Meet Marc Jacobs’ New Muse: Transgender Director Lana Wachowski

Known for her work behind the scenes, Wachowski steps into the spotlight.
Lana Wachowski in Marc Jacob's Spring/Summer 2016 ad campaign (left). Marc Jacobs and Lana Wachowski pictured together (inset). (Photos: Instagram; Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
Jan 7, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

As the cowriter and codirector of the Matrix franchise, Lana Wachowski is well known for her film success and, as a transgender woman, an advocate for the LGBT community. Now, thanks to a new Marc Jacobs campaign, Wachowksi can add “model” to her list.

“This season’s ad campaign represents a series of connected events; a visual narrative,” Jacobs wrote on the caption of an Instagram photo of Wachowski on Wednesday. In the image, Wachowski can be seen smiling as she models a plaid top and cardigan designed by Jacobs. “It is a personal diary of people who have and continue to inspire me and open my mind to different ways of seeing and thinking,” Jacobs continued. And Wachowski is first up on Jacobs’ list of inspirations.

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Wachowski is credited on the Matrix films as half of the Wachowski Brothers. She dodged press appearances and red carpet events for more than a decade after the first film’s release in 1999. She did so to maintain her anonymity rather than hide her gender, but she ultimately stepped into the spotlight in 2012 and spoke publicly about her gender identity. Soon after, Wachowski was given Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award, and her impassioned acceptance speech caught the designer’s eye.

Wachowski spoke about the obligation of individuals to society at large, quoting a line from another film she codirected, Cloud Atlas: “If I had remained invisible, the truth would remain hidden.”

This season’s ad campaign represents a series of connected events; a visual narrative. It is a personal diary of people who have and continue to inspire me and open my mind to different ways of seeing and thinking. The spectrum of individuals photographed in our Spring/Summer 2016 ad campaign represent a celebration of my America. In collaboration with photographer David Sims and stylist Katie Grand, the people featured in our campaign personify this collection of fashion through their individuality. Collectively, they embody and celebrate the spirit and beauty of equality. It is with an overwhelmingly full heart that I share this first portrait of our Spring/Summer 2016 ad campaign. Lana Wachowski. I was first introduced to Lana via YouTube in December 2012. The speech Lana gave to accept the Human Rights Campaign, Visibility Award, (October 20, 2012) was utterly profound in its script and her articulate, brilliant and timeless delivery. She expressed thoughts and ideas that have filled my head and heart always but had never been so eloquently captured in language that was so tangible, intelligent, poignant and full of possibility. I found myself referencing Lana’s words in my daily life and sharing her speech with close friends. In the days before our Spring/Summer ‘16 fashion show and through a fateful series of communications, much to my incomprehensible delight, Lana accepted an invitation to our show in New York City and thus I took her, “fashion show virginity.” Lana’s ineffable beauty captured by David in this portrait reminds me of the personal sentiment she shared with me about, “learning you can make important friends at anytime in your life.”

A photo posted by Marc Jacobs (@themarcjacobs) on

The director later elaborated about this responsibility to forgo her own desire for privacy for the greater good. “For transgender people, that public and private identity is more complicated by the fact that if they are not seen, in some ways they have no identity,” Wachowski told The Hollywood Reporter in 2012. “On the other hand, if they are seen, that in some ways can actually be life-threatening,” she added, pointing to the high rates of murdered transgender women.

While Wachowski is still well known for her reluctance to do interviews, her role in the fashion campaign furthers transgender visibility and acceptance in mainstream media. And according to Jacobs’ Instagram post, Wachowski is one of many yet-to-be-revealed models of a similar standard who “embody and celebrate the spirit and beauty of equality.”