While New York Fashion Week continues to push for diversity on the runway, Vogue Paris is making its own statement with its March cover. The fashion magazine’s second biggest issue of the year features its first transgender model front and center—Brazil native Valentina Sampaio.
Photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, Sampaio appears on the cover wearing a bold metallic dress and accompanying smokey eye look. Translated from French, the cover reads “Transgender beauty: How they’re shaking up the world.”
The cover of the March issue, which hits stands on Feb. 23, was revealed in an Instagram post by Vogue Paris captioned “This month we are proud to celebrate transgender beauty and how models like Valentina Sampaio, who is posing for her first ever Vogue cover, are changing the face of fashion and deconstructing prejudice.”
In the issue’s editorial note, Vogue Paris Editor-in-Chief Emmanuelle Alt describes the moment Sampaio arrived at the studio, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, as stunningly beautiful as any Vogue beauty.
“She is the absolute equal of Gisele, Daria, Edie or Anna. Apart from one small detail: Valentina, the femme fatale, was born a boy,” Alt wrote.
In a conversation with American Vogue’s Mark Holgate, Alt recalled Sampaio’s emotional reaction to seeing the Vogue logo on one of her images. She also mentioned that she would “love to work with Valentina again.”
Alt’s decision to put a transgender model on the cover of the March issue of Vogue is meant to send a powerful message about the importance human rights, which Alt told Holgate “aren’t going in a good direction.”
"It's wonderful to see trans people appearing in media around the world," Nick Adams, director of GLAAD's Transgender Media programs, told NBC Out via email. "As transgender visibility increases, the world will come to understand that we exist and that we can succeed in any profession. This growing awareness is essential as we work to create a world that treats trans people fairly and equally."
Though this kind of visibility is a step forward for both Vogue Paris and the fashion industry, Alt finished her editorial note by reminding readers that there’s still a great amount of progress to be made.
“Only when a [transgender] person poses on the front cover of a fashion magazine and it is no longer necessary to write an editorial on the subject will we know that the battle is won.” she concluded.