Andreja Pejić on Her "Anything But Classic" Modeling Career
When Andreja Pejić wins, we all win. That’s because the international supermodel has found a way to built up a tremendous career by challenging the status quo, meaning that each time she graces the cover of a magazine or walks a runway for renowned designers, it’s a nod of approval to anyone who thinks they’re too “different” to make it big.
While there have been major strides for the trans community in fashion over the past few years, Pejić was really at the forefront of it all. Her recent double cover of GQ Portugal‘s April Issue made history yet again, as she did when she won GQ Portugal‘s “Female Model Of The Year” award in October. She’s a role model (no pun intended) slowly making her way to icon-status, and we’re applauding her every move. We spoke with Pejić about GQ, how her career has evolved, and the role fashion plays when it comes to gender.
Why did this cover feel particularly important for you?
This cover is great for me because for a while now I’ve felt that my humble curves deserved more recognition. I also hope that me showing up on a cover of such a classic men’s title might help the male species feel less shame about loving girls like us. I am not here to just make people re evaluate the gender binary sometimes I just wanna go on a date!
Do you feel pressure to be a role model?
Yes, but I don’t let it limit me too much. To me a good role model is a human being with great ideas, convictions, contradictions and flaws.
What’s your relationship with GQ like?
It was always the favorite mag of the young, cool and sexy english teacher that had my teenage heart. Lot’s of love to Mr. Benson.
What’s your relationship with Milk like?
I’ve spent countless days and nights at Milk creating images and walking shows that have in many ways defined my life.
Can you describe working with photographer Branislav Simoncik?
He was very attentive and calm. He brought a natural and romantic quality to a sexy editorial.
You’ve said that your modeling career has been “anything but classic.” Can you elaborate on this a bit?
Well I started my career as a an androgynous/gender fluid model. At the time I was presenting as a boy but in reality I was half way through my transition. I quickly cultivated a career in both menswear and womenswear. I would walk for everyone from Raf Simons at Paris Men’s FW to Jean Paul Gaultier haute couture. About two years ago I decided to finish my transition and to continue living/breathing/working solely as a girl. I then became the first transgender woman to be in American Vogue, land a cosmetics contract and a few other projects I’m very proud of. So yeah, I’m not sure that sounds exactly “classic” but then again maybe it’s the new classic?
How has your career changed in terms of your body changing?
Well it’s certainly a little more difficult to fit a sample size now but then again gaining hips and boobs probably helped me land a GQ cover. Mostly the response from everyone has been great. Occasionally I’ll get the odd back handed compliment like “well as long as you’re happy now, that’s all that matters” and my usual response is “yes bitch, I’m bigger, better, prettier AND happier then ever but thank you for caring so deeply about my feelings.”
When it comes to the LGBTQA community, do you think things are moving forwards or backwards at this current time? Or at least in terms of how that community is treated?
Culturally, I would say things are taking steps forward. Economically, politically, legally things are either going back or are stagnant at best. Representation is great but it isn’t everything, it’s probably gonna take a movement bigger and more organized then just hashtags to affect change. Although that is a starting point.
Do you find fashion to be more inclusive or exclusive? Do you think your story is unique within the world of fashion?
Fashion is extremely exclusivist. Once in a while it does open its doors to certain sections of the oppressed but mostly it’s mainly all about the new aristocracy. My grandfather left an eastern European village at 16 to fight the Nazi’s in a socialist mass uprising, so no fancy bloodline here. I guess my story of being a war refugee and being transgender is unique in the world of fashion. It’s probably not that unique in the rest of the world. For example, over 34 million children were displaced from their home by the the end of 2015 as a result of war. Roughly 340,000 of these kids could be transgender. However I doubt fashion will ever hear their stories if they’re not tall white and pretty at the right time and right place.
Featured image courtesy of Zoey Grossman
Stay tuned to Milk for more model mayhem.