There's Something Really Special About These Ads

by Erin Mayer

The ad campaigns over at Barneys New York stick to a tried and true formula: neutral palette, androgynous models, sparse backdrop. For its next campaign, the images will be pretty standard — black and white photographs of slim-hipped models in the latest offerings from avant-garde designers like Balenciaga, Lanvin, and Ann Demeulemeester — but there will be one key difference: Barneys is casting only transgender models in its Spring 2014 campaign. And it's awesome.

The campaign, shot by photographer Bruce Weber, will feature 17 transgender men and women alongside family and friends. It is the result of a partnership between Barneys, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the LGBT Community Center (The Center). Titled "Brothers, Sisters, Sons, & Daughters," the focus transcends fashion by bringing attention to the stories of these powerful individuals.

In addition to the photographs, each model will be interviewed by Vanity Fair writer Patricia Bosworth. The photos and interviews will both be printed in magazines and in a special portfolio, as well as featured on The Window, the official Barneys blog. Creative director Dennis Freedman had this to say about the project:

Our goal was to convey the strength, beauty and courage of these extraordinary individuals through the iconic photographs and films of Bruce Weber, as well as the insightful writing of Patricia Bosworth [...] Great progress has been made in regards to the lesbian, gay and bisexual community. Unfortunately, the struggle for transgender equality continues. In the end, it is our hope that that we can make a difference through this campaign.

First up are Arin Andrews and Katie Hill, a former couple who made headlines last summer as they went through the transition process together. Their touching interview and accompanying photograph (both are pictured here wearing Ann Demeulemeester) have been released, and if the other profiles are anything like this one, I think we can proclaim the Barneys project a success.

The other faces of the campaign are Edie Charles, Valentijn de Hingh, Ashley de la Cruz, Sawyer Devuyst, Peche Di, Dezjorn Gauthier, Trevon Haynes, Eve Lindley, Niki M’nray, Ryley Pogensky, Ines Rau, May Simon, Ahya Taylor, Maxie Neu and Gisele Xtravaganza.

"Brothers, Sisters, Sons, & Daughters" has received overwhelming support from the LGBTQ and fashion communities, especially on social media. It is heartening to see good news about the transgender community, especially following the recent controversy with Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera on on Dateline. It seems that media may finally be getting a clue.

Transgender people are woefully underrepresented in all areas of art and advertising. While we still have a long way to go, Barneys is taking a large step in the right direction by backing the struggle for transgender equality. We love when big names use their powers of influence for good. Way to go, Barneys!

Images: BarneysNY/Twitter