Fashion folk attending the first trans lingerie fashion show were greeted on the door not by bouncers in black suits, but by an anti-trans protest.
Yet decked in Prince Charlie jackets and Alexander McQueen scarves, attendees refused to let the protestors outside Glaziers Hall, London, impact their night.
And neither did designer, Carmen Liu.
The 27-year-old trans woman was on a mission to change a lingerie market which for years neglected trans women.
And yesterday (28 February) she achieved that mission with her lingerie brand, GI Collection.
What makes the lingerie trans-inclusive?
According to Carmen, the lack of stylish négligée options for trans women looks like the ‘love child of Borat’s mankind and a jock strap.’
Each of her designs are tailored towards trans women who have not had gender-confirmation surgery.
Materials in the collection include filmy satin and soft lace, with cotton-lined thongs, and all are purpose-built to gently tuck.
And Carmen carried herself high during the night, conversing with guests, sipping champagne, and even strutting down her own runway. Whose models were exclusively trans women, complete with a voguing interval before the final walkthrough.
That was despite a throng of transphobic protestors standing outside the hall, wearing lingerie themselves over winter-wear, and singing an offensive version of ‘This Old Man.’
‘Sexy knickers don’t make you a woman,’ one derogatory sign read.
Another discriminatory sign read: ‘Clothes don’t make a woman. It’s biology.’
‘All we want is to live’
Sarah, in a floral top that matched her candy-floss hair, was unamused by the protest.
Standing outside the venue where the protestors stood earlier that night, Sarah told Gay Star News: ‘The protestors said we are “biologically men,” that our existence is an “attack” on cis women.
‘The truth is, of course, is that we’re just getting on with our own lives.
‘All we want is to live. To no longer feel the pain of the binary.’
Sarah’s friend, who wished to remain anonymous, called the collection ‘aspirational.’
Her response to the protest? ‘They’re bad singers,’ she joked.
Carmen on the frontline
Sarah, 47, said Carmen’s collection was ‘good for early trans people who are just coming out. It’s very supportive.
‘Carmen is putting herself on the frontline here.
‘The lingerie helps trans women, who are women with women’s bodies. Anything that helps us to be comfortable is a bonus, that’s what we had this evening.
‘Going to the bathroom, shopping for clothing, signing forms; they all asked me, “Am I male or female?” I had to tick one with that sense of despair and obstruction.
‘But this collection changes that.’
‘Helping young trans women’
Sarah transitioned 20 years ago and said people misgendering her no longer impacts her.
She knows who she is and Carmen’s brand is a step towards today’s trans youth accepting themselves, in part, with the clothing they wear.
Many London designers are veering towards inclusivity, offering clothing designed for trans and non-binary people in mind.
‘What we had this evening is Carmen helping young trans women feel their reality that we are women.
‘The lingerie is feminine and helps trans women hide what society says is wrong about being trans and to feel who we are.’
Solutions by trans people, for trans people
‘We can finally wear matching lingerie,’ a video of Carmen played seconds before the catwalk, which she herself modelled in, said.
‘I wish that was a joke, but before tonight, that wasn’t possible. Something so simple, yet we’ve never had it.
‘From this day forward, we will begin to make everything we need to help us be ourselves.
‘It is vital the solutions to our problems come from within.’
One solution is ‘tucking tape.’ A safer alternative to household tape, for women who want to ‘tuck’ their genitalia back.
This was praised by guest Viola Tucks who, in a red velvet dress, praised Carmen for providing services that the typical high-street fashion brand does not always consider when dressing its mannequins.
The ‘genderconvenient drag stand-up comedienne’ said: ‘From a business perspective, selling color-matched tape together with the lingerie makes a difference.
‘You’re not having to faff around with scissors by your more intimate areas anymore!’
The key to Tucks is to discuss Carmen’s craft not as a ‘product’ but as an ‘innovation.’
‘How the lingerie engages with the trans community, and actually offers a service made for the trans community, by the trans community.’
To Tucks, lingerie geared towards non-specific cis-gendered people doesn’t ‘offer much control’ on how their pieces can be worn for bodies that are neither ‘petite, or extra-petite.
‘And don’t forget XXP; extra-extra-petite!’
A step forward
Much progress remains in the fashion industry, but Carmen is positive.
Speaking to Gay Star News today, Carmen said: ‘Last night’s launch event was an important, exciting and emotional time for all of us.
‘To hear how empowered everyone was after the fashion show, I know we have made another positive step forward for our community.’