Let These Photos Remind You Models Can Come From All Backgrounds

Photo: Courtesy of You Do You.
We're just going to come out and say it: Fashion shoots can be boring. Especially when they consist of nothing but the now-stale recipe of homogenous models in expensive clothing at exotic locales. After a while, things start to look the same, no matter how "next" the season may be. But every once in a while, truly forward-thinking publications break the mold and give us something of substance. In a new collaboration, agender outlet You Do You and Opening Ceremony honored the beneficiaries of SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders).

To celebrate Pride month, the online magazine set out to "remind the world who paved the way" for the LGBTQ youth of today and photograph "some incredibly young-at-heart 60 plus-ers." Dressed in brands like Kenzo, Dries Van Noten, and Adidas, among others, the seniors embraced their own aesthetics. "We pre-selected a bunch of pieces from doing several walk-throughs at Opening Ceremony and brought all the garments with us to SAGE," You Do You cofounder Kristiina Wilson told Refinery29 exclusively. "The process was 100% collaborative. Trust me, there was no way we could have talked any of the seniors into anything they weren't feeling. They all have strong feelings about their personal style and making the looks their own."

Pictured above is Sheila, who "has been with her partner for 23-plus years, loves quilting, swims in hopes to work on that bod, and doesn’t have or need some big 'coming out' story." And below, Pearl, an HIV-positive transgender woman who has lived through every social movement that has shaped and jostled the LGBTQ community along the way to what it is today. From working in Special Services during the Vietnam War, to Wall Street, to performing "Coffee Shop Talk with Mother Pearl" on LGTBQ-friendly Fire Island on the weekends, this is a model who has truly seen it all. She says of her transition, "One day, I had to go back to the city and didn’t want to take Pearl off. I never looked back, and that was in 2000."
Photo: Courtesy of You Do You.
For Carly Aimi, director of brand marketing at Opening Ceremony, the timing of the shoot (one day before the tragic shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando) wasn't opportune. "Even knowing there is so much more to do, I felt proud for how far we've come, enriched by our LGBTQ+ seniors' stories and their hope for the future. But as I wrote in my story, this day happened before Orlando, it was hard not to let the horrific events crush these previous feelings," she told us. "In the end, though, the solution felt clear. We must combine past and present — we can't isolate the queer movement by youth or generations — so we all can continue to stand together for a society that no longer alienates one another, but rather loves."

And she's right. Fashion often feels too exclusive. But when our generation is walled between Pokémon Go and the #BlackLivesMatter movements — unsure which to post about on social media first — women like Sheila and Pearl come around to remind us that we're not stuck.
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