Trending right now: Caitlyn Jenner, the 6 Pack Band and Lili Elbe.
From Bruce Jenner openly and bravely transitioning to Caitlyn Jenner to India welcoming our first transgender band, the 6 Pack Band- guys, it’s time to meet the transgeneration! Campaigning for transgender rights, these women are beacons of hope and encouragement for the so-called third gender. A bold move, a big step and a bravo deserved. Also deserving is Lili Elbe, a pioneer of sex reassignment surgery and one of the world’s first known transgender women. Portrayed by the uber talented (and hot) Eddie Redmanye in his latest blockbuster, The Danish Girl, the movie tells a story about love, compassion and bravery, which follows Lili’s beautiful transition from man to woman.
Set in the roaring twenties, the film is loosely based on the true story of Danish painters Lili Elbe formerly known as Einar Wegener and his wife Gerda Wegener. While story telling is everything, this movie heavily relied on its costumes to narrate Lili’s story. Aesthetically depicted, Lili’s transformation was delicately handled by costumer designer Paco Delgado. Influenced by Parisian style and the avant garde fashion of the 1920s, Delgado took cue from the era’s most influential designers from Paul Poiret’s relaxed silhouettes like the flapper and shift dress to Lanvin’s robe de style that emphasized slightly on theatrical tastes, while for Gerda, he reinterpreted her ensembles based on Coco Chanel’s liberated style.
The 1920s was a time when waistlines were ditched and hemlines became shorter. It was also the first time the fashion world started accepting androgynous style, from women wearing palazzo pants and shirts, to adopting jersey-made clothing. The gender bending style also welcomed bobs, garconne frocks and suppressed busts, defining a revolutionary moment in fashion.
Delgado, also referenced Gerda’s paintings and photographs, translating it into costumes used in some scenes of the movie and to narrate Lili’s urge to play dress up. For Einar’s role, Delgado used high stiff collars, a monochrome palette and heavy fabrics, which gently loosen up into lighter and colourful ensembles during his transition to Lili. Through the evolution you also see Lili’s experimentation with makeup; from coiffed hair to bright bold lips, she gradually finds herself portraying a slightly au natural look.
Breaking norms, adopting gender and braving society, one can’t help but acknowledge the power of dressing. While we might be applauding Jaden Smith’s LV campaign and Ranveer Singh’s gender-bending skirt, it’s the beauty of Lili’s free-spirited sartorial transformation that makes one note that clothing truly is a form of true-self expression. Even if a ballerina’s dress is all it takes.