NYFW Spotlight: Getting to Know SuperModel Rain Dove

It's not often you get to attend one of the fashion world's biggest series of events. For me, this week was my first time making it to NYFW! And in that vein, it's not often you bump into a real life super model just hanging out in your hotel lobby. That's exactly what happened on Tuesday night of NYFW.

Photo: LINK  /  Photographer: Will Keown

Tuesday was my second day attending NYFW affairs, and was definitely my most busy. I attended FIVE shows, which will all be chronicled in upcoming posts. At the Art Institutes show, I spied a familiar face walking down the runway - a tall, short-haired model that had opened Vivienne Hu's show. It's pretty common knowledge that the opening walk is the most thirsted after, as the first piece sets the tone for the entire show. That model must be some kinda big deal, right? I quickly realized the same model walked three different times in the Art Institutes show, with looks ranging from a dudely poncho to a sheer floaty dress to a white suit with cut-out panels. I hadn't seen any other models twice that day, and I and my travel buddies Laura (of Weird(Cult)) and Robby talked about her in the car on the way back to the hotel. Little did we know she'd be sitting in our hotel lobby when we arrived.

When we walked in the door it was hard not to spot her in the corner. A tiny lobby makes everything very apparent, especially when there's someone at a height of 6'2" sprawled out in an arm chair! I'm pretty sure we fan-girled a little bit and shouted something incoherent about how we had just been talking about her in the car. She introduced herself as Rain. I handed her one of my business cards (I had printed so many, might as well throw them at anyone that so much as looked at me), and she complimented me on my outfit. I may or may not have squealed out loud. The rest of the STL crew overloaded her with business cards as well. When we mentioned having seen Rain walk at the Vivienne Hu show, she laughed and said she had to nearly punch out another model for the opening spot. Apparently that model had wanted the spot too, and had been vocally critical of Rain's appearance, effectively comparing her to Neil Patrick Harris' portrayal of Hedwig, the protagonist from the musical-turned-movie, Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I have never seen the musical, but I absolutely ADORE the movie. Being on the outside, I wouldn't have cared much about the comment because Hedwig is super fabulous, but I could see how that could be considered a seriously offensive remark to some people. 

Rain's opening look for Vivienne Hu. Photo: Me

During the rest of my time at NYFW, I did not see Rain walk in another show. I downloaded all my photographs from my phone and camera onto my computer Thursday evening after I got home from the airport and lunch with my mom. I spotted Rain a few times in my photographs, and I got to thinking... What would be the odds she wouldn't mind me getting all up in her business and asking her some questions about modeling, and her experience with NYFW? Earlier this evening, I took a chance and sent her a Facebook message. She responded quite quickly, and even introduced me to a friend of hers via Facebook that I might have the opportunity to do some work with in the future! 

Rain was ultra gracious and put up with me chatting with her all night long. I have gleaned some highlights from my questions and our conversations so that you might better get to know her as I have.

Rain first started modeling just a year ago. She was signed professionally this past January - only a week before spring NYFW, showcasing fall and winter looks. She said that she had a "most brutal crash course in high heels." Having grown up on a small farm in Vermont, Rain tended to sway more on the side of practical versus cool. Hand-me downs were more common than mall brands such as American Eagle.

I asked if Rain was staying at the Gem Hotel. Her Facebook has featured posts promoting LGBTQ activism and awareness. The Gem is very active in the LGBTQ scene, sponsoring events like AIDS Walk New York and NewFest, the New York LGBT Film Festival. They train all employees in a sensitivity program, and have a zero-discrimination policy. After learning this, it only makes my stay there taste so much sweeter! Learn more about the Gem and these details HERE. Rain was not actually staying in the Gem hotel at the same time we were, but lives next door and loves the area because it's "full of fashion warehouses, quirky artist den suites, and caves of activism..." There is a shelter on the corner that provides assistance to LGBTQ youth, and Rain has just signed up to volunteer. Metropolitan Community Church of New York (MCCNY) provides "social services for the homeless and the hungry, including people living with HIV/AIDS, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) youth, and building a sense of community, MCCNY Charities, Inc. furthers the broader mission of MCCNY in bringing the world to just and right relationship." Rain can't wait to get started, and says that the shelter needs ample exposure. I am sure that having a supermodel come to volunteer will help!

