Andrej Pejic: The man modelling womenswear

By Brigitt Hauck
BBC News

Image caption,
Andrej Pejic modelled a wedding dress for Gaultier

A male model is the talk of the womenswear shows at London fashion week. So why is a man gaining plaudits for modelling women's clothes?

A svelte blonde standing over 6ft with cascading platinum hair, dewy skin, lush lips and chiselled cheekbones, Andrej Pejic is not untypical of the models strutting the catwalk for womenswear labels, except in one respect.

Pejic is a man.

His look is quite the opposite of the lantern-jawed, muscled men that often pose for advertisements and glossy magazine covers. Indeed, for the layman who has not heard of the striking model it's undeniably difficult to even spot he is a man.

And in fashion's world of gender ambiguity, he is quickly emerging as an "it" face.

High fashion's taste in male models goes through cycles. More stereotypically "masculine" models like David Gandy, Tyson Beckford and Paul Sculfor have been popular, but there's also often high demand for androgynous males to model men's clothes.

Less typical is a man being used to show off women's fashion.

Australian-born Pejic was discovered shortly before he turned 17 while working in a McDonald's. He's revealed in interviews he was unsure whether or not the modelling agent realised she was in fact a he, as he had begun experimenting with a feminine look from the age of 14.

Two years later Pejic captivated the audience during Jean Paul Gaultier's Paris couture show, gracing the runway in a wedding dress. Viewers were said to be shocked to learn the bride wasn't a woman at all. Pejic's jarringly effeminate look has been praised as bold and convincing.

Since the Gaultier show, Pejic has appeared on a number of catwalks modelling womenswear and looking virtually indistinguishable from his female counterparts.

But how can a man pull off this role?

"Andrej is obviously beautiful and he has the most amazing figure. When you consider that a lot of designers are designing for this impossible ideal for someone who is 5ft 11in, no hips and no chest," says the Daily Telegraph's fashion director Hilary Alexander.

Pejic has captivated designers, with his build regarded as nearly perfect for modelling high fashion looks.

Couture wear is made for the tall, twiggy and flat bodies that most women, even models, don't have. Essentially, the clothing is quite suitable for a lean man or even a boy.

Image caption,
Andrej Pejic has been the talk of fashion week

Despite the model's convincing femininity, Pejic has also walked in fashion shows for men's collections.

Alexander suggests the fascination with the androgynous male model might be a reflection of the times.

"It's not just a fashion thing. People are more accepting of transgender personalities, civil marriage and gay couples adopting. It's only natural that a transgender person would appear on a catwalk modelling both menswear and womenswear."

Sarah Doukas of Pejic's agency Storm Model Management in London says his success is not just down to his beauty.

"Andrej is clearly a unique individual with the look, talent and personality to be successful in both arenas [menswear and womenswear], but it is possible he's in the vanguard of a cultural trend where other men do wish to express themselves in this way."

But it's not just the men who are finding ways to express inner femininity. Other models are already following suit.

Transsexual model Lea T, born Leandro, has also gained recent media attention. The model starred in Brazil's fashion week, walked the catwalk for Givenchy and even locked lips with Kate Moss on the cover of LOVE magazine.