fashion and the trans aesthetic
by harinef | part iii: editorial archive

hannelore knuts, boyd holbrook, harry kinhead
missy rayder, rj, karen elson, elise crombez  
asexual revolution” by steven meisel
styled by alex white | w magazine october 2004

listen: i’m tried of imagery that interrogates “gender” for “gender’s” sake. i would, however, be remiss to neglect steven meisel’s “asexual revolution” in a discussion of the trans aesthetic in fashion.

“asexual” is a powerful tagline. white’s styling, for the most part, eschews drag-y clichés to chip away at normative gender aesthetics rather than reinforce them. take the image above: hannelore looks androgynous as ever, missy’s serving high femme, karen and elise could have just walked off a set for american vogue (if you cropped the photo, anyway). oh, and the boys look like boys. indeed: the “asexuality” of this image emerges from gender performance, not gender aesthetic. from left to right: he holds her breasts; she holds his “breasts;” he holds his “breasts;” she holds her breasts. to conclude, a question: what’s a breast? if everyone can replicate this gesture, does this mean that everyone has breasts? does anyone have breasts? the binary body dissolves into a gestural index. “asexual?” maybe. trans? for sure.