Rain first started modeling just a year ago. She was signed professionally this past January - only a week before spring NYFW, showcasing fall and winter looks. She said that she had a "most brutal crash course in high heels." Having grown up on a small farm in Vermont, Rain tended to sway more on the side of practical versus cool. Hand-me downs were more common than mall brands such as American Eagle.
I asked if Rain was staying at the Gem Hotel. Her Facebook has featured posts promoting LGBTQ activism and awareness. The Gem is very active in the LGBTQ scene, sponsoring events like AIDS Walk New York and NewFest, the New York LGBT Film Festival. They train all employees in a sensitivity program, and have a zero-discrimination policy. After learning this, it only makes my stay there taste so much sweeter! Learn more about the Gem and these details HERE. Rain was not actually staying in the Gem hotel at the same time we were, but lives next door and loves the area because it's "full of fashion warehouses, quirky artist den suites, and caves of activism..." There is a shelter on the corner that provides assistance to LGBTQ youth, and Rain has just signed up to volunteer. Metropolitan Community Church of New York (MCCNY) provides "social services for the homeless and the hungry, including people living with HIV/AIDS, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) youth, and building a sense of community, MCCNY Charities, Inc. furthers the broader mission of MCCNY in bringing the world to just and right relationship." Rain can't wait to get started, and says that the shelter needs ample exposure. I am sure that having a supermodel come to volunteer will help!
Because of Rain's obvious gender-bending appearance, I knew she would be often "boxed." This term, and my use of it, originate from the young adult fiction novel What Happened to Lani Garver. I asked Rain if she has heard of it, but she hasn't. The book's namesake character, Lani, lands on the scene in a closely-knit community that is not welcoming of uncomfortable topics, especially the mystique surrounding Lani and Lani's gender. The book, and its delving into identity, self-expression, and teenage crises really had a profound effect on me. I have never forgotten Lani's rejection of putting people into boxes. You do not have to be anything at all. You can be everything you want. I believe that Rain exemplifies this. We can be whoever we want to be.
Which is exactly what Rain pulled off this SS15 season of NYFW. As I mentioned before, Rain walked in both female and male presentations at the Art Institutes show. I told her I was watching recaps of the runways, and she replied swiftly that she dislikes watching her own shows. The Art Institutes show was no exception, particularly the sheer, blue dress that she walked in. She said she felt "like a puppy on a wax floor" and that her heels couldn't grip at all while walking. I apologized and admitted to noticing, but said I figured it must have been because they had given her shoes too small or something of the sort. She responded by saying that shows don't have any mercy on the models' feet. I bet so!
A few highlights of Rain's week regarding gender-bending include walking in Malan Breton's SS15 show, and modeling in Rochambeau's SS15 presentation. In a post on Facebook, Rain stated that Breton was even referring to her in male pronouns, but the team then encouraged her to something "a little different" during her walk. In the video recap, I think her suddenly softened expression and smile speak more volumes than her unusual end-of-runway pose. The change from hard to soft is what jumps out. And I would have loved to been a mind-reader for the audience. For Rochambeau, absolutely no attention was brought to her being female, and she participated in the presentation smoothly as male. However, I discovered on the Milk Made website that an air of "ambisexuality" was detected at the Rochambeau show. Rain, do you think you helped contribute to that?!
Rain's week was diverse in more ways than just her gender-bending walking roles. For Chromat, Rain walked alongside models of all colors and sizes. Rain also found herself caught in the heart of a protest regarding designer Victor de Souza's choice to initially showcase his models in horse-drawn carriages. Animal rights activists can be a little crazy, and from Rain's account on her blog, they could be downright rude and demeaning. I simply don't understand that - you come to protest the use of horse-drawn carriages in New York, and instead you scream at another woman that she's "ugly?" Have mercy, y'all. Calm down, especially the people that are sending Rain death threats via email. You have better things to be doing. Rain visited the stables this past week to investigate, and I am waiting to see what she has to say about the experience.
And dear Rain, I cannot thank you enough for letting me ask you dozens of silly questions and crack jokes together late into the night yesterday. You are a jewel. I am so glad to have met you, and I am looking forward to seeing where your career takes you! I am crossing my fingers that we might bump into one another during my next attendance at NYFW.
You may find Rain online at:
Model Mayhem: www.modelmayhem.com/3176558www.modelmayhem.com/3176558
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Below, I have compiled links to Rain's appearances in the shows that I know that she walked in. The 00:00 represents that time that she enters the video footage.
Malan Breton, 20:00