Transgender models storm fashion world

Damian picBy Damian Grabiec

Transgender people are enjoying increased visibility on the catwalk as designers and photographers respond to a growing demand for gender-bending models who challenge the old distinctions between male and female.

“Over the last decade or so I have most definitely noticed an increase in interest in transgender models in fashion photography” says PR and event management professional and transgender model Amanda Dee. “About 15 years ago we were looked upon as some freaks of nature, but today the photographers are more ready to accept us.”

Only last month, bearded transgender model and Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst shocked the fashion world by modelling women’s lingerie alongside a pregnant model in a series of shots taken by top photographer and designer Karl Lagerfeld.

Fashion Journalism

Conchita Wurst poses for top fashion photographer Karl Lagerfeld

And just this week, transgender model Andreja Pejic launched a kickstarter campaign to fund a film about her life. Pejic caused a sensation last year when, still living as a man, she became the first male model to appear on the cover of Elle magazine. She previously shook up the Dutch fashion world when she modelled a push-up bra in a poster advert for fashion store Hema.

Transgender model Andreja Pejic

Transgender model Andreja Pejic

According to Trans Media Watch chair Jennie Kermode, transgender models are appealing to an increasingly wide and mainstream audience.

“A few years ago, trans models were generally spoken of with derision, or people expressed shock that they could look attractive,” she says. “Now we find that heterosexual men are increasingly willing to be open about being attracted to trans women.”

The high visibility of some of these increasingly daring and successful models is having an impact beyond the fashion world.

“There is still some loud hostility toward obviously ambiguous models like Conchita Wurst but even in that case we see a lot of women describe them as beautiful, and some men adding their voices to this,” adds Kermode. “This is really helping to create a space for gender variant people to live openly within society. In addition, it’s raising awareness of the fact that not everybody wants to live in a clearly defined male or female role.”

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Inside Corinna Girnyte’s Wardrobe

Naomi Isted

Naomi Isted

Style and showbiz presenter Naomi Isted talks to stylist to the stars Corinna Girnyte about her style inspiration and the statement pieces she just can’t live without.




How would you summarise your style in four words? 

Edgy, bohemian, comfortable and classic.

Which piece of clothing couldn’t you live without?

My skater style dresses because they are so comfy and when I’m running around all day I need to be comfortable. I love how you can dress them up or down which makes them great for both day and night.

Do you think you follow trends? 

I try to because that’s what I do for a living and I love fashion. I look to the high street, fashion blogs, and internet as a whole for inspiration. I love style blogs because they’re global and you get to filter through trends that you won’t necessarily see on the high street.

Where do you like to shop?

The key high street stores for me personally are Topshop, River Island and Miss Selfridges but I’m addicted to Asos.

How do you tend to shop online or in the stores?

I love shopping in store but shopping online is so much easier especially when I’m working with a mood board and styling a job. I do both but probably spend more time online.

Which outfit in your wardrobe makes you feel confident?

Because I’m running around styling shoots and my clients wardrobes, I tend to dress low key by day. So for me wearing a glamorous evening gown and getting fully glammed up with heels makes me feel amazing.

Which season do you feel more comfortable? 

I’m an autumn winter kind of girl. My favourite outfit is a skater dress, tights, ankle boots and leather jacket.

Who’s your favourite celebrity client and why? 

Oh god, I love all my clients so that’s a hard question but I am just a little obsessed in my gorgeous lady Vanessa Hudgens. I think she manages to get it right every time, she looks on trend when she’s casual but stylish and sophisticated when on the Red Carpet.

Terry O’Neill – one of the 20th century’s most illustrious image makers

Saskia Rowlands

Saskia Rowlands

By Saskia Rowlands

If there is anybody who has met everybody, it’s Terry O’Neill. For fifty years, O’Neill has shot the famous. From Raquel Walsh to Kate Moss, from Richard Burton to Mick Jagger.

O’Neill’s ethos is a strong one. For such an acclaimed figure it is a very surprising one. Since the 60′s, he has dismissed writing an autobiography- he has seen an awful lot of people at their best and worst- but the idea of making money by trading other’s secrets disgusts him. O’Neill is definitely not in the business of shattering egos and, unlike most portrait photographers, never sets out to demean his subjects. “What’s the point?” he has always said, “who wouldn’t want to take a great picture of Frank Sinatra?” A lot of photographers have an ulterior motive, but Terry O’Neill certainly does not.


O’Neill has a strong, cockney accent. Combined with his dazzling blue eyes, throngs of women have always been in his following. When he first visited the playboy mansion in Chicago to photograph Hugh Hefner, the live-in bunnies thought he was nothing but the living embodiment of Caine’s blue-collar rouge. It was the accent that did it. A voice the girls would knock on his door at night just to hear, proceed to giggle, and then run away.

Unlikely as it may sound, O’Neill’s glamorous career began in Heathrow airport. At this time, he so happened to photograph Rab Butler, then, Britain’s Home Secretary, by mistake, in the waiting area. This ‘fluke’ capture led O’Neill to get a job in Fleet Street, at the Daily Sketch. His first proper job was photographing Lawrence Olivier.

