Lea, Born Again.
New top model alert: in this fall’s Givenchy campaign, Lea is standing, in feathers, close to Mariacarla, Malgosia and Joan Smalls. With hollow cheeks and faded eyebrows, she exudes a beauty that is regal, detached, retro, and androgynous, something between Greta Garbo and Candy Darling. Lea T., the sensation of fall 2010, is the new star of the agency Women. A woman to be [or possibly “a woman in the process of becoming”], born Leo, she decided to tame life in high heels. Originally from Belo Horizonte, she grew up a well-educated boy in both Brazil and Italy, in a respected Catholic family. With two sisters and a brother, Leo was destined for a career in veterinary medicine, up to the day when Lea appeared: “I met Riccardo Tisci, who had just come out of Central Saint Martins (College of Art and Design). Little by little, we became friends. And, one night, he encouraged me to wear high heels to a party. We went to buy drag queen shoes and also bleached my eyebrows. It was a revelation.” Lea followed her pygmalion/mentor to Givenchy in Paris and worked there as his assistant, confidante, and fitting model for two seasons. Back in Milan, she decided to start her physical metamorphosis, a treatment that was met with public prejudice and immense familial unease. “It was like a war inside my head,” she says. From Paris, Riccardo followed the ups and downs of the change. He offered help and “one day, he called to ask me to pose for a Mert & Marcus ad.” Lea accepted in the name of all her transsexual friends, a standard bearer for their cause, and “especially proud of her friendship with Riccardo.” Since that ad campaign, casting and interview offers rain on Piero Piazzi, Lea’s agent at Women, “another of my guardian angels.” Lea, with disarming simplicity, explains that she is waiting for the definitive intervention that will liberate her femininity, “as soon as the papers are finalized.” She is open to her future, be it on the runway, or perhaps in the fashion studio/workshop, or back home, her true birthplace, Brazil.
I think it’s cool, & I’m glad she did it, though I know some of you are burnt out on people using trans bodies as this week’s shock factor. I don’t think this one is doing that, even though it’s confrontational because she’s looking right at you, the viewer. It’s impossible not to see her as a person (unless you’re the kind of person who dehumanizes any naked woman). Thoughts?