It was another groundbreaking moment for New York Fashion Week, stretching the scope of its models and clothing lines to be more inclusive than ever.
The formerly monolithic world of runway fashions that stipulated that girls must be feminine and super-skinny and guys must be masculine and, well, masculine, are starting to come to an end. Such was evident on the runways at New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2017. Sure, most of the girls were rail-skinny and adorned with feminine flair while the majority of men were moving their muscles in masculine wear, but there were a substantial number of outliers, both in terms of the models who walked and the designs they wore. In fact, it was much more diverse than this year’s shows in Paris, Milan or London, with more than 30 percent of the models non-white.
This also manifested in some big names embracing “genderless”—or is it “all-gender”?—design, among them Marc Jacobs, Helmut Lang, Calvin Klein and Christian Siriano, to name a few. But that wasn’t all. The runways were also embracing many women and men, meaning the transgendered walking in file with their cisgendered, non-professional and even with-baby counterparts. Yes, that’s right: Maia Ruth Lee tapped her way, along with her pregnant—and exposed–belly, down the runway for Eckhaus Latta.
In terms of trans models, it’s estimated that about a dozen walked this year, double the number that appeared last year.
Perhaps no designer embraced trans models as early and often as Jacobs, having featured trans model Dara in his shows before and bringing her back again this year. In addition, Jacobs this year featured Teddy Quinlivan, who recently came out as trans, as well as androgynous trans male model Casil McArthur.
Shayne Oliver made his debut as head of Helmut Lang, and his runway offerings included a number of once-non-traditional participants, from a gay film actor to “civilian” models. He also featured Sophia Lamar, a trans model and New York nightlife celebrity.
There was also Andreja Pejic, who is mentioned almost as an afterthought but should be celebrated even more, as she not only blazed the way for all of this nearly a decade ago but is a vision of glamour and elegance. Her turn on the runway for Prabal Gurung underscored that more strongly than ever.
Raf Simons also contributed to the trans parade as part of his Calvin Klein runway show, debuting 16-year-old trans model Ariel Nicholson Murtagh, who had just signed her first modeling agency contract.
Never to be outdone on issues of inclusivity in his shows, Christian Siriano offered up Wilhelmina Models board member and trans beauty Avie Acosta with a coterie of male models in a kind of genderless-style show. Speaking of “gender-neutralism,” PH5, the Chinese label making its second appearance at NYFW, showcased its new collection, complete with several pieces that were decidedly androgynous.
Finally, Chromat made its typical splash with five trans models at the unveiling of its spring/summer 2018 line. Thanks to designer Becca McCharen-Tran, who has always been big on shaking things up with non-traditional female models of all shapes, sizes and gender identities, Chromat sent out such trans beauties as Geena Rocero, Leyana Bloom, Carmen Carrera, Maya Mones and Jahmal Golden.