• Yesterday Serbian model Andreja Pejic was revealed as the first transgender model to appear in Vogue magazine 
  • This is the latest step in changes to how the industry represents gender 
  • From drag artists on the runway to women who work exclusively as ‘male models’ we explore the changing landscape of gender in fashion 

Martha Cliff for MailOnline

Yesterday was a ground-breaking day for the fashion industry as style bible Vogue was revealed to have featured its first ever transgender model.

In an interview which will appear in the US edition of the magazine, Serbian beauty Andreja Pejic, reveals how she was told she’d no longer seem ‘special’ or ‘interesting’ once she completed her transition into a woman.

The choice to feature Andreja is seen a turning point for the magazine and suggests that attitudes to diversity and gender are changing in high fashion.

Andreja Pejic is a blonde bombshell on the catwalk
Andreja Pejic poses for the camera as a female model

Andreja Pejic began her fashion career as a male model but after transitioning to female, she’s now taking the world of female design by storm 

From a bearded drag queen appearing on the runway of Paris fashion week to transgender model Jenna Talackova taking to the stage of Miss Universe, we look at the inspirational figures changing the face of fashion.

ANDREJA PEJIC  

Andreja Pejic, 23, was born as a boy called Andrej in Bosnia and Herzegovina but had to flee to Serbia during the Bosnian War.

She and her brother Igor, their mother and grandmother then sheltered in a refugee camp near Belgrade and the family later emigrated to Melbourne, Australia.

While still a schoolboy, Andreja was discovered by a modelling scout as he worked behind the counter in McDonald’s.

The agency initially wanted him to bulk up and take on work as an underwear model, but eventually agreed on a different direction. 

Andreja announced yesterday that she would appear in the May edition of Vogue US
She is pictured here making her debut at London Fashion Week

Andreja announced yesterday that she would appear in the May edition of Vogue US but her modelling career extends far beyond that. She is pictured here making her debut at London Fashion Week 

As a male model, Andreja was the face of an ad campaign in 2011 for Marc Jacobs and walked the catwalk for him, Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier.

In early 2014, Andreja underwent gender reassignment surgery to fully become a woman.

In her latest interview with Vogue Andreja revealed that were people who warned her not to transition, explaining: ‘There was definitely a lot of, ‘Oh, you’re going to lose what’s special about you. You’re not going to be interesting any more. There are loads of pretty girls out there.”  

One agent even told her that ‘it’s better to be androgynous than a tranny’, but Andreja refused to fall prey to those opinions.

‘It is about showing that this is not just a gimmick,’ she said of being transgender.

Andreja also revealed during the interview that she has been signed as the newest face for beauty brand Make Up For Ever, and is thought to be the first ever transgender model to land a major cosmetics campaign.    

She took the runway for the first time as a woman during designer Giles Deacon’s autumn/winter 2015 show at London Fashion Week in February. 

And her new cosmetics campaign is just the latest means of her continuing to break boundaries – something which is already being echoed throughout the fashion industry by many other models. 

Laverne Cox is most famous for her role in Orange is the New Black but her recent naked shoot has demonstrated progress in the industry

Laverne Cox is most famous for her role in Orange is the New Black but her recent naked shoot has demonstrated progress in the industry

LAVERNE COX  

Laverne’s breakthrough role as Sophia Burset in Orange Is The New Black saw her become the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in the acting category.

But Laverne has not just made a name for herself in television. The 30-year-old actress has also starred in several high fashion editorials. 

Laverne also appeared on the cover of Candy magazine for their fifth anniversary 

Laverne also appeared on the cover of Candy magazine for their fifth anniversary 

In December last year Laverne joined other transgender role models on the cover of fashion magazine Candy for its fifth anniversary issue.

The star wore a long tan dress with a high thigh slit as she was surrounded in the fold-out cover by other transgender pioneers Janet Mock, Carmen Carrera and Geena Rocero. 

She then became the first openly transgender person to appear on the cover of Time magazine in June.

Laverne opened up to Time Magazine to talk about growing up in Mobile, Alabama, and first realising when she was a woman trapped in a man’s body.

‘My third grade teacher called my mom and said “Your son is going to end up in New Orleans wearing a dress.”

She added: ‘Up until that point I just thought that I was a girl and that there was no difference between girls and boys. I think in my imagination I thought that I would hit puberty and I would start turning into a girl.’

Most recently Laverne was pictured in a revolutionary shoot for Allure magazine in which she posed nude in a sophisticated black and white shoot.

Laverne told the magazine how significant the shoot was: ‘I’m a black transgender woman. I felt this could be really powerful for the communities that I represent.

‘Seeing a black transgender woman embracing and loving everything about her body might be inspiring for some folks. There’s a beauty in the things we think are imperfect. It sounds very cliché, but it’s true.’

