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18 August 2011, 12:00 pm 6 Comments

Fashion: New York Mag Profile of Andrej Pejic – He’s only a model, after all.

This post was submitted by Topher Burns

courtesy wikimedia commons

New York Magazine runs some of the very best personality profiles I’ve ever read. From celebs to politicians, I think they do a great job of deftly treading the thin line between snark and sycophant. That’s why I was so terribly disappointed after reading this most recent issue’s profile of Andrej Pejic. Blech.

Frankly I found the article boring. Which sucks, because I’m absolutely fascinated by the subject of androgyny in male fashion (so fascinated in fact, that I wrote an article about it earlier this year). Alex Morris, the profile’s author, takes what I find to be one of the most riveting pop/fashion stories of our time, stands it up in front of himself, hands it a glass of champagne and says “cheers darling, let’s talk about something else.”

Andrej Pejic has made a huge splash in the fashion world in the past year by looking equally stunning modeling in men’s and women’s clothes. His success is not the daring “go on, say something” shock value of many drag personas, but instead based on the fact that he’s just an incredible model who’s indistinguishable in gender from his female colleagues when on the runway. He’s also quite private about his personal life, which is why the possibilities of this profile were so exciting. Pejic has always refused to get involved in the debate he’s roused about gender, with a basic attitude of “this is me.” Would Morris help us finally break Pejic’s silence and share some deeper thoughts from the model’s unique perspective on one of human history’s most pervasive debates?

The cover title “Wo/Man of the Year” should have given me pause enough to lower my expectations. But I charged ahead, and ran face-first into Morris’ fawning “oh my, but isn’t he coy and SO fab!” prose that seemed to blithely ignore the fundamental reasons why so many of us are enraptured by Andrej. In an industry dominated by absolutes (men’s or women’s, fat or thin, in or out, hot or not) Andrej is the first man to say “both!” Women have been ostensibly empowering themselves over the past few decades by borrowing men’s clothing, but most men would never consider it empowering to wear a skirt or strappy heels. I shudder to quote Madonna, but the intro to her song “What It Feels Like for a Girl” nails it completely – “For a boy to look like a girl is degrading, because you think that being a girl is degrading. But secretly you’d love to know what it feels like, wouldn’t you?”

There’s a lot of cool stuff going on in fashion right now in which boys are experimenting with looking a little bit more like girls, and Andrej Pejic falls at the head of this movement. But instead Morris’ profile of Pejic for the Fall Fashion edition of New York Magazine spends most of its time relating information about how fabulous and poised Andrej is. We get the same schlock that authors dish up every time they interview a model and want her (usually HER) to seem smart or savvy – calmy hits the red carpet at an exclusive event, loves to party but is really an awkward kid at heart, doesn’t know what would happen without mom around, thinking of pursuing an acting career after modeling.

From a different perspective, though, the major problem with this piece might be also a major cause for celebration. Alex Morris sat down with a man who gets selected over most women as the embodiment of feminine beauty, and instead of coming away with a story about gender identity in America he came away with a story about just another model. This could mean that either Morris is a dangerously fatuous fashion zombie, or an insidious revolutionary hell-bent on total societal equality.

Either way I think the article could have been more interesting.

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  • KJN said:

    I know it goes with TNG’s territory to be consistently negative about the culture around them, but I for one LOVED the New York Magazine article. I think the point of it was to show that for a cutting-edge genderb(l)ending model like Andrej Pejić, he’s actually a smart, level-headed human being. In other words, while his beauty is ethereal, his personality is strong, independent and admirable. I highly recommend reading the article.

  • Mianorra said:

    I agree with KJN completely. Though I do get where you are coming from, I think the article put a new spin on how people perceive a model like Andrej Pejic. I think the point was to show just how intelligent Andrej is, and how different his perspective on his “situation” is from the general public. He is a very unique person, and an amazingly stunning model. I loved the article, and recommend reading it.

  • Stef said:

    “Could Morris help us finally break Pejic’s silence and share some deeper thoughts from the model’s unique perspective on one of human history’s most pervasive debates?”

    REALLY? I thought the debate was ended in the 1970′s with the irrefutable research showing that the difference (physical, emotional, psychological, etc.) within each sex is far greater that the differences between male and female. I agree that the fascination is there, but where’s the debate?

    We don’t need Pejic to speak (it is incredibly disrespectful to assume that pioneers (?) will become society’s educators). Let him live his life. The rest of us should accept that we’ve just been gender f*cked. Get over it.

  • Yves said:

    N.B. Alex Morris is a woman.

  • The New Gay » The New Gay Week in Review: Fudgepackers of the World Unite! Edition said:

    [...] calls out some less than model behavior on the part of New York [...]

  • Bo(no)Bo said:

    Retouched ugly fagot Andrej Pejic :) :
    Androgyny is my style
    The style is the man himself
    By nature through nature retouched
    An toll for the feast of your eyes