If someone made a venn diagram of Hollywood stars, the fashion community and passionate LGBTQ activists, the marquee names resting in the overlapping common space would probably make up the guest list at The Center gala dinner last night at Cipriani Wall Street. An eclectic mix of bold names, including Neil Patrick Harris, "Weeds" star Mary Louise Parker, Phillip Lim, Jenna Lyons, Lea "Big Boo" DeLaria from "Orange is the New Black" and model Devon Windsor, gathered to honor luminaries — award-winning "Transparent" star Jeffrey Tambor, among them — and to celebrate the The Center’s plan to open the first-ever substance abuse treatment program for LGBTQ youth.
Also on hand were the two most famous groundbreakers when it comes to transgender awareness: Emmy nominee and SAG Award winner Laverne Cox, as well model-turned-documentary film maker Andreja Pejic — both of whom walked the runway this past Fashion Month. Or, in the case of Cox, ecstatically spun around and whipped the crowd into a frenzy by going against catwalk etiquette during the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection show in New York.
"I was wearing Donna Karan that night and beforehand, I was thinking, 'I want to twirl,'" Cox told Fashionista on the red carpet. "My stylist and the people from Donna Karan were like, 'I don't think that's a good idea.' Then I just got out there and the music was amazing; I was walking, I had the chiffon and I just started twirling." Lesson learned: Cox knows what she's talking about, people. Given her first-hand fashion experience, the "Orange is the New Black" star also had suggestions on how the industry can further embrace diversity of all kinds.
"I think it starts with the designers having a vision that the people who wear their clothes and buy their accessories are not a monolithic group of people — they want to be represented and that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders," Cox said.
After completing gender reassignment surgery last year, Pejic made her debut on the Giles runway at London Fashion Week this past February as Andreja (formerly Andrej). But despite her pioneering work in representing transgender models, Pejic feels like the fashion world is "still evolving" when it comes to the embracing the cause.
"I think things are changing rapidly and it just falls into the sphere of diversity, doesn't it?" she said. "Obviously fashion is starting to reflect the world a lot more. I think the same point that you can make for racially diverse models is the same point you can make for transgender models. So although I would say we're a little bit behind, I think there's great potential now. I'm happy to be part of it."
To share her own experiences and further create transgender awareness, the Serbian-born, Australia-raised model is in the midst of making a documentary about her brave journey. She's still aiming for a 2016 release for the film and promises "some really exciting developments." Despite her busy endeavors, Pejic wants to continue modeling "for as long as I can," but, like fellow blonde Cara Delevingne, she's exploring the acting world, too — including a part in Sofia Coppola's upcoming "Little Mermaid." But Pejic's absolute dream role? "Something like Michelle Pfeiffer in 'Scarface.'" (Bangs and an '80s lob would totally work on her.)
As for Cox's next move, she recently traded in her orange Litchfield Penitentiary prison scrubs for tailored courtroom attire to play an Ivy League-educated transgender lawyer in the CBS pilot, "Doubt." "It was really different and weird to go to work in lovely suits," she said. "We wore a lot of Carolina Herrera, which is amazing. It was awesome." Hey, we'll take Laverne Cox in orange jumpsuits or designer suits — any way we can get her.