Andrej Pejic: He’s poster boy for men’s and women’s fashion
To say he has the best of both worlds is rather apt.
Andrej Pejic has made a name in the fashion world as one who can model both male and female clothing - thanks to his unique androgynous looks.
The Bosnian-Australian poster boy for fashion androgyny is in town for Digital Fashion Week, which started on Saturday.
He is walking for local designers Eugene Lin and Pauline.Ning.
The 21-year-old flaxen haired model never failed to be amused by the public’s reactions, even though he has been in the limelight for four years.
For instance, he was amazed by the warm reception showered on him when he visited China in July, a country where cross-dressing is still taboo.
After he took to the runway at the Jean Paul Gaultier fashion show in Beijing, around 100 Chinese teens lined up just to meet him.
“It was insane, these kids came from all over China just to see me,” Pejic told The New Paper recently.
“They brought me all these oriental presents like chopsticks for my hair, little mirrors, fans, flowers and they conversed with me in broken English.”
To him, such a welcome in China was validation that people there were comfortable with him appearing as he really is.
He added: “As a model, you don’t expect that kind of fan base (in China) but I’ve been lucky to be well received in conservative markets such as Turkey as well.”
Undeniably, his path to fame wasn’t as easy as strutting down the runway.
As a child, he had found it extremely difficult to behave like a boy as he preferred playing with Barbie dolls and dressing up in his mother’s clothes.
Pejic, who moved to Melbourne when he was eight years old, said that modelling, singing or acting weren’t career choices for him as a teen as his mother wanted him to go downthe academic route.
But once scouts recognised his high fashion appeal and started knocking on his door when he was 17, there was no turning back.
On his difficult childhood, the soft-spoken model said: “Looking like this was never about getting attention.
“It was about me feeling comfortable with myself and about the feelings I had inside. I was always quiet and soft.” Pejic, eyes glistening with tears, didn’t elaborate further.
Pejic has since modelled both men’s and women’s fashion to great success.
Not only has he done bridal couture, he had also fronted Dutch department store Hema’s campaign for push-up bras.
The Mega Push-Up Bra - touted to boost the bust by two cup sizes - sold out on-line within an hour after his advertisements were released.
To think that when he was scouted to be a model at 17, he was told that he was “very limited” and wouldn’t make much money modelling only high fashion.
Pejic said about his bra commercial: “This is the first time that I’m wearing a bra, it’s not the most comfortable thing.
“I’ve never had to wear one (before), it’s not necessary for women’s wear, you don’t need boobs to be a female model for that matter.
“It felt good to do something so commercial and have it be a success.”
The gorgeous blonde added that he loved the bridal shoot as it felt “like my wedding, the catwalk was the aisle and at the end I was going to marry fashion”.
Pejic said that his fashion sense leans more towards fitted, feminine styles even when he’s not working.
“Men used to pick me up (before he was famous) but I didn’t feel the need to say anything right away as it was strange to talk about your gender right after meeting someone.
“When they find out from a friend (that he’s actually a man), everyone is surprised and shocked but they still buy me a drink.”
Pejic added that he had inherited his mother’s beautiful features and dewy skin.
His proud mum, who raised him single-handedly, keeps up to date with his success on the runways through his on-line fan pages.
Pejic, who is based in New York, flies to Melbourne to spend time with her two to three times a year.
Despite being featured in high profile magazines, Pejic acknowledged that the fashion industry is still a fickle one.
Often, he has had to endure disappointment due to last minute job cancellations.
He revealed that he had come close to helming huge campaigns only to be told at the last minute that they were going to hire someone else.
“The toughest thing is the uncertainty, you have no idea when your next job is going to be.
“A lot of creative people want to hire me but they will be stopped in their tracks by the finance people.
“Obviously it’s a business, it’s about selling clothes, perfumes and cosmetics so a lot of market research goes into this.
“To use me (is to foray into an untested market) so sometimes they don’t want to take the risk but I’ve proven that I can be a commercial success,” he said.
Pejic maintains his good looks by avoiding the sun, not smoking and using a lot of antioxidant products for his skin.
On his maiden trip to Singapore, the 1.87m-tall stunner said he is looking forward to trying our fried noodles and nasi goreng.
“I want to go to the island with all the bars (Sentosa), is it far away? Also the hotel with the ship on it (Marina Bay Sands).”
On Singaporean men, he said with a smile: “The people here are good-looking in general but I think they are a little short for me.
“I love that Singapore is so modern and it’s by the sea.”