Casey Legler competed as a swimmer in the 1996 Summer Olympics when she was 19. Now, the 6'2" former Olympian is focusing on her modeling career. Yet, Legler isn't a traditional model, but one who has been signed to Ford to work exclusively as a male.
Legler's story has interested us before, but her current interview with The Guardian about the fluidity and performance of gender rejects the claim of androgyny as a "trend" right in its tracks. "I'm not androgynous," she explains, "There is no ambiguity with me." Legler's goal is particularly political. "I am the person who has to introduce this. They want to shoot me because I have a narrative, and implicit in that is a conversation."
While gender permutation is certainly not a new "trend" in fashion — think Bowie, Virginia Woolf, or even the wig-wearing 18th century men — allowing for models, the blank slate on which clothing is displayed, to join in the conversation is certainly a new moment. The Guardian features an interesting quote from Leeds University professor Ruth Holliday. "Models like Casey Legler and Andrej Pejic can be political because the ways in which they make us believe in the gender they perform shows us that all gender is performance." To further her statement, when gender is a performance, the signifiers of identity (in this case, clothes and make-up), become part of the performance too. Elevating the model conversation doesn't just bring up Judith Butler-esque ideas about self, but it also reminds us that fashion is an art and those who think about it critically (like Legler) can be truly groundbreaking artists.