SICKENING, as the quirky adjective from the drag community, means fierce beyond fierce. So when the supermodels were out of town most nights of the recent Manila Fashion Festival (MFF): The Next, the ones that slayed the runways were transwomen. They served high-octane glamour, sickening-style.
The world is really becoming a small village that is learning to accept transgender people. Like any other person, the trans gender population is just as fashionable, more often, even more fashionable than the everyday Joe. It is a viable market, and I’m glad we can give them a voice, a very fashionable voice, said Jackie Aquino, who directed all the shows of the MFF, produced and staged by Art Personas at The Marquee in Edsa Shangri-La Manila.
The presence of trans models at MFF is local fashion’s solidarity with a worldwide movement that celebrates diversity and inclusiveness. The Oscars honored the first LGBT film, Moonlight. The groundbreaking RuPaul’s Drag Race will start its ninth season. Disney, fresh from its gay scene in Beauty and the Beast, is looking for a drag performer to play Ursula in The Little Mermaid (Latrice Royale!).
Trans models, such as Geena Rocero, Isis King, Hari Nef, Ines Rau, Andreja Pejic, Lea T and Carmen Carrera, have thriving careers. But one proud moment for the trans community was when Valentina Sampaio, already a sought-after model in Brazil, graced the cover of Vogue Paris this March.
We are living in a world at the moment, what is happening right now, we are stepping back, French editor Emmanuelle Alt said in vogue.com, of making a stand in the newsstand.
Instead of being in a constant evolution, which is what should happen, human rights…they’re not going in a good direction. This cover is about the importance of those rights, and that we still need to make progress on an awful lot of stuff.
Patriarchy still rules the Philippines, macho posturing and all, with a president giving conflicting pronouncements on gender-equality issues. But the struggle continues, especially in saving the lives of troubled LGBT youth.
It’s about time to have the courage to stand tall and prove to society, that as long you are confident with who you really are, you can do the things you want, and also it’s a bonus to have the chance to promote gender equality, at the same time, said Leu Mil Mayagma, who walked for Pablo Cabahug’s Dark Romanticism collection.
On Day One of the MFF, three trans designers showcased their collections: Jaz Cerezo’s Psyche, Cheetah Rivera’s Mu Ai and Veejay Floresca’s Enchanted. As brave as they are beautiful, these designers shared their personal styles, as well as their political stand, by including stunning trans models in their presentations. It’s a difficult time for everyone. It just happened the LGBT community in most places still don’t get the equality we deserve. Here, I’m given the authority to give trans models, our sisters, the opportunity they yearn for. Women don’t compete with each other, we build together, Cerezo said.
Rivera averred, It means every LGBT person can do whatever they want to achieve. Dreaming is limitless, and it’s for everyone. I don’t know if I should consider them trans models, all I see on the runway is a beautiful model who knows how to walk, and who is very professional to work with.
Transmodels are part of fashion. For me, the MFF appreciates beauty in different forms. It’s important because it proves that fashion has no gender and we can be who we are, especially in the world of fashion, Floresca affirmed. The MFF is a good platform for LGBT individuals to display our talents and contributions to the world. Beauty and fashion are things we are good at. At fashion shows, you see trends—what’s new and what’s in. And we owe most of them to the creative minds of people from the LGBT community, said Trixie Maristela, the Miss International Queen 2015, who walked for Floresca.
As a transwoman, it is very important for me to be part of it and walk the runway, because it reflects how our fashion community is changing and updating its book in terms of gender inclusivity, Maristela mused. And, of course, I’m happy to meet designers who are not afraid to redefine beauty, glamour and fashion by letting trans individuals wear their creations.