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First transgender designer shows at New York Fashion Week

Transgender designer Pierre Davis says she hopes her brand will inspire people to think about "humanity," not just commerce or aesthetics
Transgender designer Pierre Davis says she hopes her brand will inspire people to think about "humanity," not just commerce or aesthetics AFP
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New York (AFP)

Los Angeles designer Pierre Davis made her debut in New York this week, becoming the first openly transgender creator to present a collection at Fashion Week, further shaking up an event that had already featured trans models.

The powerful Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), which says it represents more than 500 creators and has made diversity its battle cry, announced last month that Davis's No Sesso brand would be "making NYFW history" at Monday's event, which opened with a parade of whimsical garments.

Fashion Week began with a focus on men and will turn to women's wear on Thursday.

Davis, a trans woman born with the attributes of a man, told CFDA that she hopes the brand "will inspire people to be more community-minded and to realize not everything is just about aesthetics or commerce. It's also about humanity."

She added it is important "that people of all intersectional identities are given a fighting chance regardless of their identity. The playing field isn't level in the world, and it is even more difficult in fashion."

While she embraces the trans label, Davis doesn't want it to be a gimmick, telling AFP it's important for people to see the creations and for them to be recognized.

"I just want to show the work," she said of the "agender" No Sesso brand, launched in 2015 and -- according to CFDA -- whose fans includes R&B artists Kelela and Erykah Badu.

"I am just humble and happy that I got to show at Fashion Week," Davis said.

To exhibit her Chapter 2 collection -- she calls them "chapters" rather than seasons -- Davis came up with the idea of a large locker room where the classical attributes of the two sexes would mix.

Plain black vests became skirts, cocktail dresses were transformed, and all was worn with self-assurance by the models who paraded -- male and female, tall and thin, as well as large-sized.

This wardrobe also mixed the formalism of work attire with sports wear, leading to a jogging jacket with epaulettes, for example.

The growing trans presence at Fashion Week comes alongside a movement that started in 2017 to recognize alternate body types beyond the traditional razor-thin model.

"The show is inspired by business wear and evoking the spirit of the Glamazon regardless of gender," Davis told CFDA.

It's about making things happen even "when there seems to be no way."

For several years, trans models have regularly appeared at New York Fashion Week, and in September 2017 Calvin Klein featured a 16-year-old trans model.

Last September Marco Marco, another Los Angeles designer, went further with a podium exclusively showing trans models.

Now, with her first New York show, Davis says everybody "can see No Sesso and the world we're creating."

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