Teddy Quinlivan and Hanna Gaby Odiele Stage Mutiny for Margiela

Teddy Quinlivan and Hanna Gaby Odiele Stage Mutiny for Margiela

As faces of John Galliano’s debut fragrance for Maison Margiela, Teddy and Hanne reveal the journey of their truth.

As faces of John Galliano’s debut fragrance for Maison Margiela, Teddy and Hanne reveal the journey of their truth.

Text: Stella Pak

True to Margiela’s core, John Galliano's debut fragrance for the house deconstructs normative beauty standards by proposing an all-new paradigm of glamour. Mutiny, with its multifaceted scent profiles a refreshingly inclusive ad campaign, bucks many of the clichéd notions of femininity that beauty, and the fragrance industry in particular, have relied on. On the heels of political debate about rights of gender non-binary people, Mutiny’s cast of nonconforming models, including Teddy Quinlivan and Hanna Gabbe, who have come out as transgender and intersex respectively, prove that identity isn’t only skin-deep.

The scent itself boasts feminine notes of tuberose, which peel away to reveal a floral leather with undertones of cocoa and vanilla and a complex, citrus-infused sensuality.

We took a moment in Paris to interview Quinlivan and Gaby to talk about what it was like to come out, and how they hope their message in a bottle will make it to the masses.

What is your first scent memory that you guys have?

Teddy Definitely smelling my mom when she’d come home from work. She was a single mother so I’d come home from school and be with a babysitter. I just remember her perfume and the way she smelled after working all day so vividly.

Hanne For me, my mom got me a Lion King perfume after that movie came out. That was a long time ago. I was like six years old or something. And it was like, “Oh, she’s going to a big school now. She needs a perfume.”

Did it make you feel more feminine?

H I was very underwhelmed.

Both of you stand for something unique in the cultural landscape. What is it like to be part of this revolutionary campaign for Mutiny?

H I think it reflects the time perfectly. All the women in the campaign are strong women who are speaking out about something. Mutiny is in the air.

T I think the fragrance is revolutionary in that it’s not just a nice scent in a pretty bottle. The idea behind the campaign is so forward thinking, especially for such a commercialized product like a fragrance. The idea that, whether you’re watching a YouTube video or you’re on a subway, you [could] see me as a transgender woman, or Hanne Gaby as an intersex person, or 3 iconic black women in a fragrance campaign, is all very revolutionary.

It definitely couldn’t have happened without it being this moment in history. It takes somebody like John Galliano and his genius to bring us all together. I think it’s cool that it’s a fragrance called Mutiny because it’s about a mutiny of people: mutinous women coming together and asking for more and fighting for our rights and not being afraid to demand respect. I think that’s so reflective of the time that we’re living in.

It was a very pivotal moment when both of you came out with your stories. People weren’t outspoken about intersex. It was revolutionary that Hanne, you were teaching people what that even means. You had to have so much courage to say something.

H As a child, I never saw myself represented anywhere. And me having a career for 13 years, it didn’t matter. And now I’m able to use my voice and say, “Hey, I’m born like this and it’s okay to be this way.” I want to use my voice because I don’t want the younger generation to feel like they’re the only ones or alone.

You’re also married. I would assume there’s so much vulnerability in talking to your partner about it.

Hanne: For him, it was like “…And?” It’s a small part of who I am but it doesn’t define me at the end.

Teddy, for you, coming out as trans woman, what was it like right before coming out in a public forum?

T I knew I could come out as transgender and I would get publicity for it. But I wanted to prove to people that I could be successful as a model without needing to say anything about being transgender. I wanted to prove that I was great at my job first and foremost and being transgender was just another part of my life. So when I came out, it was really important for me to do it at a time when I established myself. Then [people] could get a new lease on what it means to be trans in the world and where that can take you. It was really nerve wracking and it was really scary but I’m so glad I did it on my terms.

Before, I was kind of ashamed of being trans because I didn’t know how to handle it in a public setting. I have what we call “passing privilege” in the trans community. I look feminine enough to pass as a cisgender woman, which is a huge privilege. I recognize that privilege. For me, it was really scary because I was giving up a piece of my privacy. A huge part of me.

There came a point where I had to come to terms with being trans. I said, “I’m going to come out with it because I’m not ashamed of who I am.” It doesn’t matter if I get a fancy new vagina, or a new nose, or whatever. I’m still always going to be a transgender woman no matter what I do. And what is wrong with that? And why do I feel uncomfortable with that? And as soon as I came to terms with the fact that I was a transgender woman, I started to love myself and I started to be proud of it.

As soon as I did that, I felt like I finally accomplished something really important in my career. And it wasn’t how many shows I was walking or what editorials I was shooting. It was the impact that I was going to have, and that I hope will continue.

You mentioned passing privilege. Is that an ongoing struggle? Are you riding in the middle where there’s not enough acceptance on either side?

T I think it really depends for every person. I know transgender women who feel like they don’t need any surgery. Or they don’t care about passing necessarily. What they care about is living their lives the way they want to live it and being happy doing that. And I know other trans women who feel like they need to pass to feel comfortable in society and I understand both mindsets. And I think both are important to explore. And I think for trans women, it’s a question of safety. It’s a question of can I go home at night and go home alone? Am I scared someone is going to assault me, attack me, or say something? And being able to pass gives you a lot of that protection. Not everyone wants it, not everyone needs it. I feel deeply lucky to have what I have.

Hanne, being intersex, do you feel like the choice was taken away from you?

H No. Well, I’m speaking about [nonconsensual] surgery that happened to me as a child so I’m all about choice. I unfortunately didn’t get to make an informed choice because I never got the truth until it was too late. The choice was made for me. That’s it.

For those who are scared to come out on their own, whether it’s about their sexuality or as a unique individual, what kind of advice can you give someone?

H Find you community. Get connected. Not feeling alone is very alone is very important in self-acceptance. Then you can speak your truth and live your truth by not being alone.

T Knowing that this is a world with over 7 billion people in it, there’s somebody who feels the same way you do out there. Finding those people and doing your research is such a great tool for self-acceptance. Once you love yourself, it’s so much easier to come to terms with whatever your conflictions are about yourself. Whether it’s about being transgender, intersex, gay, bisexual, whatever. Whatever it may be, once you find your community and know that you’re not alone, that’s when you can begin to flourish.

Also a big piece of that too is that you don’t have to come out about anything. Coming out isn’t everything. It’s your choice whether you want to disclose something about yourself or not. It’s your body, it’s your life, it’s your identity and you shouldn’t feel pressure to say anything.

That being said, the more [we] are open, the more people will understand. The more transgender women that come out and demand rights and demand equality, the more people will become educated. If there is no communication, there’s no education.

Credits: EDITED BY SAMUEL ANDERSON

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