Andrej Pejic Discusses Jewelry, Gender Identity & How She's Following in Naomi's Footsteps
By Les Fabian Brathwaite
Photo: Rowan Papier
Known for a chameleon-like androgyny, Aussie supermodel Andrej Pejic has gone from a haute couture anomaly to a breakout star in her own right, all while remaining true to the fierce individuality that set her apart from the beginning.
Yesterday, Pejic welcomed guests to the Gilded Lily, a club in New York, for the launch of her new jewelry line in collaboration with Sam H Snyder Design. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Ali Forney Center, a vital resource in the city providing shelter, HIV prevention and life skills training for homeless and at-risk LGBT youth.
We caught up with Pejic—who was decked out in head-to-toe Gaultier, including a bustier, figure-hugging cigarette pants, and a subtle heel adding to her towering 6-foot-2 frame—to discuss fashion, gender identity, and her upcoming documentary. Plus, what gender pronoun we all should be using when referring to the supermodel these days. "A lot of my friends, close friends, use 'She.' Professionally, they say, 'He.' I really don’t give a shit anymore," Pejic explained while she answered Out's 10 burning questions—and more!
WATCH: Andrej Pejic in the ad campaign for the Pejic x Snyder collection
Out: What inspired your jewelry collection?
Andrej Pejic: The collection is all about defying rules and being free, which I think is the defining characteristic of my career. Rebellion. I don’t think I’ve broken the rules, but I manipulated them to appear in this form. It has a great minimal aesthetic. Every piece reflects my style.
How did the Ali Forney Center get involved?
I was looking for a charity and it was very important for me to find one that I could relate to on a personal level. They help homeless LGBT youth in New York, and it’s a huge demand. I just thought it would be a good idea to shed a light on that cause, because a lot of people don’t know that the Ali Forney Center exists. I contacted them, and I went to see them. They were just really lovely.
There's an ongoing debate about your gender identity. To set the record straight, how do you see yourself?
These days it’s just like: “whatever.” It comes to the point like, “Who gives a crap?” For me it’s always been important to show it doesn’t matter what gender you are. It doesn’t define who you are. There’s more to me than just that. And I like to express that in many different ways.
Does it matter to you if people refer to you as he or she, or do you just don’t care?
A lot of my friends, close friends, use "she." Professionally, they say he. I really don’t give a shit anymore. [Laughs] I’ve come to that point! I imagine for me it’s freedom.
How does the fashion industry respond to that?
I think fluidity and a sort of vagueness have been characteristic of my career and it’s been successful in a lot of ways because of that. I’ve been able to morph into different things, be a chameleon, and I think that’s something very unique that I’ve had a chance to do. So I feel very lucky for that.
What would you say to your fans who are confused about gender in fashion?
Do your research, get a lot of information. In regards to modeling, be careful—don’t live for it. It’s just a job.
Yes, I try to do more charity work as a whole, and I like working with children. I was very lucky to come from a loving family and I think it’s everyone’s right, actually. Sadly, a lot of these kids don’t have that right, so I would love to do more of that.
There were rumors that you were working on a reality show. Is that still happening?
No, I’m actually making a documentary. I can’t really talk about it. It's about my life, some things that are happening in my personal life and commercial life.
Do you know when it’s coming out?
You made the OUT100 list in 2011. How has your career evolved since then?
I started out doing like a lot of high fashion, basically just high-end stuff. And it’s expanded into more commercial. I think I’ve sort of become a little bit of a “personality,” if you will, which is cool because I feel like I have something to say, as well as being able to model. So yes, it’s exciting. I’m branding myself. Going the Naomi Campbell route. Trying to follow in Naomi’s footsteps.
As everyone should do.
Everyone and their mother.
What is your favorite piece from the collection?
The choker. It’s the Choker from Hell.
The Pejic x Snyder collection is available now at SamHSnyder.com