Barney’s latest ad campaign features 17 models, and they’re all transgender. Gays and lesbians have appeared in ads for other clothing and retail companies, such as Gap and J.C. Penny, but Barney’s is entering new territory for fashion promotion. Transgendered people have been influential in the art world for decades. But the fashion world hasn’t given them as much attention.
Barney’s is pairing the black and white photographs, which were shot by Bruce Weber, with autobiographies of the models. Maxie Neu described her awakening this way:
I am 20 years old. I grew up in a small town in southern Germany. I knew my entire life I was really a girl, and finally I couldn’t control the impulse to be feminine. I began to transition in my teens; I started wearing dresses. My parents accepted what I was doing but were worried about how it would affect my younger sister—and they were also scared about what the neighbors would say. We lived in a tiny village where people are very conventional.
The company has pledged to donate 10% of all sales on Feb. 11 to two LGBT non-profits, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the LGBT Community Center in New York. The ads are slated to run in publications like Vanity Fair and the New York Times.