Because of Rain's obvious gender-bending appearance, I knew she would be often "boxed." This term, and my use of it, originate from the young adult fiction novel What Happened to Lani Garver. I asked Rain if she has heard of it, but she hasn't. The book's namesake character, Lani, lands on the scene in a closely-knit community that is not welcoming of uncomfortable topics, especially the mystique surrounding Lani and Lani's gender. The book, and its delving into identity, self-expression, and teenage crises really had a profound effect on me. I have never forgotten Lani's rejection of putting people into boxes. You do not have to be anything at all. You can be everything you want. I believe that Rain exemplifies this. We can be whoever we want to be.

Which is exactly what Rain pulled off this SS15 season of NYFW. As I mentioned before, Rain walked in both female and male presentations at the Art Institutes show. I told her I was watching recaps of the runways, and she replied swiftly that she dislikes watching her own shows. The Art Institutes show was no exception, particularly the sheer, blue dress that she walked in. She said she felt "like a puppy on a wax floor" and that her heels couldn't grip at all while walking. I apologized and admitted to noticing, but said I figured it must have been because they had given her shoes too small or something of the sort. She responded by saying that shows don't have any mercy on the models' feet. I bet so!

Malan Breton SS15. Photographer: Leona Liang

A few highlights of Rain's week regarding gender-bending include walking in Malan Breton's SS15 show, and modeling in Rochambeau's SS15 presentation. In a post on Facebook, Rain stated that Breton was even referring to her in male pronouns, but the team then encouraged her to something "a little different" during her walk. In the video recap, I think her suddenly softened expression and smile speak more volumes than her unusual end-of-runway pose. The change from hard to soft is what jumps out. And I would have loved to been a mind-reader for the audience. For Rochambeau, absolutely no attention was brought to her being female, and she participated in the presentation smoothly as male. However, I discovered on the Milk Made website that an air of "ambisexuality" was detected at the Rochambeau show. Rain, do you think you helped contribute to that?!

I am very curious to see how Rain's career develops as an androgynous model - even more so after famed youngster Andrej Pejić formally announced her transition from male to female identity. Pejić has been modelling in both men's and women's shows since 2011 for names such as Marc Jacobs and Jean Paul Gaultier, pushing gender boundaries in the fashion world as much as possible. One cover shoot she did was deemed too risqué and some major bookstores covered the image, worried that some patrons would think the magazine featured a topless woman on the front. She underwent sex reassignment surgery earlier this year, and made an official statement regarding her transgender identity during the summer. I personally would love to see Rain and Pejić model together, especially after seeing some images that Rain has posted to her Facebook with double images of herself, or images of herself alongside another female model, with a statement pointing out that both models are women. Both models are stunning and I think could work some serious camera magic with gender role-play.

Article on Rochambeau: HERE. Photography: Andrew Werner

Rain's week was diverse in more ways than just her gender-bending walking roles. For Chromat, Rain walked alongside models of all colors and sizes. Rain also found herself caught in the heart of a protest regarding designer Victor de Souza's choice to initially showcase his models in horse-drawn carriages. Animal rights activists can be a little crazy, and from Rain's account on her blog, they could be downright rude and demeaning. I simply don't understand that - you come to protest the use of horse-drawn carriages in New York, and instead you scream at another woman that she's "ugly?" Have mercy, y'all. Calm down, especially the people that are sending Rain death threats via email. You have better things to be doing. Rain visited the stables this past week to investigate, and I am waiting to see what she has to say about the experience.

And dear Rain, I cannot thank you enough for letting me ask you dozens of silly questions and crack jokes together late into the night yesterday. You are a jewel. I am so glad to have met you, and I am looking forward to seeing where your career takes you! I am crossing my fingers that we might bump into one another during my next attendance at NYFW.

You may find Rain online at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/raindovemodel
Twitter: https://twitter.com/raindovemodel
Instagram: http://instagram.com/raindovemodel
Blogger: http://raindovethemodel.blogspot.com/
Model Mayhem: www.modelmayhem.com/3176558www.modelmayhem.com/3176558

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Below, I have compiled links to Rain's appearances in the shows that I know that she walked in. The 00:00 represents that time that she enters the video footage.

Appearances:  2:28, 9:16, 18:40

Also: Rain appears in photos 7 and 9 in this NY Post article about the carriage procession: