Friday, December 23, 2011

ANDREJ PEJIC (2) - 20 years



Andrej is NOT emo but because of his stunning looks I think he'll fit in perfectly here!

Height: 6'2" / 1.88
Chest: 36.5 / 92
Waist: 30 / 76
Suit: 39L / 49
Shoes: 10 / 44

IN MAY, Melbourne model Andrej Pejic was voted one of the world's sexiest women by readers of a men's magazine. In October, he wore a Versace pencil skirt to meet the Queen. Last week, he became the poster boy (or girl) for a new push-up bra, posing in a frock that clung to his meagre assets.

Pejic is beautiful, mysterious and smart. It's impossible not to savour his story - a Bosnian-born refugee, raised in Broadmeadows, discovered working at McDonald's - or his sly wit. ''I don't get out of bed for less than $50 a day,'' he told New York magazine.

But what are women to make of this sylphlike man who models clothes made for them? Is he an extreme example of high fashion's chronic denial of the female body shape? Or might we read Pejic as a subversive presence, highlighting the artifice of an industry that lives to provoke?
Pejic's bra ad for the Dutch chain store Hema made headlines, of course. Bra gives man a bustline! Wow! As cleavages go, it wasn't a patch on one displayed years earlier by an edgier expat from suburban Melbourne, the late performance artist Leigh Bowery. He once stuffed his large, wobbly body into a wilfully tight, satin ball gown. Fleshy man boobs shot up like warheads.
 But Bowery's shtick was grotesque camp, Pejic's bra ad is more conventional cover girl. My first thought, on seeing it, was of Nastassja Kinski in Tess of the D'Urbervilles: the cheekbones, the bee-stung lips, that hint of vulnerability. Had I not read the press, I would have sworn this was a girl.
 Pejic models both women's and men's clothes. But an aura of ethereal femininity stays with him, regardless. He is a Gaultier bride: regal, smouldering, all bones and smoky eyes. Or a Botticelli beauty: white-blonde curls and milky skin. Or a young Lana Turner: heavy eyebrows, heavier make-up and a sheaf of golden hair that directs your eye towards his flat, smooth chest.

We've been here before, of course. In 1970, David Bowie wore a below-the-knee, pre-Raphaelite silk dress on the cover of The Man Who Sold the World. A decade later, Boy George wore a smock top, braids and more powder than an Elizabethan queen. No self-respecting '80s New Romantic was without make-up, while in Thailand, ladyboys have long been part of mainstream culture. Then there's Gaga, who has channelled everyone from Bowery to Grace Jones.

Pejic shaves his legs but apparently has little chest or facial hair. He has spoken frankly about what it takes to stay thin. (''Let's be honest,'' he told Grazia. ''You can't eat much if you want to do this.'') Whatever else, he's a contrast to other modes of Melbourne masculinity: the Warnie manscaper (orange tan, chalk-white teeth) or the bushranger beard (think early Grinderman).
 In interviews, Pejic comes across as a thoughtful, questioning soul. He went to University High, and may be the first model to nominate Trotsky as his favourite author. On sexual preferences, he maintains an artful airiness. ''I identify as what I am,'' he has said, which should clear up nothing. This is entirely predictable. Why ruin things with definitions?
 Less predictable is the sight of a man modelling clothes that are explicitly designed for the female body. The bra ad was a clever stunt. But the catwalk is something else. How many women are shaped like a gaunt, snake-hipped youth with scrawny legs and a bony torso?
 ''I am very curvy … in the traditional 1950s way, and I have literally given up,'' wrote one woman online after looking at Pejic's bra photos. ''These designers do not cater for me or my body shape.''
 In his own weird way, Pejic has grappled with questions of gender politics. There was the time he turned up at an airport with a foam-filled ''baby bump'' - a stunt intended to comment on those Victoria's Secret models who ''pop out'' a baby and are on the catwalk a week later.
 And as he told New York: ''In this society, if a man is called a woman, that's the biggest insult he could get. Is that because women are considered something less?''
 It's a perceptive comment, which brings to mind the fact that for many parents, it's still far more acceptable to have a ''tomboy'' than a ''sissy''. One is a compliment. The other is not.
Pejic disturbs categories of gender, and in doing so, disturbs people. Even the men's magazine FHM, after ranking him 98th on its 100 sexiest women list, could not resist a sly dig on its website (''Pass the sick bucket''), for which it later apologised.
He's way too thin, as they all are, and should he be taking girls' jobs? As London Telegraph columnist Olivia Bergin has noted, modelling is one of few industries where women earn more than men.
  But when I look at photos of Pejic's womanly face and skinny, boyish torso, I'm reminded of fashion's intrinsic fakery. It's a show, a pantomime. How special are any of them, without all the stagehands?
In a way, I feel relief when I see Pejic looking gorgeous in a miniskirt. It's a man. Phew! I'll dream of something else.
Suzy Freeman-Greene is a senior writer.


Next post: ANDREJ PEJIC (3) - 20 years - Black & White


No comments:

Post a Comment