Meet the High-Fashion Trans Models Who Slayed New York Fashion Week
Diversity was on-trend for the past two New York Fashion Week seasons. Designers are moving away from featuring “Instagirls” like the Jenners and the Hadids on the runway. Instead, they’re bringing realness into the fashion world, this year by featuring a plethora of trans models.
Helmut Lang, under Shayne Oliver’s new artistic direction, sent out a parade of models from every walk of life. Eckhaus Latta, who has an enormous club-kid following, staged a show featuring several non-models, including eight-months-pregnant mom-to-be Maia Ruth Lee in an open-belly cardigan dress.
The message of inclusiveness resonates strongly at NYFW. According to a runway report published by theFashionSpot, NYFW Fall/Winter 2017 had the most diverse cast on the runway as compared to Paris, Milan and London. When you crunch the numbers, in New York 31.5% of the models walking the runway were non-white this season.
And that diversity report isn’t only focused on race. It also looks at differences in size, age and gender. According to the numbers, this season was particularly great for trans models in New York City, where at least 12 trans women strutted down the runway. The number might seem small, but it’s at least double those from previous seasons. (Only six trans models walked the runway during the Spring/Summer 2016 shows.)
NYFW for Spring/Summer 2018 is off to a solid start. Several high-profile designers embraced inclusivity and used several stunners for this season’s shows. We’re stoked to see designers using their opportunity as a platform to address trans visibility in this country. We also hope the trend will become a norm in every industry.
Here are this season’s most prominent designers and the trans models who walked for them.
1. Calvin Klein 205W39NYC
For the first time, a trans model walked Calvin Klein’s runway under Raf Simons’ reign. Ariel Nicholson Murtagh, a 16-year-old trans woman, made her runway debut for the label. Handpicked by Simons himself, Murtagh was happy to get the high-profile gig two weeks after she signed with a modeling agency in NYC. We hope to see more of Murtagh and her Joni Mitchell hairdo in the future.
2. Christian Siriano
Already a champion for including several plus-size models in his runway shows, Siriano is also the latest designer to feature a trans model. As the sole trans woman appearing on the women’s board at Wilhelmina Models, Avie Acosta previously walked for designers like Marc Jacobs. Along with two male models draped in women’s clothing, Acosta graced Siriano’s runway looking regal in his “genderless” show.
3. Prabal Gurung
Andreja Pejic, the original genderfluid supermodel, made a stunning return and walked Gurung’s runway as a proud trans woman this season. Wearing a shimmering powder-blue dress with a high slit, Pejic looked stunning as ever. The first-ever trans woman to sign a cosmetics contract, Pejic is not only a pro but is a trailblazer for the community in the fashion industry.
Chromat’s Becca McCharen-Tran is a big advocate for diversity. Known for her street-inspired sportswear and swimwear, Chromat embraces real women and gives them a voice on and off the runway. For this season, Chromat featured not one but five gorgeous trans models for its Spring/Summer 2018 presentation. Beautiful Filipina model and community activist Leyana Bloom opened the show. Catwalk regular Carmen Carrera, Geena Rocero (cast from Logo’s new documentary Made to Model: Trans Beauty In Fashion) and trans artist Jahmal Golden all made appearances, too. Maya Mones, another stunning trans model, closed the show with applause.
5. Helmut Lang
Ever a risk taker, Shayne Oliver is responsible for bringing this label back to the spotlight. For his debut collection at Helmut Lang, Oliver paid homage to the brand’s original DNA with his design interpretation, infusing his street aesthetics by casting unknowns from every part of the world. From gay adult film performer Justin Brody to trans model and NYC nightlife fixture Sophia Lamar, real people strutted down the runway in Oliver’s über-sexy bondage-inspired collection.
6. Marc Jacobs
Always politically — and fashionably — forward-thinking, Marc Jacobs used trans models like Dara in the past. She’s back again this season, having fiercely walked alongside stars like Kendall Jenner in Jacobs’ eccentric Spring/Summer 2018 show. Jacobs also hired Teddy Quinlivan, who recently came out as trans, and Casil McArthur, an androgynous trans male model, as part of his glam squad.