“Such extraordinary progress has been made in the last few years for the lesbian, gay and bisexual community, but it’s striking how the transgender community has been left behind. It’s disturbing and upsetting to see that,” Dennis Freedman, creative director of Barneys, told WWD of the headline-making department store’s spring advertising campaign. Eschewing Barneys usual practice of presenting its campaigns in a mailer, this one comes in a 32-plate portfolio — and with 17 transgender men and women as models.
The campaign, called ‘Brothers, Sisters, Sons and Daughters’, is just as much about the models’ stories as it is about their physical beauty (two of the youngest, Arin Andrews (17) and Katie Hill (19) wouldn’t otherwise make you look twice with their long limbs and perfect teenage skin). The portfolio also features excerpts from interviews with Vanity Fair contributing editor Patricia Bosworth, as well as photographs of the subjects, many taken with family members, pets and peers. There will also be several short films and more in-depth stories on Barneys’ website.
The campaign was photographed by influential LGBT advocate Bruce Weber, who told WWD, “I hope that my photographs and films of these 17 new friends, who are transgender men and women, convey the respect I have for them and how I stand in awe of their courage to face the world.”
It’s been done before, but rarely with this level of integrity — or this much detail. The models hit a range of rungs on the transgender ladder: Valentijn de Hingh, a 23-year-old transgender woman from Amsterdam, has already undergone gender reassignment surgery, while party promoter Ryley Pogensky still has the reproductive organs he was born with. Pogensky identifies as “gender queer”.
It’s about time Barneys made headlines for happier reasons.