Among O’Neill’s most applauded shots are those taken of Sir Elton John; like Frank Sinatra, Elton John showed a level of trust towards O’Neill that few photographers, even of O’Neill’s standard, experience. Through Elton John, Terry O’Neill’s lens was allowed an access-all-areas pass to the life and times of some of rock ‘n’ rolls most prestigious names.

An O’Neill photograph, to many, may seem casual. Instead of capturing what might be there, he captures what is. What you see is definitely what you get. Although he could be seen as a lover of colour, O’Neill’s heart still lies with black and white photography; he has always said that “Black and White is more journalistic”. O’Neill’s style is archetypal to himself- very real- he is rarely, if ever, drawn to dark interpretations of his subjects’ motives. His forte is not one of discontent but is one of satisfaction, making the fortunes of the famous look deserving.

Terry O’Neill set out in life at the humble age of 25 as a jazz drummer doing the London club circuit. Through aspiration O’Neill has become one of the most highly acclaimed photographers of our time, capturing the iconic, candid and unguarded. He is a real person, shooting unreal lives, which is why he stands firmly apart from other portrait photographers. Sir Michael Caine once said that “Terry O’Neill captures something special”- Sir Michael Caine is so incredibly true.

Joel Sernagiotto – for this fashionista, less is more

By Isobel Gladman


Joel Sernagiotto is sitting in the back yard of the house he’s recently moved into in Stoke Newington. The sun is shining as we perch on slightly grimy plastic garden furniture and I try to put him at ease. My task is made more difficult by the presence of his long-time friend and flat-mate Mickey cracking a few jokes about Joel being a fashion diva. I suspect that actually he’s rather interested in what I’m going to ask. If the average girl in her twenties has read countless articles on celebrity style, the average twenty-something boy might only have a foetus-like concept of what his personal style might be. Joel Sernagiotto certainly proves me wrong.

The first thing that you notice about Sernagiotto is his eye for colour. He has already thought up a colour scheme for decorating his room, having only moved in less than forty-eight hours before, and has managed to source some chic Farrow & Ball paint tins in complementary shades of white, green and grey. Today he’s wearing a faded navy vintage Ralph Lauren polo-shirt that contrasts well with his tawny beard and highlights the fact that his eyes are startlingly blue.

Sernagiotto’s taste for simple, basic colours is reflected in his style philosophy- the simpler the better. “Being overdressed is definitely worse [than being underdressed]. There’s nothing worse than when someone’s trying to do too many things.” He has veered in almost every life direction possible- from art college to architect to record label lackey to cocktail bar manager- which makes his words even more telling as he speaks from experience. Now he’s grown out of that silly-young need to prove himself inherent in all teenagers, he’s much more confident in his choices. Sernagiotto’s style has changed drastically since he was a teenager – “Ten years ago I used to wear maharishis, and Nike Riffs with a Roberto Cavalli shirt with beads on,” he laughs, shaking his head. “When I was studying fashion I followed the trends, but now I’m out of it, I’ve started to enjoy clothes more.”

Indeed it seems his family were the ones who got him interested in fashion in the first place – “Mum was a hairdresser, and so, super-fashionable – she decked me out appropriately.” One of his favourite anecdotes is when he was sent to play football as a boy in grey knee-length shorts and Doc Martens: “You can’t kick a football in Doc Martens! I could barely lift my feet!” His godfather was a sharp-dressing hairdresser as well so he received hand-me-down clothes of brands like Helmut Lang and Alexander McQueen. Sernagiotto reminisces about a suit he had when he was a teen, and here Mickey interjects: “A Kenzo suit at fifteen years old? If ever there was a sign of being groomed for luxury…”

Sernagiotto seems unusually confident for a boy in his mid-twenties – he knows what he likes and displays none of the oh-so-common self-deprecation that other boys of his age and means do. The best compliment he has ever received on his style is when he was scouted for T4’s style show Frock Me; “I wore a camel quilted suit jacket from Aquascutum, brown Sebago Docksides and – I’d say burnt terracotta, some might say salmon – chinos.” He clearly has a handle on the brands he admires and does not apologise for his love of the good things in life- refreshing in an age when public-schooled TV presenters adopt fake working-class accents. Sernagiotto admires the kind of simplicity in design whose only pretension is in being consciously unpretentious, name-checking Helmut Lang and Yohji Yamamoto as two of his favourite labels – fashion houses that are famed for their unadorned, raw designs.

Don’t think for one minute that his timeless and classic style is innate  – even the über-tasteful sometimes put a foot wrong on the road to sartorial elegance. Sernagiotto regrets arriving at art college “wearing G-Star two-tone jeans, a tie as a belt and a John Smedley grey tank top. I still remember that day because I can remember being at college and thinking ‘I look like a total prick’.”

When asked to describe his style in five words, he and Mickey both look at each other in confusion and laugh. “Sometimes, I just don’t know!” he counts on his fingers, “There, that’s five words!” I suspect he’s playing a game with me and that he doesn’t want to give too much away. Yet Joel has the kind of face that looks best tilted back, chin up, reclining in a chair – the sort of head tilt that says “I’m in my element” and invites you to pull up a chair and experience the Sernagiotto way of life.