There’s quite a story behind 21-year-old transgender model Valentijn de Hingh. Discovered as an eight-year-old boy by Dutch filmmaker Hetty Niesch, de Hingh was filmed from then until seventeen in what was originally part of a small piece on transgender youth but which became a longer (nine year!) documentary when the director decided to focus solely on her growth and development. The film debuted on Dutch television in 2007. De Hingh, who had gender reassignment surgery just before the release, was “very happy” with its success and how well it portrayed the trials and decisions that transgender youth face.
One day, her angular features and willowy frame earned the attention of a modeling scout while she was shopping in Amsterdam and she soon made her runway debut in the Spring 2008 shows, walking for Maison Martin Margiela and Comme des Garçons. However, when she shot up from her then-height of 5’9″ to 6’1″, agencies deemed her too tall for runway and the bookings stopped. She instead enrolled in the University of Amsterdam to study literature science, hoping to pursue a career in fashion journalism.
Now though, she may have another chance at her original path. While working as an assistant booker in an Amsterdam modeling agency, de Hingh noticed a rise in transgender models and decided to put herself out there again. She eventually landed a Love magazine spread with Patrick Demarchelier and is now reportedly in the process of shooting for several magazines, including Candy. Though de Hingh did technically break onto the scene before fellow transgender model Lea T., it is their newfound popularity that has likely renewed her chances. The modeling game is changing; it’s less exclusive and monotonous than it became after the fall of the supermodel, when models began to look like cookies cut from the exact same blonde, Eastern European mold. De Hingh’s return to the spotlight is a definite indication that this shift is no fleeting fad and that at least some photographers and stylists are starting to recognize the photogenic nature of these unique individuals.
Vogue Italia, on a role lately with boundary-pushing features, filmed a short clip of the model shopping in Amsterdam and discussing her history, hopes and inspirations. In it, she cites fellow eccentrics Isabella Blow and Alexander McQueen as a style influences. Check this slideshow of her recent and past work–quite the force to be reckoned with, don’t you agree? Hopefully she won’t meet any of the censorship problems encountered by her colleagues.
All images via Vogue Italia