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Meet the Nonbinary Model Booking the Biggest Men’s AND Women’s Shows

Meet the Nonbinary Model Booking the Biggest Men’s AND Women’s Shows

And now, Oslo Grace just received their first solo feature in Vogue Paris.

It would be wrong to say that Oslo Grace is having a "moment." Yes, they just came off quite a few successes, walking for a handful of Japanese brands, and they just walked the Kenzo show dressed for both sides of the gender binary, but this isn't their first set of wubs. For the Fall 2018 season back in January 2017, they walked conjoined to Violet Chachki in a tuxedo for Moschino, and carried a baby dragon in one of Alessandro Michele's Gucci shows.

Having just shot a solo editorial with Vogue Paris, debuted at couture week in Paris, with their sights set on the upcoming month of womenswear shows, we chat with Oslo about their latest accomplishments and navigating the notoriously binaried world of fashion as a nonbinary model.

I just saw you shot for Vogue Paris, that seems like a really big deal!

The Vogue Paris feature was undoubtedly my most hefty and thorough feature yet. It was not only a solid concept but it was a passion project by Aleksandra Woroniecka who is the fashion director of the magazine. Projects are usually that much more interesting when the foundation comes from someone's personal convictions, not to mention the cover kid was Erika Linder -- one of the few people I studied getting into the industry. I certainly bow down to the work she's done, so it was a very full circle moment. I had been wondering when I would shoot with Alasdair McLellan as well, and the pictures -- he didn't disappoint.

But you also recently did Jean Paul Gaultier's couture show recently, and he's sort of known of being inclusive, particularly when it comes to gender.

I admittedly speak often on the fact that I don't know much fashion history, and that includes Jean Paul Gaultier's, besides being very aware of the brand he has built up. I am pleased to work for someone inclusive and aim to only set myself in those spaces, but I think his show was just based on purely beautiful couture looks, as it should, and I was grateful to get a spot in the lineup. I don't think there was more depth than that! Furthermore, he was a joy to work with, gracious, and kind. I couldn't have asked for better in my couture debut.

When Humberto Leon from Kenzo posted you after you walked their show, he called you a muse.

It's something that I'm honored to hear, but it's definitely a new experience for me. I've walked Kenzo once and that was last season but I just walked as a guy. It wasn't anything super hyped -- Humberto and I connected because he and Carol Lim also take care of Opening Ceremony. Before, Opening Ceremony had hosted a show with Sasha Velour and they picked a bunch of models to help them out with that and I was one of them. We just sort of connected on a more personal level there. This time was all Humberto and Carol's idea and I actually didn't know it was happening until the day before.

You said you found out the day before so did you audition for both the men's and women's collections or did they just cast you for them off of your previous relationship?

No, I definitely still had to cast like anyone else. So how it went was I actually casted with the men, earlier in the week. I believe Kenzo, in their casting days, which lasted two or three days. Sometimes they saw over 400 boys in one day. So I walked and I knew the casting director. The only way that I had a hint that something might be up is that I saw Humberto at an event in New York and he said he had something special planned for the show. But I still had to cast because it's nothing personal, it's just if the clothes fit or they don't. Or maybe if the vibe is different than they thought it was going to be.

So what I do for all of my shows is whatever I'm walking for, I cast for. So I went in and did a walk for the women's stylist, fit for that, then ran across the room in my underwear and walked for the men's stylist and fit for that.

Is it typical for you to do both?

I've never done that before. I cast regularly for both of the binary genders that fashion is split into nowadays. I get booked for both in various different jobs and various different shows, but I've never done a men's look and a women's look in the same show. The only thing I've done similar is in the Moschino show -- I walked with Violet [Chachki] in a tuxedo and then I had a second look which was much more fem. Also for Gucci, I've walked their show as a woman and I've walked their show as a man in two different shows.

Does this seem like more of a trend or a sign of change for you?

I think we're going to have to see. The true telling sign is whether kids like me get re-booked. It's not just this big statement piece of a show and you don't get booked a second or third time. I think there are unfortunately shows and designers that will place us on the runway or in a campaign but it will be tailored for an LGBTQ+ sort of movement and then soon after they won't book us again.

I want to say that this isn't a trend and I would like to see a change coming, but there's a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes that shows there aren't the best intentions always. But I think with Humberto and Carol, it was certainly pure intentions because they had just booked me as a "normal" kid previously.

Would campaigns be a good indicator of a change as well?

I actually think that shows are some of the best indicators of what is happening, currently, foundationally. I think campaigns are more targeted towards press and personalities because they appear on social media. Someone who does a show gets exposure for only maybe 12 hours. Unless that person is booking every single show, it's not really going to launch that person anywhere and it doesn't pay much because shows involve so many people.

How is the experience backstage?

It's quite interesting. For the Kenzo show, I had one outfit in the men's dressing room and another in the women's. Sometimes they ask if I want to make it easier and just go into a private dressing room because it's still such a binary world. But I have not gotten any negative comments from any other models, to me, that I could hear. I think a lot of trans masculine people feel unsafe around cis men and I've actually had a positive experience. You get certain looks occasionally, which I think is unavoidable when someone is looking at something they don't quite recognize, but I've often been able to go stealth in the men's dressing rooms and restrooms.

I do think that my experience is due to my passing privilege. I don't know how it would be if I didn't have that. I more so have issues with women's dressing rooms and women's changing rooms, and I never go into the women's restrooms because I'm automatically approached and told I'm in the wrong room -- not by any of the models. You'd be surprised -- the models are some of the nicest. It's more of the production teams and styling teams.

How is it to navigate the industry in general being a nonbinary person in a very binary world including things as simple as how model boards are signed?

It's sometimes concerning when you have certain situations that make you feel uncomfortable, but it actually excites me that people in the nonbinary community are able to step over those boundaries, even though they are very much still in place. I think over time it will change, and you already see that with big brands sort of combining their men's and women's shows. So it might take time, but I'm not too disappointed with what I am dealing with now other than individuals that I might run into that are more difficult. But it excites me that we are able to push through it regardless.

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