Designer and artist Gogo Graham tends to include heart-stopping elements in her shows. Last season, she enlisted artist Leah James for a blood-letting performance, and it was the most memorable thing we saw at New York Fashion Week. And while this season Graham didn't present her collection live, her lookbook for her Spring 2020 collection is no less eye-catching. To wit: Graham used a blow-up sex doll as a model.
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"The doll that exists throughout the shoot is a blow up sex doll," Graham told PAPER. "I hoped this would be perceived as a reminder that both the fetishization and objectification of our bodies is and perhaps always was a part of our lives and lives before us for trans femmes. Today, it is painfully and inextricably linked to our existence."
Graham designs for trans women, and her work is always thoughtful and impactful. In addition to the (genius) blow-up doll, she cast living models for the shoot: Cecilia Gentili, an organizer and founder of Transgender Equity Consulting, and Chanelle Sessooms, who works with the AIDS service organization GMHC. "Their work in advocacy for trans sex workers and reproductive justice for people of trans experience respectively is so inspiring," Graham said. "And individually, they are both two of the most kind, funny and talented people I know."
She continued, "My inspiration for this collection came from trans femmes of past generations. In the not-too-distant past, perhaps 10-15 years ago even, it was extremely uncommon for trans femmes to be offered positions in office settings. I wanted to create a fantasy world in which they are dressed in officewear that was not often required for trans femmes to wear for work in the time of their youth."
Graham's collection is entirely upcycled; she repurposed "old business casual shirting" and various fabric scraps in order to create a collection of the coolest work-appropriate clothing we've ever seen, like a topsy-turvy rendition of 9 to 5. Ann Taylor, eat your heart out.
Photography: Leah James (courtesy of Gogo Graham)