On a bright day in the Sky Room at the New Museum, Gogo Graham’s 19 models giggled in the back room, taking photos of each other, complimenting their respective looks, and joking about their “deceased husbands”. The intimate space with floor-to-ceiling windows created a very unique runway space, and underneath the banter was a profound excitement for their show.
Gogo Graham creates an extremely thoughtful and unique space, rooted in her identity as a transgender woman and desire to amplify trans women and gender non-conforming individuals. Her clothing isn’t made for mass consumption, rather it is as ephemeral as a runway. Occupying a platform and space at New York Fashion Week and choosing to center trans women, their beauty, their power, their diversity, and their narratives is not only a bold decision, but one that comes from and creates compassion and empathy.
Most noteworthy was the soundtrack and the finale of the show, which amplified the ceremonial nature of her trans brides’ weddings. After the models walked down the runway, it was time for the show stopper, performance artist Leah James. Wearing a pink, extravagant wedding dress unlike any of the other models, she had pinned her veil to her forehead with needles she performs with. Removing the needles as she inches across the runway, blood dripped down her face while the soundtrack echoed “I love you,” as if the reciter was crying while saying it. This painful call of love sat with the room, the sun began to descend, and the remnants of Gogo Graham’s show demanded reflection around trans womanhood, love, and light.
Review and photography by Sarah Zarina Hakani @sarah.zarina