The spring catalogue and magazine campaign for Barneys New York has been praised for its inclusion of 17 transgender models.
Featuring friends, family and pets, the models were shot by Bruce Weber, and are accompanied with excerpts from interviews by Vanity Fair contributing editor Patricia Bosworth.
The models’ ages range from 17 to “early 30s”, are from various ethnic backgrounds and different stages on the transgender spectrum. They are pictured wearing clothes by designers such as Balenciaga, Lanvin and Manolo Blahnik.
While some work as professional models, such as Arin Andrews and Katie Hill, and have undergone gender reassignment, others featured in the campaign do not or have not.
Ryley Pogensky, a party promoter who identifies as gender queer, said: “What is between my legs is not thoroughly who I am. If gender is black and white, I’m gray.”
The campaign was thought up by Dennis Freedman, who heads up Barneys ad campaigns, and was previously the creative director of W magazine. He said the campaign was important, noting that LGB people have been more quickly accepted into the mainstream than trans people.
“I was exquisitely aware that in the last decade, the LGB communities have made extraordinary advances, and the transgender community has not shared in that progress,” Freedman said.
The decision was hailed as “big news” by ‘Candy’ publisher Luis Venegas, who noted that the campaign was devoted to models and non-models alike, but entirely to transgender people.
On the decision to hire Weber to photograph the Barneys shoots, he said: “He makes things look healthy and beautiful. There’s no darkness in his images. Everything is a safe place where nothing goes wrong.”
The fact that Weber has in the past worked with Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch, sends a powerful message, Venegas said.