« Icône du changement », le mannequin trans Hari Nef en couverture du « ELLE » britannique (VIDEO)

« Icône du changement », le mannequin trans Hari Nef en couverture du « ELLE » britannique (VIDEO)

>> Meet Hari Nef: actor, model – and Elle’s first transgender cover girl in UK


Hari Nef, mannequin et actrice, que l’on a pu voir notamment dans la deuxième saison de la série « Transparent » de Jill Soloway sur Amazon, est désormais la première femme transgenre à camper la couverture de l’édition britannique du magazine « ELLE ». Un numéro de septembre « à choix multiple », partagé avec Kristen Stewart (star de Twilight), Zayn Malik (l’ex-membre des One Direction) ou encore Amandla Stenberg (Hunger Games), et dédié pour l’occasion à « l’ascension des rebelles », qui refusent de se conformer aux notions traditionnelles, selon les éditeurs.

Hari Nef est une icône. Elle est belle, intelligente, réfléchie et « incarne tout ce qui change dans le monde actuellement », a indiqué au The Guardian l’éditrice en chef, Lorraine Candy, qui annonce « une nouvelle ère dans la mode » : « Elle combine l’androgynie élégante d’une vedette française des sixties, avec le regard “paupières lourdes” d’une Star de l’ère du muet. »



Originaire du Massachussetts, la jeune femme de 23 ans était déjà le premier mannequin trans à avoir signé en 2015 avec IMG Models, l’une des agences US les plus en Vogue. Elle s’est depuis imposée sur les « catwalks », en défilant cette année pour la maison Gucci à Milan ou les Studios H&M lors de la Fashion Week de Paris. Elle a aussi été plébiscitée par le maroquinier Mansur Gavriel pour présenter les dernières créations de la jeune griffe new-yorkaise, et tient un rôle récurent dans la très innovante et transgénérationnelle série « Transparent ».



Militante au National Center for Transgender Equality, elle revient également dans l’interview sur son enfance, évoquant l’obsession de la société sur les questions de genre, et sa transition entamée à New York pendant ses études d’art dramatique à l’Université de Columbia, dont elle est diplômée.

« Dès l’adolescence, je me suis habillée comme je le souhaitais malgré les frictions avec mon entourage et ma famille », avant d’envisager une chirurgie de réassignation sexuelle… Mais « dans un monde idéal, je n’aurais pas eu besoin d’avoir à changer mon corps, ni d’ailleurs être belle ou plus féminine », conclut-elle.

Autre surprise également dans cette édition de septembre en kiosque le 3 août, les confessions amoureuses de Kristen Stewart, heureuse aux côtés Alicia Cargile.

Valentine Monceau


>> When they decided to print special collectors’ covers for the magazine’s September issue, all about « icons of change”, the publishers of Elle knew immediately who the stars should be: the actors Kristen Stewart and Amandla Stenberg, both of whom have made headlines for their refusal to conform to traditional notions of sexuality; the singer Zayn Malik, who walked away from One Direction, the biggest pop band in the world, at the height of its fame; and the transgender model Hari Nef.

Le mannequin trans Hari Nef en couverture du « ELLE » britannique - une nouvelle ère dans la modeNef’s cover is arguably the most radical of the four. It marks the first time a transgender woman has been on the cover of a major commercial British magazine. But beyond that it showcases 23-year-old Nef’s striking, singular beauty, the way in which she combines the stylish androgyny of a 60s French starlet with the heavy-lidded gaze of a silent-era movie star.

« I’d seen Hari walk the catwalk for Gucci and she seemed to highlight everything that is changing about the world right now, » said Lorraine Candy, editor-in-chief of Elle UK, adding that the magazine also employs a transgender woman as a columnist, Rhyannon Styles, who writes about her experiences as she transitions.

« Rhyannon’s pieces have really resonated with our readers. We also knew that with this issue we wanted to reflect what those readers, many of whom are millennials, are talking about, and needed cover stars who defined this changing world. Zayn is significant because of what he chose to leave and why. Kristen is very authentic and honest … when it came to picking a model for the issue, Hari felt absolutely right. »

The cover and the thoughtful interview inside celebrate Nef’s talent as a model and an actor, rather than concentrating on her transition.

« Hari defines the change that’s happening in the world right now but also she fits into a specific fashion moment, the way in which Alessandro Michele [creative director at Gucci] is making clothes that are all about personality, » says Candy. « She’s intelligent and thoughtful, and understands and loves fashion and beauty. She’s not defined by any one thing. »

Nef’s rise through the fashion ranks has been swift. She was raised in the well-to-do suburbs of Newton, Massachusetts; her father worked in PR and her mother in sales. They divorced when she was two. In the Elle interview she describes herself as part of a group of « effeminate folks who are assigned male at birth » and says she always felt herself to be female. As a teenager she began to express that more clearly. « I wanted to wear certain clothes and couldn’t, » she explains. « I sort of did it anyway, but there was always a friction with my peers and a mother who was less close-minded than worried. »

She began her transition on moving to New York to study drama at Columbia University and was snapped up by super-agency IMG on graduation, the first trans model to sign with them. In demand for magazines and on the catwalk, she had a starring role in Selfridges’ recent campaign for its pop-up store Agender, which showcased genderless clothes for men and women, and has appeared in campaigns for everyone from the Swedish brand & Other Stories to the handbag company Mansur Gavriel.

« I could have hidden in Boston and lived at home for three years, gone through my transition, taken voice lessons to make my voice more feminine, gotten gender reassignment surgery and spent time to complete my transition but I didn’t want to wait, » she told US Vogue last year. « I wanted to be in the world. »

Her first love, acting, has led to a role in the second series of the critically acclaimed Transparent. She has been vocal about the problems faced by trans actors, telling Paper magazine: « There are no trans roles, and if there are they go to Jared Leto or Eddie Redmayne or Elle Fanning … Will there ever come a point where I could play a woman in a realistic, naturalistic drama and have there not be the word ‘trans’ in the script? »

Her refusal to simply smile prettily as she is snapped is a large part of her charm. She told Vogue that her career « was more than a job to me. It is political”. A link from her Twitter account leads to the National Center for Transgender Equality, and she has frequently talked about the contrast between her stable, liberal upbringing and the pressures faced by black transgender women, who are disproportionately likely to be murdered (of 22 transgender women murdered in 2015, 19 were black women).

« I’m handed opportunities in 2015 as a white trans woman, nine have been slain in the US in 2015 because they are trans women of colour, » she tweeted last summer. « There’s a violent and blatant discrepancy between the way white trans women and trans women of colour are treated in the United States. »

She is equally outspoken about society’s obsession with gender constructs and labelling. In the Elle interview she states: « In an ideal world I wouldn’t have to change my body. I wouldn’t have to do all this stuff. I wouldn’t have to be pretty or ‘feminine’. »

In a 2015 talk for conference organisers Ted, entitled « Free the Femme: The Aesthetics of Survival”, she was more explicit, citing the dangers trans women regularly find themselves in and stating: « It’s time for the aesthetics of upwardly mobile feminist respectability to make room for the aesthetics of survival, particularly trans survival. »