teddy quinlivan and hanne gaby odiele’s manifesto of hope
As Maison Margiela announces its new fragrance, Mutiny, we meet two of the faces of its radical campaign.
Teddy Quinlivan and Hanne Gaby Odiele are two models at the forefront of the new beauty revolution. i-D cover stars and catwalk renegades, the pair have captured the fashion industry’s imagination, and spoken candidly about their own gender identities in a way few before them have.
In conversation with i-D earlier in the year, Teddy discussed the discrimination she experienced from a young age, realizing the body she was born with did not reflect the person she was inside. “Growing up and being told I had to be masculine to fit into a body that was completely based off of one organ that I never chose was really challenging. I knew I was a girl, and I knew that from a very young age, and through fashion I was able to transform into the woman I always felt I was inside.”
For the same issue of i-D, Hanne discussed the confidence she’d found in fashion, having been born intersex in a world where such a gender was rarely discussed. “I was born with sex characteristics that aren’t typically male or female. The doctors found it pretty early and I had some very intrusive surgeries, but it was kept from me until I was 17. When I found out, it was also around the time that I began modeling. Modeling really gave me a sense of empowerment.”
Given all this, it makes perfect sense for the pair to be involved in a new campaign with rebellion at its core. Enlisted by John Galliano to front Maison Margiela’s new fragrance, Mutiny, they join Willow Smith, Molly Bair, Sasha Lane, and Princess Nokia in celebrating the power of speaking out, standing up, and making change. With imagery shot by Craig McDean, and accompanying videos by Fabien Baron, the six innovators discuss what their “mutiny” is and offer a manifesto of hope, possibility and change.
Mutiny is the first fragrance developed by Galliano since joining Margiela in 2014, and was created with the help of legendary French perfumer Dominique Ropion. Embodying the codes of the house that he’s so deftly interpreted, at the heart of Mutiny is the artisanal décortiqué technique found in each of his collections. A multi-faceted, expansive scent that cannot pinned down to one person, place or time.
What does Margiela mean to you?
Hanne: Margiela is very authentic. It's unique more. It’s kind of mysterious, it really fits in with how I live my life and think.
Teddy: I think that Margiela has always been about this idea that you can be beautifully dressed and you can love fashion, you can love this extremely glamorous, vain world, but while being identity-less, without being over the top, without saying too much. It's kind of this anonymous glamour. I think that's very unique to the house of Margiela. While other brands need to scream 'look at us, look at this advertisement, look at this monogram, look at our logo!’ Margiela doesn't because the clothes and the design speak for themselves.
What does it feel like to be the face of that brand now?
Teddy: I don't think the brand has a face. I think it’s a faceless brand and I think that’s one of the special things about being a part of this campaign. It’s about a mutiny of women. It’s the first time there has been a group of people attached to a fragrance for the house, or in general. I mean, I think the reason why we were cast wasn't because of who we are as people but it's for what we stand for. I think we're not necessarily the face of the house but we're the face of a generation, and I think that's what this fragrance is being targeted towards. The message is: it doesn’t matter who you are.
Teddy you've walked for Margiela, what was that experience like?
Teddy: It was absolutely incredible, because there is nobody like John. I've only walked it when John has been the creative director. But there is just nobody who works like him, and I've worked with everybody so I can safely make that assumption. It's never just a beautiful shirt, it’s never just a beautiful dress, there’s layers and layers of references.
What do you think makes a great perfume?
Hanne: I think if it doesn't smell too gender related. I like a bit of boyish smell on myself.
Teddy: I think what makes a great perfume is when a fragrance smells unique on everyone. You know it could be this super famous scent, but it smells different on everyone, people identify with it differently. For me it could be a day scent, for you it could be a night scent. It could be worn on a man, it could be worn on a woman.
Hanne: I think a perfume should be unisex, and for everyone, and I think this one is.
Teddy: I think a smell is a smell. You smell. I smell. You're a guy. I'm a trans woman. You know what I mean, we all smell. We've only defined fragrance as feminine or masculine because of these bullshit gender roles we place on everything. Everything is gendered, isn’t that crazy? Down to smell, what you smell like is gendered. Isn't that kind of ridiculous? This fragrance is for everyone.
Would you find yourself more drawn to going conventionally a woman's perfume before you would men's?
Teddy: No, I think I've always picked what smelled good. I've always just thought whatever smelled the best on me is what’s right. I think it hurts someone when they're thinking, well I don’t know if I can buy this because it's in a pink bottle.
Do you think there should also be men in the campaign? Or do you think it makes sense to be a completely female-identifying cast?
Teddy: When I spoke to John and I asked him what his inspiration was for the casting, and for Mutiny, he spoke about the women's march in the US being a big piece of that, and so I think it’s more inspired by the time. Right now we live in this time where women are finally being able to ask for what they want, and claiming their space, making it a more equitable world for both of us.
I'm a transgender woman so I think just by having someone like me in the campaign is already kind of rebellious in a way. People are very conservative, and people will look at me and still say “that's a man” just because of the way I was born, and not necessarily because of how I present myself. People are that ignorant. You know it is what it is. You know femininity can be whatever you want it to be. I think that's kind of the message of this fragrance.
Does it feel like a weight on your shoulders at all that you're one of the first transgender female models that is at the highest tier of modeling at the moment? Do you feel a sense of responsibility?
Teddy: Yes, of course, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to my community. I feel a deep sense of responsibility to represent transgender women, and just women in general. I think it’s part of my job as a public figure to make sure that I'm not making a fool of what I stand for and what I represent. At this moment in history, transgender people are really fighting for our space and for our equality, and for me to take that for granted and not take it seriously would be a huge waste.
Do you remember what your first perfume was?
Hanne: Mine was a Lion King perfume. It was pretty good. It's still probably at my mum's house somewhere.
Teddy: I'm pretty sure mine -- it's so embarrassing -- was like, remember Abercrombie and Fitch and how major it was? I remember I shoplifted an Abercrombie and Fitch cologne, it was called Fierce, I loved it.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.