Looking back through her video archive, YouTube star Gigi Lazzarato can track how her style has transformed as she transitioned into her true self.
Better known as Gigi Gorgeous, the Canadian online personality and model says when she came out as transgender in a journey that was closely followed by millions of viewers, she gravitated towards ultra-feminine attire — skin-tight dresses and bright colours — because she thought that was the “suit” that made you a woman.
Now, Lazzarato fashions herself a “chameleon,” and said her shifting style will be on full display in a photo series launching at Toronto Fashion Week.
Produced by culture-focused content platform XPosed, “Icon in the Making” transports the modern-day influencer to the 1960s in a series shot by noted Toronto fashion photographer Chris Nicholls under the creative direction of George Antonopoulos and Glenna Weddle.
Lazzarato, who grew up just west of Toronto in Mississauga, Ont., said she can barely recognize herself in the shots, and she can’t wait for them to be revealed to her friends and family at a Yorkville exhibit on Wednesday. The photos will also be featured in XPosed and Fashion magazine’s October issues.
The L.A.-based 27-year-old spoke to The Canadian Press by phone last week about how the fashion shoot fits into her personal and public transformation.
CP: Why is this series called “Icon in the Making”?
Lazzarato: We were referencing a lot of photos of like Bridget Bardot and Sophia Loren, and all of the iconic poses and women back then. So I think it’s ‘Icon in the Making’ because I’m still alive doing my career, embodying them from back then.
CP: The series is billed as being inspired by your personal journey. How is that?
Lazzarato: I think if we’re talking transition and transforming into something that you’re not comfortable with, or that you’re really experimenting with, it definitely was a transformational day for me, because it’s looks that I’ve never done before.
CP: What was it like transitioning in the public eye?
Lazzarato: At the beginning, a lot of my friends and a lot of my family knew I was transgender and that I was going to take steps to become the woman that I felt I was and that I felt inside. But the reason that I made it so public was because of all the comments and stories I’d heard prior. I was online for years before that, and when I came out I was just like, you know what, I know these people have my back.
The hard side of it all is when you feel pressure like you have to share when you’re not necessarily ready … There’s just certain aspects where I don’t want to talk about my family or my friends, because they didn’t really sign up for this. But it’s like sometimes you have to.
CP: As a very visible transwoman who comes from a fair bit of financial privilege, do you feel that influences your role in the LGBTQ community?
Lazzarato: I think the financial (aspect) really has nothing to do with it. Because growing up, I was always striving and I was always making work for myself, whether that was when I was 15 working at McDonald’s or volunteering … I was never showered in gifts or like here’s cash, here’s money.
The only thing that I feel like I’ve been really, really, really, really, really blessed with when it comes to my family is their unconditional love. Because for me, I’ve seen so many horror stories of people being disowned or parents just not getting it.
CP: The photo series is set in the past. Do you think you’re changing the future?
Lazzarato: I can only hope so. I think that that’s like one of my biggest things, that I’ve been put on this earth and I want to leave it with a bang, and I want to leave this planet a better place than (when) I entered it.
— This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press