This week, Barneys New York enveiled the last installement of its groundbreaking spring campaign, Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters, which features 17 transgender models: a 36-minute short film directed by photographer Bruce Weber.
Shot last summer in New York City, it's a collection of individual interviews with the models cast in campaign, some professional, some not (one female-to-male trans model, Dezjorn Gauthier, was scouted on Instagram). The film also features Jack Doroshow, the unrelenting artist and activist who was arrested 77 times fighting for trans and gay rights throughout the 1950s and '60s.
Speaking to Vanity Fair journalist Patricia Bosworth, each share their personal experience with transitioning. Some of them, like the Oklahoma trans teens Arin Andrews and Katie Hill, who transitioned together as a couple last year, were lucky to receive the support of their family and friends. Some had to struggle with abandonment and turned to God, or their own self-belief, to go through with their transformation.
Bosworth—also the author of acclaimed biographies on Diane Arbus and Montgomery Clift— interviewed each model to pen their stories, which will be shown along with the campaign images in Barneys windows and the retailer's website. The exercice, she said, was the highlight of her decade-spanning career.
The unveiling of the film was an emotional, inspiring moment: The guests in attendance the Guggenheim Theater, in Manhattan, remained silent throughout the projection. After the film, Weber, Bosworth, and Barneys' creative director Dennis Freedman, opened the floor for a Q&A. They were joined by the campaign's models, who received a standing ovation as they made their way onto the stage.
For photographer Bruce Weber, meeting them was a life-changing experience: "I would say it's a sitting that really changed the course of my life, in a way," he said, struggling to hold back tears. "Because, I don't know, the older I get, I want to do photographs and make films about things that are going to make people think about things."
Barneys' C.E.O. Mark Lee also spoke at the event and said it was time for Barneys to embark on such a project: "We're all conscious in the last couple of years of all the strides that gays and lesbians are making in marriage equality, and it seemed that the 'T' in LGBT was getting a little bit left behind," he said.
For the campaign, Barneys partnered with the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and New York's LGBT Community Center. On February 11, day of the film release, the retailer donated 10% of all sales from its 11 flagship stores and Barneys.com to the two organizations.
Barneys announced it will also implement, with the help of The Center and NCTE, an educational program for its employees to ensure the issues facing the transgender community are understood and integrated into the company’s zero-tolerance discrimination policy.
Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters is now streaming in full on Barneys' fashion blog, The Window, and it will be shown in the Madison Avenue store windows through March 16.
Watch it below: