Maxim Magnus for Marie Clarie Italia
Translated from Italian by Ludovica Poggi….
Maxim Magnus, the trans model of the viral hashtag #TransIsNotATrend
“I took a lot of rubbish, I had to deal with a lot of people who hit me in the face because I was not pretty, or because they wanted to use me as a transgender.”
Maxim Magnus during this interview will ask that her eggs are re-cooked because they are not exactly to her taste. Maxim Magnus became a model for Gucci when the empire of Alessandro Michele took shape. Magnus is the trans model who perfectly interpreted the new fluid course of fashion. Graceful and cheeky in challenging with a smile the icy wind that illuminates the sky of Milano on the last day of Milan Fashion Week. With Montenapoleone emptied from the early departures to Paris (on the other hand the first day of the French fashion week hosting the Gucci Spring Summer fashion show as a special guest), we sneak in the private and silent streets that lead to Bulgari Hotel to meet Maxim Magnus. And, first pleasant digression, Maxim welcomes us with a large breakfast set in front of her, a very open smile and a pair of sunglasses with yellow lenses (vision of a world tired of the feminine cliche of pink lenses?). The cold air seems to make her pure ivory skin even more ivory, revealed by denim shorts and a white one-shoulder body with strategic cuts.
Tell us about yourself. How did you start your career in fashion, when and why did you want to start this career?
My career in fashion began… I don’t know! I’ve always loved fashion, it’s something that has been handed down to me by past generations. My grandmother was a hats mistress. My mother has a great sense of style, she is not obsessed with fashion but has her own style and this has always fascinated me. I knew I would have done something in the fashion world anyway. When I had to choose which university to go to, I did not really know what to decide: I’m not a lover of academia ,I don’t like school, I prefer to work and gain experience. Education is great, of course, but I don’t like to be told what to do, I prefer to devote myself to creative situations in my own way. Then I discovered that Condé Nast proposes a three year course in two: after 7 months of uni a friend of mine had to do a photoshoot. He told me “Maxim, would you like to be a model for this final project? I really like how you are, I think it would be great.
We are talking about which year?
Last year, 2017. I moved to London to study and I still live there. When my teachers saw the final project, they highly recommended me to think about a modelling career. I never thought about it, or rather, it was something I had thought about but I did not think I could really become a model. I was very insecure, I was not happy, I did not think that modelling was for me. One of my teachers wrote me a list of agencies that could have done for me. The first name on the list was Linden Staub: my teacher accompanied me to the appointment and I signed immediately. After a year I’m still with them.
So you’re the brand new face, the new face of fashion?
Yes, you can say it. She smiles smugly, showing a different side to herself in each question. Here and there, Maxim Magnus apologizes for her voice, obviously suffering from the cold and the party of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards of the night before (“I felt very insecure, it was the first time I had a red carpet and I saw Alessandra Ambrosio next to me … “). It was her first red carpet and she marched along with Andreja Peijc. Relay of careers that cross, a blessing for the young Belgian. Like Andreja, Maxim Magnus is a trans model that has made of its uniqueness a value. But she does not want to be remembered just because she is transgender and has indeed made the transition. Her kindness is slightly stiffened by a base shyness that does not abandon her, but at the same time, when she asks the waiter to replace the eggs she had ordered because they are boiled and not a la coque, she shows a neutral and firm tone from the upper classes, which comes into extreme contrast with her courtesy towards us.
How does being the next next big thing in fashion make you feel? Especially at a time like this, with all civil rights movements and the gender fluidity talk that you undoubtedly bring with you?
(She takes a sip of coffee, hit by the question). I have always looked at the models and the industry because for me they were the epitome of beauty. When I made the transition, I thought of them. I do not think about it any more now, but then it was a very strong thought, I looked at it everywhere. I thought being a model was the best. My studies have made me a little ‘fashionless, less obsessed. When I started modeling I thought I had to become something different: I love fashion, I want to show off my clothes and pose for beautiful photo shoots, but I want to be more than that. I believe that today with social networks there are more platforms to be explored for us models, and that they are much more creative for us than being simple clothes hangers. Being a model is undoubtedly showing clothes, we know. But with all that is happening now, it seems that there is more interest in whoever wears clothes, about workers, about how these clothes are made. There are also LGBTQ community workers living in countries where LGBTQ rights are not guaranteed, they have no support, they have nothing. I just want to send my message: my life is glamorous, yes, but not all the time. I work a lot and there are things in the fashion industry that are not glamorous at all.
Is your work in the fashion world also teaching you to be much more aware? Is it anyway something that Millennials are more prepared for, self-empowerment?
Yes, absolutely. There is a sentence that Andreja always repeats that says “building one’s own security is like building a house, brick by brick”. You can not expect everything to come in one go. I believe that my experiences in the fashion world have made me more confident, stronger. The nice and the bad is that however I also took a lot of waste, I had to deal with many people who slammed the door in my face because I was not pretty, or because they wanted to use me as a transgender token. It’s nice that I have such good agents, because if someone tries to use me they become ruthless.
You have been very critical of this theme, that of the “trans shares” in the fashion world and on the odds in general: a black model, a model agée, a trans…
I do not understand why many trans people working in fashion are only chosen for diversity campaigns. It is never a normal campaign. It’s important: because everyone is there to say “look, we’re using a trans”. This scares a lot brands, many do not want to work with you for media reactions, or to be told that you do it for a matter of trends. Today as today the judgment is immediate, moment by moment. We are at the same stage where black women were 10 years ago, but the same goes for the plus-size models. Now we’re coming back, clothes have to be fine with you and even if they’re fine with you, they still find a way to say no. It is important to tell the new generations that it is important to always be happy, it is important to be oneself. To explain the concept of diversity and uniqueness little accepted in the world of fashion, between an ounce of toast in eggs (this time cooked in the right place) and a sip of coffee, Maxim Magnus opens her Instagram and shows us a picture with Andreja of the evening of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards. Both were dressed by Pedro Lourenço and Maxim is enthusiastic about talking about him: “He chose me and Andreja for his new brand, Zilver, after two years off from the industry because he was furious. It is a genderless and sustainable luxury brand, beautiful, it goes against everything that industry wants from us, like femininity or classic beauty. Our message was beautiful at the time, we were ourselves ”
Which other designers would you like to work with?
This is difficult (laughs). Things have changed a bit since I’ve been working in fashion, but ever since I was young I’ve always wanted to work with Marc Jacobs. I would love to take part in one of his shows, I hope to do it. Right now I like Alexander Wang, he’s an absolute genius, whatever I create, I think “I want to put it”. I would also like to work with Dior, to change the pace. I love what Maria Grazia is doing (Chiuri ed), but it’s not for me. She takes a sip of coffee and understands that she needs to clarify the concept. “I’m a little angry with the whole issue of influencers, that’s why. I respect the people who work for this, but the messages are lost, they are lost in translation. Nowadays, the fashion shows are full of influencers: at Maria Grazia’s couture show for Dior was full. They are people who sit there and do not even watch the show, but they do it to be photographed and why it is important for the brand to be. It is a very sad thing. It’s fine that the industry is more democratic, more accessible to people, but those who really want to participate in a show to see it can not do it. For example, I like London, where designers like Christopher Kane and Erdem parade with whom I would love to work, and where on the runways there are people from the fashion world who are really interested in what you see “. She stretches out on the armchair and tells an anecdote: she took part in a fashion show filled with influencers and what struck her was that no one was enthusiastic about her clothes. “Why do you think they’re all dead? The clothes should excite you, they should give you happiness,” says Maxim, who admits, however, that she would not be so good at being a designer. Ideas are not lacking for her, however.
Our last question, we can not help but ask. What is femininity for you?
They often ask me, in fact. In my opinion it’s that makes sense to you, here. I lived my transition in private, but I was always very open about it. Anyone has always had an opinion about it. At the time I thought that if I wanted to be a woman, you have to do so and so, you have to be thin, have the breasts and long hair … Then I realized that I wanted to be myself: I like to show my skin, but “it’s not something that a lady would do”. The truth is that when I feel good, it is at that moment that I am more feminine than ever. I also really like make up, for example, I feel very feminine while I do it. I do not say that men should not wear makeup, I say that simply the process that leads you to see how you have pulled out that part of personality through makeup, or through clothes, is what makes you feel good. And if you feel good, what do you care about the rest?