CONCHITA WURST 

The drag artist Conchita Wurst is no stranger to the fashion industry.

The 2014  Eurovision winner proved that singing was not her only talent when she took to the catwalk at the Paris Haute Couture AW14 shows. 

Conchita made her catwalk debut at the Jean Paul Gaultier haute couture show in July 2014 

Conchita made her catwalk debut at the Jean Paul Gaultier haute couture show in July 2014 

Conchita and Gaultier are now great friends and she is due to appear in another of his shows at the Life Ball

Conchita and Gaultier are now great friends and she is due to appear in another of his shows at the Life Ball

Conchita made her catwalk debut at Jean Paul Gaultier show in July, and now the 25-year-old is branching out with a racy editorial shoot.

In August last year Conchita starred in her first editorial photoshoot when she was pictured in the Fall issue of CR Fashion Book.

Conchita appeared in lace lingerie accompanied by pregnant model Ashleigh Good and legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld.  

In the interview Conchita (who goes by the name Tom Neuwirth when not in drag) opened up about her childhood and how she struggled to get where she is today. 

She said: ‘Conchita is the story of my life. I grew up in a small Austrian village, a quite conservative one, and I was the weird little boy always dressing as a girl.’

Most recently Conchita was transformed into Gustav Klimt’s Golden Adele for the Life Ball 2015 poster.

The poster promotes the dazzling Life Ball event, where Conchita will perform, as well as walk in a fashion show staged by Jean Paul Gaultier.

WILLAM BELLI, COURTNEY ACT AND ALASKA  

The three most infamous contestants of RuPaul’s Drag Race made names for themselves because of their big hair, catchy catchphrases and bad behaviour.

And although none of them won the contest they have all taken a dip into the fashion pool.

RuPaul's Drag Race contestants Alaska (left) Courtney Act (centre) and Willam Belli (right) appeared in an American Apparel campaign

RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants Alaska (left) Courtney Act (centre) and Willam Belli (right) appeared in an American Apparel campaign

In October the three drag queens appeared in an American Apparel campaign as brand ambassadors, models and muses and all three of them appear on their very own T-shirt.

The exclusive T-shirts came as a follow-up to the brand’s partnership with artist Petra Collins for the ‘Support Artists, Support Ethical Manufacturing’ campaign, for which Collins’ artwork was printed on the tops.

At the time Willam told the Huffington Post that her role as a campaign girl for American Apparel was a dream come true. 

Each of the drag artist was featured on their own t-shirt
The t-shirts were sold as part of the brand's 'Support Artists, Support Ethical Manufacturing' campaign

Each of the drag artist was featured on their own t-shirt as part of the brand’s ‘Support Artists, Support Ethical Manufacturing’ campaign

‘Every little boy dreams of being on a baseball card’ adding that he was proud to work with a company so keen to support drag.

‘American Apparel has continually supported artists and I love that we can bring attention from our campaign to some of our favorite causes ourselves and the ethical manufacturing of these super cool T-shirts.’

Willam has also enjoyed several editorial shoots including one in Frontier magazine. She is a regular on the catwalk having walked for Marco Marco in LA Fashion Week joined by her fellow drag artist Courtney Act.

LEA T  

Despite being aware that she was different from other children, Brazilian Lea, 33, refused to give any thought to the idea of changing her sex in her late teens and early 20s.

It was only when she became friends with the now-Givenchy head designer Riccardo Tisci while he was studying at St Central St Martins that Lea began to give any thought to presenting herself as another gender.

Brazilian Lea T made modelling history when she became the first transgender model to front a global cosmetics brand when she starred in the Redken's Chromatics campaign

Brazilian Lea T made modelling history when she became the first transgender model to front a global cosmetics brand when she starred in the Redken’s Chromatics campaign

Lea featured on a 2011 cover of LOVE magazine where she was pictured kissing Kate Moss

Lea featured on a 2011 cover of LOVE magazine where she was pictured kissing Kate Moss

She later recalled in an interview with French Vogue: ‘One night he encouraged me to wear pumps to a party.

‘We went shopping for ‘drag queen’ shoes and we bleached my eyebrows. It was a revelation.’

Lea then went on to become Riccardo’s muse.

In 2008, Lea started hormone replacement therapy and in 2012 underwent full gender reassignment surgery in Thailand.

She has had several high-profile modelling jobs, including a 2011 cover of LOVE magazine where she was pictured kissing Kate Moss. 

Her most recent success saw her make modelling history when she became the first transgender model to front a global cosmetics brand when she starred in the  American haircare giant Redken’s Chromatics campaign.  

JENNA TALACKOVA 

Jenna, from Canada, made headlines in 2012 when she became the first transgender contestant in the Miss Universe contest.  

Jenna, who had sexual reassignment surgery at the age of 19, sparked a heated gender debate in March after she was thrown out of the competition.

