When Givenchy’s head designer cast his personal assistant, Lea T., in a print ad for the brand, it sparked a frenzy of interest. Calls for interviews and modeling gigs began pouring in. Now, French Vogue, the hipper sister of American Vogue, is running a profile of the Brazilian model alongside a nude portrait in its upcoming issue. But this isn’t your typical tale about the feverish discovery of a new face in high-fashion — because Lea just happens to be a transsexual.
Of course, that makes the nude all the more provocative. Her gaze is calm and direct, and the casual placement of her hand clearly reveals that she hasn’t had gender reassignment surgery. Unlike in the buzzed-about Givenchy ad, she doesn’t wear ostentatious makeup or strike any of the dramatic poses that usually mark high fashion editorials. She is simply, arrestingly bare. With her long hair draped over her shoulders, Lea looks straight out of the Garden of Eden — and that is perhaps what’s most subversive about the photo: its ability to make us re-conceive of what we think of as “natural.”