Culture Wars/Current Controversies

On Brazilian Runways, Transgender Models Are The Norm
The Telegraph

transgender model

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With London’s summer of sport over, the focus moves to Brazil. The country is hosting the World Cup in 2014, and the Olympics come 2016, and fashion, never to be outdone, is ready to make its own handover.

On course to become the fifth largest economy by 2025, Brazil has the resources to become the next fashion capital, and the international industry is beginning to take notice. Lucas Nascimento, Pedro Lourenço and jeweller Fernando Jorge are Brazilian buzz names, and London’s The Shop at Bluebird hosts pop-up Brazil Rising from this Friday to showcase new talent.

Fashion weeks in São Paolo and Rio – previously dismissed as swimwear showcases – are firmly on the schedule of international buyers and press.

What they find, however, is still a little different from the big four of New York, London, Milan and Paris. A film made by Vice, as part of its Fashion Week Internationale series, goes behind the scenes of the hype. Host Charlet Duboc finds transgender models as a matter of course, tensions around race and a disconnect between the lean catwalk silhouette and the curvy body type fetishised in the baile funk scene.

The tolerance for transgender women in fashion is particularly striking – Duboc points to Lea T as an example of a Brazilian transgender model who has gone overground, kissing Kate Moss on the cover of LOVE last year, and becoming a muse for Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci. “I’m not sure if it could get any bigger though,” she says. This is especially true with Rio making a bid to become the fifth fashion city. “Out of all the fashion weeks we have covered, Rio is one of the most slick,” says Duboc. “They want to sell clothes.” In a bid to fit into a global idea of beauty, admirable points of difference such as the acceptance of transgender models may get lost in translation.

Watch the Vice documentary Rio Fashion Week in full

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