “a beautiful simpatico” and that phrase has lingering in my head for weeks. There is something about dance that lends itself to the ethereal and dramatic – beautiful textures, delicate detailing, soft draping and striking feminine silhouettes. Just like dancers themselves, ballet costumes need to look weightless and fragile and beautiful, but also be sturdy as hell to withstand an incredibly physically demanding performance. And that’s pretty cool. (more…)
In honour of Taylor Swift Week (because, shut up, yeah?) I’m thinking about everything red. Everything that looks red, and feels red, but is also black and white in a way. Lacy, romantic Valentino dresses. My favourite Kate Moss lipstick. Someone playing an acoustic guitar, just for me. I see perfect nights, saturated with the smell of champagne, where you laugh so much your belly hurts, and you think your girlfriends are the most beautiful creatures you’ve ever seen. Or dancing to Call Me Maybe in someone’s backyard. Or lazy mornings curled up with someone warm, feeling their skin against yours and knowing you’ll remember it one day. Knowing that it’s rare, but also so simple. Dreading the day when you might hate each other. Remembering out of nowhere a forgotten ember of hurt, and wondering if he ever remembers you, if he still has a box of your things. I see nights walking slowly down the street alone, feeling like you’re underwater, and coming home to throw your high heels at the wall and cry into your cat’s fur. I see Vera Wang wedding gowns, stained an inky garnet, dripping off pale skin. Red leaves, cold wind, long hair. Falling in love with the smallest things, and wondering how anyone in the world couldn’t be in love with that gap in his teeth.
That’s what Red sounds like to me.
It kind of looks like this.
Lately I’ve been attempting to clean out my wardrobe. It’s difficult for me, partly because I use my entire apartment as my wardrobe, and partly because I can be a bit of a hoarder. I’m not what you’d call a domestic goddess (though I console myself with the reminder that I am a professional woman with things to do, and why spend my few precious spare moments cleaning dishes when I could be clutching my feline and eating chocolate?) but despite my belief that fretting about domestic chores is largely a waste of time, lately I’ve been reconsidering over the whole wardrobe thing.
Having a well-organised wardrobe has become a new sort of status symbol, a signifier of adulthood. To have everything either folded neatly or hanging properly on wooden hangers, sorted by colour or type of garment or level of formalness, or even a complicated system of all three, means you’ve really got it all together. It’s sort of like doing yoga, or eating organics. Remove all the clutter and you become calm and balanced.
But it’s difficult. Even though it’s common sense to get rid of garments that don’t fit or don’t suit you or that for whatever reason you’re never going to wear, actually putting them in the garbage bag is pretty hard. (more…)
I like books, and I like to look at beautiful clothes, and I especially like it when two of the things I like collide. Literature to me seems like a limitless wealth of inspiration for any kind of visual art and design, and there’s a long list of books I think could inspire some pretty cool fashion collections – On the Road, Cold Comfort Farm, The Secret History, Wuthering Heights, even like American Psycho. But also, these ones that have actually happened are pretty cool too…
For his 2012 Fall/Winter collection, Honduran designer Carlos Campos presented a line inspired by Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s classic, excruciating story of unrequited love. With flourishes of fiery red (“the colour of love, passion and blood,” Campos says) against earthy tones of camel, terracotta and sand, the vibrant colour palette instantly evokes the exotic flavour of Latin America, recalling all the relentless passion and intensity so often associated with its culture, and particularly symbolised in Florentino Ariza. The bold block colours and clean-cut lines of the garments contrast against the luxurious softness of the cashmere, silks and wools reflecting something of the tension between intensity and delicacy that romance naturally evokes. (more…)
This feature was originally published in 3000Melbourne magazine.
There’s a scene in the movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (an adaptation of the novel by Patrick Suskind) in which a retiring perfumer discovers a fragrance created by a young olfactory genius. The scent transports him to a lush, mystical world in his mind. Surrounded by luscious flowers, a beautiful woman leans in and kisses him on the cheek and whispers in his ear. When he opens his eyes again, the change in him is visible – the scent has moved him, altered him in some way.
This is what Emma Leah believes fragrances should do. Working out of a cosy, beautifully decorated atelier on Park St in South Melbourne, Leah creates natural perfumes that she hopes will transport customers in a similar way. “Perfume is something that’s intimate, something that’s on the skin when you’ve got nothing else there. This is something that’s mixing with your body,” she says. “We want to go back to the lost art of perfumery, for people who feel passionate about fragrance and can’t find the rich perfumes that used to exist.” (more…)