Jenna Talackova made headlines in 2012 when she became the first transgender woman in Miss Universe

Jenna Talackova made headlines in 2012 when she became the first transgender woman in Miss Universe

Officials banned Jenna from the competition for being born male before the Trump Organization changed its policy, saying that pageant rules had 'been modernized to ensure this type of issue does not occur again'

Officials banned Jenna from the competition for being born male before the Trump Organization changed its policy, saying that pageant rules had ‘been modernized to ensure this type of issue does not occur again’

She had already reached the finals of the Miss Vancouver pageant before officials stepped in and banned her from the competition for being born male after it was claimed she lied on her application about her natural-born gender.

The only requirement stated on the Miss Universe Canada website is that to enter, women must be a Canadian citizen and between the ages of 18 and 27.

The application form made no mention of rules regarding sexual reassignment surgery. Her case was taken on by celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred who is famous for representing clients including a string of Tiger Woods’ ex-lovers and Nicole Brown Simpson’s family during the O.J. Simpson trial.

Soon after the Trump Organization changed its policy, saying that pageant rules had ‘been modernized to ensure this type of issue does not occur again’.

She also has a reality show on E! that charts her forays into the modelling world called Brave New Girls.

ISIS KING

Isis worked as a catwalk model alongside studying for a degree at the Art Institute Of Philadelphia.

Isis King appeared on America's Next Top Model
She appeared in an American Apparel campaign

Isis King appeared on America’s Next Top Model and has since starred in an American Apparel campaign

She later became the first transgender contestant on America’s Next Top Model and appeared on both the 11th and the 17th series of the programme.

Isis was the first transgender model for clothing company American Apparel and has appeared in several national publications including Seventeen and US Weekly.

In her American Apparel campaign she appeared in a series of eye-catching shots that not only promote the brand’s clothing but endorsed June’s gay pride month.

As a show of support for the LGBT community, the stick thin model, who started life ‘in the wrong body’ wears a series of screen printed tees with pro-gay slogans such as ‘legalize gay’. 

AYDIAN DOWLING 

Aydian Ethan Dowling is poised to grace the cover of Men’s Health Magazine.

Aydian, 27, who is a transgender male, has around 40,000 votes to win the publication’s annual Ultimate Guy Search – 30,000 more than his closest competitor. 

Aydian Dowling is poised to grace the cover of Men's Health Magazine 

Aydian Dowling is poised to grace the cover of Men’s Health Magazine 

The competition aims to find a man ‘who possesses all of the qualities that make up today’s well-rounded, active, health-conscious and thoughtful guy’.  

The winner appears on the cover of Men’s Health Magazine and if he wins Aydian will be the first transgender male to grace the cover. 

With a fan base of thousands on Facebook, Aydian is touted as a role model for transgender, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual men in showing that he has struggled, achieved, and helped others.

Aydian, who started taking ‘T’ (testosterone medication) in 2009, lives in Eugene, Oregon, with his wife of three years Jenilee. 

Aydian is competing in the Utimate Guy Search
If he wins he will be the first transgender male to grace the cover of Men's Health Magazine

Aydian is competing in the Utimate Guy Search and if he wins he will be the first transgender male to grace the cover of Men’s Health Magazine 

His contestant application reads: ‘The battle that can come with the mirror can be completely dark and engulfing.

‘As a transgender male, having a healthy body and mind is my ultimate goal to find peace within my soul. 

‘Although I may always have some kind of battle with my body, I continue to work every day for a happy peace within.’

Aydian currently features on the cover of FTM magazine for their April issue. In the issue Aydian worked with Jason Robert Ballard, publisher of transgender-focused magazine FTM, to recreate Adam Levine’s iconic naked photo. 

Levine’s picture was originally taken by Ben Riggot and published by Cosmopolitan in the UK to raise awareness of testicular and prostate cancer. His genitals were covered by the hands of his girlfriend at the time Anne Vyalitsyna. 

Dowling’s recreation comes with the quote: ‘Some areas of my body used to remind me of everything I’m not, now they represent everything I am.’  

CASEY LEGLER 

French-born Casey Legler is a female artist who in 2012, became the first woman to model menswear exclusively. 

Casey Legler is a female who works exclusively as a male model
Casey in a campaign for All Saints

Casey Legler is a female who works exclusively as a male model she has featured in several editorials

Casey, 37, who lives in New York City, was signed to the men’s division at the prestigious Ford modelling agency and has appeared in several editorial shoots for both campaigns and magazines.

She described to Out magazine the discrimination she had received growing up as a lesbian and says that she hopes to inspire bravery in others.

She said: ‘If the image of me out there in the world makes it easier for one more kid to think that there’s some f****** place for them, then that’s the business I’m into.’ 

 

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