Is fashion still scared of people who are not traditionally ‘pretty’?

Nur Khamis explores the obstacle-filled path of unconventional models and the underrepresentation of individuals lacking Eurocentric features in the fashion industry.

It’s 2019. Fashion is slowly starting to approach diversity. We can’t be sure how genuine it is, but we must appreciate the efforts: you can now see plus-size or older models and almost all races and ethnicities. What do all these people have in common, though? They all look the same. Is the fashion industry scared to bring unconventionality to the catwalks and magazine covers?

Paula Dunker

Paula Dunker is somewhat of a legend in the nightlife of Bucharest. Everyone knows her, admires her: she’s present at every party where the ‘good crowd’ go - always in Control Club and Apollo111 Club, the best places in the capital to drink and dance. By ‘good crowd’ I mean to say the artists, musicians, students, hipsters of Bucharest - people you wouldn’t be surprised to see featured in an i-D magazine feature - the ones that keep the Eastern European city alive and moving. 

Few of us actually know anything about Paula - that’s what makes her a legend. Only the ones close to her know. We see her as an entertainer at the queer parties of Bucharest, proudly wearing her bold make-up, colourful dresses and body hair. But I want to know more - who is Paula Dunker?

Masculinity

I listen to the sounds of my father making his way around the house, getting ready for work. Every day his routine is identical - after a shower, he does his hair, gets dressed, prays for a couple of minutes, and puts some cologne on. He is ready to go. He is gone almost all day - never in one place. He drives around, meets people, talks business. When his day is finally over, he spends his evenings on the sofa, having tea, watching action films, and speaking loudly on the phone in Arabic.

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Patrick Braila
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Adrian Newell Paun

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Adrian Newell Paun. I am the founder of the Adrian Newell Paun Queer Archive and the founder of the Romania Queer Documentaries Film Festival (ROQ DOC), the only one in Europe dedicated exclusively to queer documentaries. I was an activist for the LGBTQ + community, but I no longer consider myself an activist. I considered myself the motherly part of the gay activism in Romania.

My work as an activist began more than 6 years ago, when I started hormone replacement therapy, when I was about 28 years old. The joy of succeeding, after much effort, but without proper medical support, along with the memories of the difficult years of dysphoria, brought me to a place where I publicly assumed my trans identity and started talking about myself, hoping that I will alleviate the pain of other people who feel the same way.