Fashion For All

London Fashion Week, Rain Dove, The Badass Model Who Is Going To Change The World

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Striding into the building clad in light-up neon shoes walks 6″2 US-based model Rain Dove.

Androgynous in style and badass in attitude the Vermont-born catwalker flew into town for London Fashion Week.

Relatively unknown until a few years ago, Dove has been making headlines in the UK and across the world for her striking and chiseled look.

But as we soon find out, she’s much deeper than her image.

Dropping by The Huffington Post UK office, the Native-American descendent tells us about diversity in the fashion industry, volunteering for the UN and her passion for water quality.

When she landed in London the first thing she was given was a London Evening Standard with a front page headline that read: ‘Designers want size zero models’.

“I have been to castings for a ton of brands so it’s very interesting to see that there is some diversity in London, hairstyle for example,” she said.

“But not in skin colour and size.

“In fact everybody was like no breasts and size zero and there’s no age diversity at all. Everyone I saw looked like people who had barely left high school or were just barely getting to the frat years of college, that was it.

“Fashion Week runways seem to be about just having this very clothes hanger kind of style – and I respect that, they are private industries and they have the right to present their art, their work in whichever way they want.

“It’s very interesting when you have such large brands which pull in such a high revenue and they have such a big responsibility to their advertising and their exposure to shape and to mould society through art, yet they have a hard time being able to do that.

“So fashion brands, if you don’t diversify it’s very easy for people to find something else, and they will.”

At 26-years-old Dove is wise beyond her years and speaks passionately about activism and helping people gather basic water rights, insisting that lack of water hygiene will become the lead cause of death in the world.

“I have what some people consider to be a ‘hippie’ mentality,” she explained. “I want to save the world and help them.

“I saw how much money people spent in the fashion industry and I was like oh man if someone can spend this much on clothes they certainly can spend five dollars a month on causes.

“So I was like okay if I get into this industry I can talk to people who normally would never listen. The end goal is to show people that there’s more to life than being really ridiculously good looking.”

Dove – who has a degree in genetic engineering – found it hard to break into the fashion industry, in part because of her androgynous looks.

Walking in both womenswear and menswear, she says that some designers just want to work with her because she is perceived as edgy.

“It was very difficult for me because of my height and the socio-political affiliation with my sexuality.

“I believe that everyone who is human, is androgynous, but I don’t think there are a lot of people that are presented as truly androgynous.”

Dove has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, including Calvin Klein, but says it has its downsides.

“I’m used as a gimmick a lot in this industry and I’m used as the shock factor and it doesn’t demystify the fear of what it is to be someone who is different.”

She also touches upon sexuality and says despite many people assumptions she doesn’t identify as a lesbian, but she prefers vagina as it’s “easier to navigate”.

People’s assumptions about Dove’s androgynous appearance have also led to her finding herself in dangerous situations.

Using the bathroom is one simple need that is difficult for Dove, who admits she has had shameful experiences in London and that she suffers from “bathroom anxiety”.

“When I was in Camden about two months ago I was in a bar in the restroom, a security guard came in, unlocked the door and pulled me out with my pants down into the bar thinking I was a dude jacking off in the bathroom.

“I wrote a letter to the bar and told them that I wanted proof that their staff was going through some kind of changes.

“It’s a complicated situation because you don’t want to be judged on your appearance, but you have to understand that when it comes to the women’s room there has been a lot of instances in places that serve alcoholic beverages where people have been abused sexually, so I do respect the need.”

Despite rough treatment in bathrooms – Dove says it can be different when she’s walking down the street.

“One of the benefits to me is that I look like a white guy. A tall, white guy with all his shit together. So I tend to be treated very respectfully everywhere I go, until I use the restroom.

“I find that people here may be abusive when you’re walking by, but they won’t be abusive if you confront them.”

But all that changes when Dove presents in a more feminine way.

“When I walk down the street in a dress – people think I’m transgender. The issue isn’t that I’m embarrassed to be thought of as transgender, the issue is that people treat transgender individuals so violently, especially if they think it’s male to female.

“That is hard because if you grow up in a very Christian background where they said you have to dress like this then,they are asking you to dress in a way that will put you in physical harm.

“I’m very careful about wearing a dress to a bar or a place where alcohol is served. I think that if I’m in public wearing a dress then I will only talk to certain people.”

Formerly fighting fires in a rural town in the States, Dove’s broad body type sees her cast and looked upon as a “butch” lesbian by people in the fashion industry – and she thinks this makes it tougher for her to be cast.

“I think that if you identify as a gay male in this industry, people don’t care or question because it’s very common, you know it’s a very common affiliation for a gay male to be in the fashion industry.

“It is also common for a ‘lipstick lesbian'” to be in the fashion industry, but when you have a ‘butch lesbian’ it confuses people.”

Eyes-wide and with animated expression, Dove responds well to the curve-ball question I ask her about Donald Trump.

“I have a theory about Donald Trump”, she says, before flowing into a blissful conspiracy about the Republican presidential hopeful.

Read her theory here.

This February, HuffPost UK Style is running a month-long focus on our Fashion For All campaign, which aims to highlight moments of colour, size, gender and age diversity and disability inclusivity in the fashion and beauty world.

We will be sharing moments of diversity with the hashtag #LFW4All and we’d like to invite you to do the same. If you’d like to blog about diversity or get involved, email us here.

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