Linda Blacker was inspired to create an inclusive photoshoot after hearing discriminatory comments about transgender and plus-size models in the fashion industry.
Last year, Ed Razek, the former chief marketing officer of L Brands (which owns Victoria’s Secret), told Vogue he would never cast transgender or plus-size models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. “Why not? Because the show is a fantasy,” he said. “We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t.” (Razek later apologized for his comments and said in a statement that he would cast a transgender model in the show.)
Inspired by Razek’s initial remarks, London-based photographer and creative director, Linda Blacker decided to challenge the notion that transgender and plus-size people cannot “sell the fantasy” behind lingerie brands like Victoria’s Secret.
After the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was canceled this year, Blacker tells Shape she devised her own version of the show. “Representation is really important to me, and I’m truly passionate about creating imagery that’s empowering for all women,” shares the photographer. (Related: These Diverse Models Are Proof Fashion Photography Can Be Unretouched Glory)
In an Instagram post, Blacker wrote that she recruited a group of diverse models—her take on “angels”—to prove that lingerie is for all bodies. Much like the Victoria’s Secret models you’ve seen on the runway, the talent featured in Blacker’s project are dressed in stunning lingerie sets and giant angel wings. But the models themselves—Imogen Fox, Juno Dawson, Enam Asiama, Megan Jayne Crabbe, Vanessa Sison, and Netsai Tinaresse Dandajena—shatter the beauty standards often associated with Victoria’s Secret angels.
Juno Dawson, opened up about what the project meant to her as a transgender woman. “My relationship with my body has been ridiculously complex down the years. Transitioning isn’t a magic wand that suddenly makes you love your body. I got my gender right but have all the same hang-ups a lot of women do, so the notion of posing in lingerie was F***ING TERRIFYING,” she wrote on Instagram.
Dawson said she was initially so nervous about the shoot that she “very nearly called in sick.” But meeting everyone involved in the project alleviated her fears, she wrote in her post. “I realized my issues mostly stem from worrying that other people will judge my body,” she wrote. “I shouldn’t give them that power. My body is strong and healthy and a house for my heart and head.”