Gender. It’s an errotic term the world is slowly but surely beginning to accept as neutral. Much has changed since the early 1800s where men were designed to provide and protect and the women to be feminine and ladylike. Then, there were no gray areas or room for flexibility. Everything was meant to be black and white – a man, a woman, a boy, a girl and nothing in between.
But things are different now. Much different. As the second week of 2016 zooms past, gender fluidity and the reality of being transgender has become an ever-changing and deeply evolving lifestyle; made public by Barack Obama’s success in legalizing gay marriage and most surprisingly, the debut of Caitlyn Jenner.
LGBT communities worldwide are most proud of the progress made, especially Leni Bolt. The young designer and proud transgender has expressed his passion for this rule-breaking movement far before Louis Vuitton’s groundbreaking womenswear collection featuring Jaden Smith. Through his graphic and daring designs, he redefines what gender means… and he’s just getting started.
You created your first collection at Berlin Fashion Week when you were only 16. How did that feel?
It was such a blast for me to jump into Berlin’s fashion scene so quickly. But you know, people still treated me like a child. I’m still a young person but I learned a lot in the past three years through my studies. The skills I have learned from design school have been so beneficial in helping me develop this project that I am truly entwined in.
Tell me a bit about your childhood and journey into becoming a unisex designer…
I loved to play with Barbie dolls and danced ballet as a child. Such a cliché! But on the other hand, I was a big fan of Hot Wheels and “boyish” stuff like that. I remember how great it felt to shoot the gangsters in the James Bond videogame. Actually, I felt more like Catwoman in that moment, but unfortunately, I could not choose her. Anyway, you see my roots are kind of mixed. My gender fluid or unisex aesthetic has always been part of my personal development and luckily, I nurtured it rather than hide it away.
Street wear or high fashion?
I’m a street wear designer, but I’m heavily influenced by the extravagant looks that high-end designers are sending down the runway. I like to mix things, to serve a good smoothie.
SO, what exactly does BOYGURL mean?
I started the BOYGURL brand as one continuous project with an ever evolving narrative; and it’s more than just making clothes. I want the BOYGURL boy or girl to let loose from any restrictions – these restrictions vary from discovering or experimenting [with] their gender identity down to feeling brave enough to wear odd socks as a fashion statement. It is all about freedom of expression and I believe everybody should be allowed to express themselves in the way that makes them happy.
Why do you feel inspired by Caitlyn Jenner? She is certainly not the first transgender and she won’t be the last. Why her?
Recently, I worked with New York’s very own artist, Macy Rodman, who just started her transition. I know many people from the community, but why Caitlyn is distinguished from other transgender individuals, is that she already such a public figurehead with such a preconceived public image of what we deemed to be the epitome of masculine before she started her transition. It claims a lot of courage to make it public and to educate so many people out there that being transgender is not just a straightforward issue but affects so many different people from varied backgrounds.Her strength inspires me.
If you had to choose a BOYGURL muse, who would it be?
Let’s talk social media…
Social Media is a great opportunity to have a voice and to show your work to the world. Follow me, if you want to get overwhelmed with carefully posed kawaii selfies, haha.
You’re pretty obsessed with the “kawaii” Japanese culture…
I’ve always been a big fan of Sailor Moon and Japanese youth culture in general. But Berlin is not so much Kawaii at the moment. Especially in winter, the city is so grey and has a totally different colour palette compared to what you think of when you think kawaii ( another reason why I escaped to Tel Aviv). As soon as I’m back in Berlin, I will go on with throwing kawaii glitter on the streets of Kreuzberg.
What made you move to Tel Aviv?
Basically, I wanted to explore a new culture and…Okay that’s a lie! I knew that I would not survive another snow storm in Germany. I’ve already met amazing gender-bending individuals here, like Nona Chalant. The nightlife is fun, and the people are sexy. Do I need anything else?
Other than in fashion, what other gender barricades are on your radar?
I want to familiarise people with gender-nonconformity and gender fluidity and to break through the societal stereotyping of transgender and gender fluid people. This even comes down to going to a public toilet without confusing people. Why the confusion? Why even ask themselves the question? Sometimes it can be fun, but not on a daily basis. It’s 2015 honey free yourself and join the BOYGURL family!