Acne Is Sweet for Trans
The world has hardly had time to tear the plastic wrap off Madrid-based Luis Venegas’s Candy, billed as, “the first fashion magazine ever completely dedicated to celebrating transvestism, transexuality, cross dressing and androgyny, in all its manifestations” (number two of this annual comes out in October), but already he and Acne designer Johnny Johansson have teamed to create a transvestite, transgender, and cross-dressing Acne collection set to hit stores next month.
The question is, what could a specifically tranny collection offer that you can’t already find at your local Salvation Army? Plenty, according to Venegas. When the Acne design team proposed, the editor designed three pieces available in bleached and stone washed denim and silk, all based on a classic western shirt with playful details and proportions. Inspired by 80s mega-soap Dynasty (Venegas’s favorite TV series), there’s a dramatic bow neck style called “Alexis,” a tribute to Joan Collins’ role in the series, a big-sleeved blouse called “Krystle” in homage to Linda Evans, and a frivolous look with ruffled neck and wrists called “Sammy Jo,” inspired by Heather Locklear. “I didn’t want this to be ‘unisex,’ in fact, I wanted exactly the opposite. I wanted to create a bit of gender confusion. Instead of the usual unisex statement ‘for men and women,’ I want people to ask: ‘is this for men, or women?’ Well, this is for all the many types of men and women worldwide in the 21st century. It’s tranny shirts for everybody, something relevant and open-minded.”
For Johansson, Venegas is a revelation. “His energy reminds me of the energy we all had when we started Acne so to work with him felt natural from the start.” Acne’s founder says he’s always found ideas “paying on the tension between male and female and what happens when you shift things around a bit.”
Venegas, 31, is the one-man publishing band responsible for launching some of the most provocative style titles in the aughts, beginning with Fanzine 137, his biannual art, image and fashion portfolio in 2004 which he describes as “a kind of best-kept secret for insiders,” followed by Electric Youth! or EY! in 2007, a “megateen” read for post-adolescents feeling a bit of confusion after seeing the latest Justin Bieber concert.
Candy‘s second issue comes out next month, and Acne and Venegas are planning a celebration for Paris fashion week. Thomas Persson, editor-in-chief of Acne Paper, met Venegas in the Jardin du Luxembourg and “from then on we called each other ‘sisters,'” he recalls. Venegas, who is a kind of “idiot savant” with regard to the history of fashion spreads and art direction, did Acne Paper‘s story on Juan Gatti, the art director famous for his titles on Pedro Almodovar’s films.
Persson’s current tranny crush is Charly Nelly “a beautiful French young man who Andreas Larsson and I shot in vintage haute couture for the new issue of Candy.” Weighing in at 320 pages, the next issue is “like Pop magazine with twenty times less money and less ads,” says Venegas. That said, Comme des Garçons, Lanvin Homme and Calvin Klein Homme took the plunge, proof that fashion does have its mavericks. With shoots from Bruce Weber, Ellen Von Unwerth, and the inimitable Jerry “Puzzle of a Downfall Child” Schatzberg, Candy is more like a book than a magazine. Venegas even secured some old shots by Steven Meisel of Hamish Bowles, whose personal collection of couture is renowned. And he’s particularly proud of working with photographer Barry Lategan, 75, known for his iconic portrait of Twiggy, who he shot in all her freckled, painted eyelash and bobbed glory, at age 16. There’s also an interview with Amanda Lepore by New York’s Lady Fag.
Despite his demure, Nordic boy next door demeanour, Acne Paper‘s Persson is no stranger to the high heeled life. His earliest professional experience includes running a club night in Oslo called The Doris Love Club. “My hostess name was Mrs. Bambino and apart from an enormous blond wig I dressed in as little as possible.”