Andreja Pejic lands American Vogue – and Make Up For Ever

Another career milestone for the Australian modelling superstar




Major congratulations are due to Andreja Pejic, the star of a four-page feature in the May 2015 edition of Vogue US.

‘The New World’ feature by Alice Walker includes at least one photograph by Patrick Demarchelier. So far only this opening DPS, above, has surfaced, but according to Pejic’s Instagram, the story runs four pages in total.

According to Pejic’s Australian mother agent Joseph Tenni at Chadwick Models, Pejic shot four looks with Demarchelier which may appear elsewhere in the feature – or elsewhere inside the issue.

British actor Carey Mulligan is the May edition’s cover star and Pejic is not name-checked in the story’s cover line: “Trans America – The next frontier in gender politics“.

But Pejic is most certainly the primary focus of the story, which explores “the cultural and political mainstreaming of transgender identity” and which is being heavily promoted by the magazine. After the initial announcement of Mulligan’s cover, the story was the second feature of the issue to be promoted by Vogue’s publicity department, as our inbox can attest.

An appearance in Anna Wintour’s US Vogue mothership represents a major industry coup for any model.

A prominent feature story in the magazine is next level. Numerous media outlets are also reporting that Pejic is the first transgender model to be featured in the magazine. This has yet to be confirmed by Vogue – which must surely have given at least some minor coverage in the mid 1980s to American Teri Toye, the erstwhile transgender muse of the late designer Stephen Sprouse. Toye’s career was ignited by influential American fashion photographer Steven Meisel.

Pejic quietly underwent gender confirmation surgery in January 2014, following a blockbuster four year international career as the androgynous superstar Andrej Pejic, who deftly navigated modelling both menswear and womenswear – at times in the same runway show. Case in point, Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall/Winter 2011/2012 menswear ‘James Blond’ show, which was dedicated to Pejic.

Pejic’s official coming out as a transgender woman in July last year was met with a blaze of international publicity. At the same time, Pejic announced she had switched from the men’s to the women’s boards of all her model agencies – which necessitated leaving DNA Model Management in New York for The Society Management.

Ironically, Gene Kogan, DNA Model Management men’s division co-director is quoted in the story, singing Pejic’s praises. Kogan tells Vogue:

“She has done what no other model has ever been able to: toe the line between male and female successfully for a long time. Andreja had an extraordinary career as a male model, often modeling female clothes; she pulled it off. It opened a lot of eyes and made people see things from a new perspective. We’re going to see her influence for years to come.”

Why the New York move?

Tenni tells Frockwriter, “There just wasn’t the same level of enthusiasm on the women’s board at DNA – and a model needs to go where the enthusiasm is”.

Pejic doesn’t name names, but she does mention some of the negative commentary with which her transition news was greeted by some model agents.

Pejic tells Vogue, “There was definitely a lot of ‘Oh, you’re going to lose what’s special about you. You’re not going to be interesting anymore. There are loads of pretty girls out there’”.

One agent allegedly told her, “It’s better to be androgynous than a tranny.”

It’s less than a year since Pejic announced her transition. In the interim, The Society Management, Chadwick and other reps have organised a few key gigs.

Beyond the Vogue coup, there was a cameo appearance in Melbourne at last October’s launch of the National Gallery of Victoria’s Jean Paul Gaultier retrospective; a Steven Klein photoshoot in W magazine and runway appearances for Giles Deacon at London Fashion Week in February and Josh Goot at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival last month.

Pejic has also crowdfunded a documentary about her life, raising US$30,000, with a little help from some high profile supporters such as Jared Leto and Ashton Kutcher.

The documentary has yet to be completed, but sadly won’t include footage from the Vogue shoot according to Tenni – or the shoot for Pejic’s new campaign with the LVMH-owned French beauty brand Make Up For Ever, which is also revealed in the Vogue story. No comment from Tenni on whether or not the documentary – which filmed in and around Pejic’s transition surgery at an Arizona hospital – also includes footage of what sources report was a subsequent breast augmentation surgery.

Contrary to some reports, Pejic is not the first transgender model to be signed to a beauty campaign, but she is definitely a key player in the beauty industry’s new gender diverse vanguard. In late 2014, Brazilian Lea T was signed to a Redken campaign and American teenager Jazz Jennings recently scored a campaign with Johnson & Johnson’s Clean & Clear skincare brand.

Pejic has been in and out of Vogue since she first launched into international orbit at the Spring/Summer 2011 menswear shows in Paris in mid 2010. Vogue US is a far more difficult magazine to crack, however.

There have been fashion editorials in Vogue Paris, Vogue Italia, Vogue Turkey and also Vogue Australia – and almost P1 of the latter in fact. As revealed by Frockwriter in this 2013 interview with former Vogue Australia editor Kirstie Clements, at the time of her dismissal in May 2012, Clements had set in motion plans to feature Pejic on the front cover later that year, to synch with Vogue Fashion’s Night Out.

The Vogue Australia cover would have made world headlines. To date, according to Tenni, new editor Edwina McCann has not expressed any interest in following up on Clements’ plans.

In fact beyond a very early group cover appearance on Oyster in 2008 and this November 2013 cover of GQ Australia, women’s fashion magazine covers in Pejic’s home market have been negligible, which is bizarre considering what an extraordinary international career she has carved, clocking up nearly 30 international covers in the process.

Will recognition from arguably the world’s most high profile fashion magazine make a difference to the typically less than pro-active Australians?

Watch this space.