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Fashion has always served as a reflection of the times. When Coco Chanel debuted her line of comfortable sports and leisurewear in the 1920s, she constructed a new kind of femininity with the modern woman in mind. When black models stepped into the spotlight in the 1960s, muses for designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Paco Rabanne, they did so in the midst of the civil rights movement. In the wake of the triumphant strides made in the transgender community, fashion has begun filling runways, magazine editorials, and advertising campaigns with trans models; an elite cast of faces mirroring greater societal progress.
This change has been in the works for quite some time; Carmen Carrera, Andreja Pejić, and Lea T have been present in high fashion for years. T, a supermodel and designer Riccardo Tisci's muse, is the face of haircare brand Redken. Pejić earned the coveted closing walk at Jean Paul Gaultier's fall 2013 runway show, while Carrera scored multi-page editorials in the December 2011 and September 2013 issues of W magazine. Last Fashion Week, both Hood by Air and Eckhaus Latta sent trans models down their fall 2015 runways. The uptick in demand for trans representation in fashion has lead to the world's first ever transgender modeling agency, which opened its doors this past November.
Below are four rising trans models you'll be seeing up and down the spring 2016 runways. (Follow them on Instagram — now!) With beauty contracts, advertising campaigns, and show appearances sealed, these are the faces to keep your eye out for this Fashion Week.
Hari Nef — @HariNef
Nef exploded on the scene last NYFW, walking the fall 2015 runways for Adam Selman, Hood By Air, and Eckhaus Latta. The 22-year-old model, activist, and actress is the first trans woman to be signed to major modeling agency IMG, which represents industry leaders like Joan Smalls and Gisele Bündchen. A recent graduate from Columbia University in New York, Nef has a degree in theatre under her belt in addition to that impressive runway portfolio. She's also the face of the & Other Stories fall 2015 campaign, featuring an all-transgender and gender-fluid cast and crew. Keep an eye out for Hari this fashion week and on season two of the Amazon original series Transparent later this winter. Follow her on Instagram for a moodboard of high fashion editorial shoots, plus snapshots of herself alongside fellow trans models affectionately tagged #girlslikeus.
Juliana Huxtable — @JulianaHuxtable
A former legal assistant turned poet/artist/model/DJ, Huxtable was another runway favorite last NYFW, seen in shows from Hood by Air to DKNY. Her likeness is exhibited in a statue by the artist Frank Benson, which was showcased at the opening of the New Museum's Triennial in New York earlier this year. Peruse her Instagram account for art inspo, unfiltered selfies, and posts dedicated to raising awareness for the trans women who have lost their lives due to violence this past year.
Andreja Pejić — @AndrejaPejic
When she's not dancing on stage alongside Taylor Swift, Pejić stays busy with her role as a new face of cosmetics line Makeup Forever. Her feed is full of photos from the campaign as well as glamorous behind the scenes images from shoots and runway shows. The 24-year-old's big break came at 17 when she was scouted while working at a McDonald's in Australia. Since then, she has been featured in editorial shoots for Vogue Paris, Interview, and, most recently, W magazine. Her runway resume includes DKNY, Jeremy Scott, Giles, and Jean Paul Gaultier, where she closed the fall 2013 show as the designer's bridal muse. Pejić has plenty in the works, including a self-titled documentary which is expected to be a part of the Sundance Film Festival early next year.
Valentijn de Hingh — @ValentijnDeHingh
As the subject of a self-titled documentary spanning nine years, it's safe to say Valentijn is pretty comfortable in the spotlight. The Dutch model's Instagram account consists of fresh-faced portraits and snaps of her latest magazine features. Her runway work includes Maison Martin Margiela and Comme des Garcons, and she's faced campaigns for Tom Ford. She recently starred alongside Hari Nef in the & Other Stories fall advertising images.