Barneys New York model ‘Peche Di’ talks her struggles, fabulous moments, and transgender roles
By Coconuts Bangkok March 25, 2014 / 11:48 ICT
Like Coconuts BKK on Facebook Follow Coconuts BKK on Twitter Peche Di on Barneys New York Spring/Summer 2014 Campaign/ Photo: The Window
“Because society treats us as outcasts, it is easy to get depressed and want to give up.”
The face of Peche Di, a transgender model from Bangkok, today can be seen throughout New York shining in one of the most recognized fashion editorial. Meanwhile, her outspoken voice was featured in Vogue and Vanity Fair, where she told the world of her struggles and beautiful success.
Peche Di was selected as one of 17 transgender individuals to model for Barneys New York’s latest campaign “Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters,” which aims to give voice to the transgender community and address issues overlooked in society.
As her transition began in an all-boys school, Peche faced bullying and struggles along her way. Determined to achieve great success, Peche left for New York to study film and follow her dreams in acting and modeling.
“I want to be the first Thai who walks on the red carpet at the Oscars and Emmy Awards. That’s my dream and my goal and I’m not going to stop trying and working hard until I get there.”
Coconuts caught up with Peche Di to talk about her ultimate goals, her amazing perspective and what it’s like to be photographed for Barneys New York by Bruce Weber.
CB: Was Barneys your first major fashion campaign? Could you tell us about your journey as a model in New York?
Peche: The Barneys experience was my first major campaign on the global stage. My images made it into Vogue USA, Vanity Fair and The New York Times. I saw my pictures posted at bus stops all over New York City and at the Madison Avenue Barneys store; the main window displayed both my photos and my story.
My New York modeling career began shortly after I came to New York and won the “Miss Asia NYC” beauty pageant. After that recognition, I landed a spot as a model for “Chrysalis Lingerie." I’ve also done some runway events including one at the famous Plaza hotel for a well known American designer Randi Rahm.
CB: In your opinion, how do people perceive transgenders in Thailand? And is it different in New York?
Peche: In Thailand, some clubs and bars still put signs in front of the bar “Transgenders are not allowed." This is morally indecent and totally against human rights. Living in New York is so much happier. The laws in NYC support transgender rights and acceptance is improving every day.
It seems like the Thai government focus on their personal bank accounts rather than improving the civil rights and living conditions of the Thai people. I didn’t abandon Thailand; I choose to represent Thai people in NYC by being a voice calling for political and economic reforms in Thailand and an example to hard working Thai people everywhere. As they say, if you can make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere.
CB: Modeling for a brand like Barneys must be a big moment for any individual. What was happening during the shoot?
Peche: The shoot was spectacular, and Barneys’ approach was first class. I thought they did an amazing job of bringing out the best in each of the models. What will remain most memorable for me is the moments I had to get to know each of the other models. It is very comforting to know that others share similar struggles as we strive to be fully accepted as a mainstream model and actress. During the shoot, we all supported each other, and I think many of us will remain life-long friends. At the end, we had proven to Barneys New York and the world that 17 transgender models could individually and collectively create an outstanding fashion campaign.
CB: As a transgender woman from Thailand, what does it mean to you to be selected as a representative to tell your story to the world?
Peche: I was so happy to be selected as one of the featured models for the Barneys campaign. The iconic photographer, Bruce Weber, was chosen to shoot the campaign. The combination of Barneys and Mr. Weber brings instant credibility to transgender models and draws them into the Madison Avenue fashion mainstream. I liked that the focus was on what makes us unique rather than what makes us different. All too often when the topic of transgenders is discussed, people become preoccupied with our sexual transition and our body parts. The Barneys campaign focused exclusively on who we are now and, as human beings, what we have had to overcome to achieve our success.
I was thrilled to be able to represent Thai’s transgender community. I hope my success in breaking through as a serious model on the global stage is something that paves the way for other Thai transgender models. I am looking forward to expanding my career, but at the same time I will continue to be a voice speaking out for transgenders and advocating their acceptance based on their abilities rather than their differences.
CB: What were the biggest struggles you have faced after your transition?
Peche: The biggest struggle I face is getting a job and maintaining steady work. Transgender people have the highest rate of unemployment. Society tends to treat transgenders as though we have a disability or are perhaps mentally ill, rather than people with a different sexual orientation.
Friends and family can help get you through the hard time. However, in the end you need to rely on yourself and push yourself. No one else can really understand the struggles of a transgender and so in the end you need to overcome your depression and keep trying.
CB: What would you say to people of any gender who are struggling to reach self-realization and find a place to fit in the society?
Peche: Most importantly you must have faith within yourself. We need to connect to ourselves and find our inner peace. Not only can’t we be afraid of expressing our true identity, we have to go further and be proud of ourselves.
There is enough room in society for all of us to fit in and find our place. If you haven't found your place yet, keep trying, with time it will all come together. Once you find yourself, your place in society will not be far behind.
CB: Now that you’ve modeled for Barneys. What’s next?
Peche. My goal is build from the knowledge I gained in the Barneys shoot and make myself into a top model and then develop my career as an actress.
I know success is out there somewhere. So, if you are reading this and have an acting role for a talented and beautiful actress, I’m probably available. I think action type films are my specialty. I want to be in fantasy/thrillers like the new “300: Rise of an Empire” or the classic “Lord of the Rings” movies, but I would also settle for becoming the next “James Bond”girl.
Instagram & Twitter: @PecheDi