fashion and the trans aesthetic
by harinef | part ii: current runway

hari nef
hood by air spring 2015
look 38

maybe i’m fresh for analyzing a photo of myself, but i’m not sure i could talk about shayne oliver or hood by air without addressing my relationship to the house. hood by air spring 2015 was my runway debut.

one night last summer, shayne and i were dancing in the basement of open house, where ladyfag hosts her weekly 11:11 party. it was past 4AM. the details are hazy. “hey girl,” said shayne, “i’ve got an idea.” i ask him what. “i want you in the show,” he replies, “i wanna show them that the trans girls are out here running things in the hood.” i told him i’d be honored. “i want you topless,” he said, “that would really be a gag.”

at the fitting, in-house stylist akeemsmithstudios​ put me in an open vest. i was six months on hormones, and my breasts were beginning to show. i felt sexy and dangerous. i wondered if my breasts would comprise the first trans nudity on a major runway.

on the day of the show, i found a new look beneath my comp card. they had tested it on nadja–one of the more classically beautiful women cast–but switched me in at the last minute. at first i was confused, and a little disappointed. look 38 is quite masculine; i felt a sharp pang of dysphoria when i looked at myself in the mirror. i began to sweat. before i hit the runway, casting director kevinamato whispered in my ear: “kill it, bitch.”

i turned the corner. i don’t remember anything until the moment i got back. “i saw you on the monitor,” said kevin, “you tore that.”

then, an epiphany: to send out a topless trans girl would have been shocking, but expected. to put a male model in menswear would have been too on-the-nose. but a trans girl in menswear–her bouncy walk in rigid clothes–maybe that was right. maybe a “dissonance” between clothes and attitudes (identities?) paves the way for new aesthetics, ethics, and poetics of dress to emerge.

i blew the dust off some of my old “boy clothes” when i got home.