Male Models: The Female of the Species

Casey Legler is a woman working as a male model. She looks wonderfully comfortable shrugging into tailored suits and chomping on cigars. But assigning words to the experience isn’t as easy

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Casey Legler is a woman working as a male model. She looks wonderfully comfortable shrugging into tailored suits and chomping on cigars. But assigning words to the experience isn’t as easy. In an interview in her New York City studio, Legler steers around phrases like “gender identity” and “gender expression” in favor of having a conversation about freedom.

“I understand signifiers. We’re social creatures and we have a physical language of communicating with each other,” she says. “But it would be a really beautiful thing if we could all just wear what we wanted, without it meaning something.”

Androgyny has long been celebrated in the fashion world. Women have modeled as men, and men have modeled as women. Andrej Pejica young male model from Bosnia, made a splash in recent years with his feminine beauty and knack for wearing women’s clothes. (“Andrej is gorgeous,” Legler says. “In many ways, I come ushered in by that.”) But it’s still rare — if not unheard of — for a woman to sign a contract to model men’s clothing exclusively.

Legler landed the modeling gig this summer when her friend, the photographer Cass Bird, invited her at the last minute to participate in the role of a man for a photo shoot for Muse magazine. The photos were shared with an agent at Ford Models, and the next day, Legler was invited to sign a contract to work exclusively from their male roster.

“This is a unique little moment that fashion is allowing to have happen,” Legler says.

Her own relationship with fashion has always been complex. At age 13, she had already almost reached her full height (6 ft. 2 in.) and began swimming competitively in her home country of France.

“It really was just something that I happened to be good at,” Legler says. “My fantasy was always to be able to sit by the pool deck, preferably in a pink tutu, reading a book.”

When she qualified for the Olympic Games in Atlanta at age 18, Legler got together with some of her male teammates and shaved her head, eager to experience the feeling they described of swimming with a bald head.

“That was the beginning,” Legler says. “It was always one of those things: ‘These people get to do it, I really want to do it — why can’t I?’”

After the Olympics, Legler flirted with more traditional paths before coming into her own as an artist. She now works in several media, meditating on themes like time, ritual, mythology and the body. She often appears in her own pieces, using her physicality and movement as part of the work. While her entry into modeling was swift and surprising, she is eager to emphasize that becoming a male model is a natural extension of her art. It also helps that she has forged friendships in the art world, including with photographers like Bird and Ryan McGinley.

“I have a body of work. I don’t think that anyone looking at that body of work and then seeing me as a model would see it as any kind of a stretch,” Legler says. “It implies something interesting. I am not the artmaker in those cases. I get to participate with other artmakers as part of their palette.”

As for being on the men’s roster, Legler says that working as a peer with other male models has been nothing but positive. She looks forward to walking in shows in Paris in January and New York in February, and to following wherever this new role takes her.

“I wish a long and slow career for myself,” Legler says. “For everyone.”


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Except that this article also cited an example of a man who very capably models women's clothing as well. Any transgender friends I have would celebrate this as a movement towards the fluidity of gender, and acknowledment of the fact that clothes and genders don't define us - we are free to work in whatever frame of mind or fashion we desire...


Why set limits on what any one person can/should identify as? Kai, you of all people should understand that. She is fabulous.


@KaiDrawwater I can't believe you would even contemplate leaving such an unbelievably sexist comment. As somebody who has lived as a transman for many many years, I want to say that this comment is given trans people a terrible name. The definition of sexism is people not being allowed to do something because of their sex. That includes people saying you shouldn't live as male although that's not the gender you were assigned at birth. That also includes you saying that women should have their opportunities limited just so you can pass more easily. That is not what the fight for gender equality is about, and with your oppressive attitude you will never get anywhere. True gender equality will be people can just say what gender they are and have people respect that. That will not be achieved by saying women should not be allowed to do everything a man could do. Reality check, if we lived in a proper sexist society where women COULDN'T do everything a man can do, it would be pretty blo*dy hard for you to express yourself as your true identity.


Just like you inadvertently step into the weird part of youtube videos, just realized I strayed too far on Time. Getting the bleep outta here, now!


She seems cool but haven't you heard of ERIKA LINDER. Who shot with Andrej Pejic (and even had a romance with him)?I, personally, thinks Erika Linder is SO MUCH hotter than Casey. Plus - I think Casey is mid 30s now and unfort that's a bit too old if you ask me. Erika Linder was put up on Men's Division WAY before Casey and has done WAY more editorials as a man and is quite famous so far.. Erika is more than 10 years younger than Casey is and looks so sexy and handsome as a boy and strikingly beautiful as a girl. It's pretty amazing and fun to see how she can be so high fashion and work bot soooo well.

ERIKA LINDER, you guys... Check her out. More interesting.


casey legler is obviously a beautiful body&soul and this article makes me smile but i still ask myself: why does she work as a "male" model or w h y is this significant, if the whole idea of being allowed to do whatever one pleases (freedom) can inspire to find more open concepts rather than put allegedly "new" things (her) in old constrained boxes of thinking (gender binary: female/male). why is this better than modeling as a "female"? what exactly makes the proud moment in being listed in the ford men section? what is the subversive aspect of this unique moment? i couldn.t quite make out what the argument in favor for such a trend was.. and i don.t see it (yet). why not work as a "female" model, since the labels are inaccurate anyway? as she states herself, legler considers herself a woman (sec.38-sec.44) and as i understood working as a male model is an act and a little "weird". i guess, i don.t understand how modeling under the "male" label is helping fluidity of gender expression. hmmh, maybe i just don.t get it... anyway, i guess this article allows for nice discussions to develop. thank you.


Amazing! and inspirational that gender expression is just that, an expression. 


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