Marking a revolution in modelling, Andreja Pejić came out as transgender in 2013, re-imagining the meaning of androgyny and featuring in leading global campaigns and covers – she’s now turned her head to the luxury hair realm as an ambassador for Kérastase, writes Cameron Pine.
Making a statement by going blonde from the young age of 14, Andreja’s affinity with hair is instinctively individual, aligning perfectly with the Kérastase mission – to be able to bring out the beauty in every client’s hair with the new Blond Absolu range.
Announced over an intimate white-washed lunch with hints of purple at Sydney’s chic La Porte Space, Andreja made a guest appearance for leading media while sharing an up-close and personal interview with L’Oréal Communications Manager, Christine Burke.
Shaking up the perceptions of beauty and empowering others to not feel alone, Andreja’s role in the modelling, beauty and fashion (and now acting) worlds feels like it is something she has achieved both intentionally and unintentionally.
“I have been fortunate to do a lot of interesting things and have met a lot of amazing people but I really did feel like I was misunderstood in a number of ways – people didn’t always know where to place me and how to react. I did at times feel like an outsider,” Andreja said.
In an exclusive interview with INSTYLE Andreja’s approachable nature and genuine personality truly came to the fore, making her arguably one of the most heartfelt and humble globally recognised models. Overcoming challenges and unnecessary labels from the media has been all part of her journey to acceptance and it’s the move into acting roles that has helped her focus on her own personal growth as a priority.
Andreja was initially widely recognised for modelling both masculine and feminine clothing, walking both men’s and women’s shows for ground breaking Jean Paul Gaultier. She then became the first transgender model profiled by VOGUE Italy in May 2015 as well as being the first trans woman to sign a cosmetics contract.
For Andreja, beauty starts on the inside. “If you haven’t worked on yourself and your insecurities to be a better person, it’s all for nothing. It’s important to work on both your internal and external beauty,” Andreja said.
“Empowerment to me is meditating and taking time away from talking to people who are unnecessary for my personality. I think in a lot of ways that we are living in a very shallow time – with a lack of ideas, vision and mental health issues. We need to ensure we look beyond the surface,” she said.
Moving to Melbourne at the age of five from Bosnia, Andreja’s mother had to sell canned food in the market and went through a lot of hardship just to be able to afford what she needed for her two children (including Igor, Andreja’s older brother). In a way, Andreja feels she was driven to be successful, not just from the unconditional love from her family but also because more than anything her mum made self-sacrifices for her children to come to Australia and be part of an upper to middle-class society and have a better life. Still very close to her mother, Andreja sat alongside her at lunch, sharing a very special bond built on strength, integrity and unconditional support.
“My blonde makes me feel confident and empowered to be uniquely myself. Sometimes blonde comes with a stereotype, as does beauty, however it is exciting to be living in a time where stereotypes are being broken down and we can embrace diversity,” Andreja said.
Andrea has also turned an eye to acting, having featured in last year’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web alongside Claire Foy and is continuing classes in London Giles Foreman Centre for Acting.
In May, Andreja is travelling to Georgia to work on an indie film until June and while New York is still home for the time being, she is thinking of making London home for the long run, finding confidence in that fact she feels it’s a bit more nurturing for creativity. “New York is a great place to achieve something and build a business but I’m exciting by the opportunities in London.”
Andreja admits one of her biggest challenges even still is to have the confidence to accept love when it’s given to her but she’s loving the confidence from her new fringe, saying it has made her ‘more observant’. “I used to look up to the sky in dreamland but my hair has made me more social and more able to express myself and my love,” she said.
“It’s a hard time to grow up in, in the modern day 21st century. I think a lot of us feel like there is something missing in our lives in the 21st century. While I feel that social media has connected the world – we are definitely being distracted from the issues – there is a lot of escapism from reality, but on the other hand it has the potential to inform us and raise our consciousness. Everyone should feel deserving of being loved,” she said.
In-line with her affiliation with Kérastase, Andreja’s values align perfectly with the #youdarewecare campaign launched in conjunction with Blond Absolu – embodying the modern confident woman. “#Youdarewecare is a celebration of individuality and Andreja not only brings this launch to life but also represents a new era for Kérastase. She embodies a modern, confident vision of beauty and I couldn’t be more proud to have her join the Kérastase family,” said Kérastase General Manager, Cara Riley.
As Andreja’s first alignment to a professional haircare brand, she says the campaign is very chic, as Kérastase always is, but it is also an equally beautiful product line that’s perfect for her dedication to blonde.
“I always wanted long hair but couldn’t always have it how I wanted, but with Kérastase it makes it more possible. As a brand they are now also in touch with the every changing culture and the shifting attitudes of young people.”
From VOGUE Italia and French VOGUE to shooting with Patrick Demarchelier, Andreja’s journey has been colourful and expansive and she’s happy to keep all this going even though she humbly admits, “It’s not an easy world to survive in.”
“From the beginning I’ve had to do shoots where we bring to life iconic characters. From icons she looks up to such as Greta Garbo, Shirley Temple, Bob Dylan and Dolly Parton to Andy Warhol, you have to learn not just their expressions but their energy – it requires a lot more emotional work and less about being pretty, but I like that.”
“The social messages and ideas we portray need to go deeper, often now commerciality and profitability make creativity suffer. We need to work on reviving culture and creativity that has really suffered over the last 20-30 years – young creative people need to be nurtured and inspired and given something to believe in,” Andreja said.
“I too can struggle with something that truly inspires me, it has to be something bigger than wanting to look good. Working with David Bowie on a music video back in London was one of the most memorable moments of my career and we are seeing more of this finally where how we are portrayed doesn’t need to be connected to sexuality or gender identity.”
Traditionally Andreja admits she has been more appealing to the European market in terms of work but that’s shifting and she loves coming home to Australia.
Looks like we are going to be seeing even more of this blonde beauty, from fashion to film to our own backyard down under, Andreja is undeniably one of the most approachable brand ambassadors you will ever meet.
For more information visit www.kerastase.com.au
Catch up with INSTYLE and Styleicons!