Carmen Liu introduces the world’s first lingerie collection created exclusively for trans women
BY SOPHIE ROBBINS
I looked at the waiter behind the drinks table in the reception area and had a moment of cognitive dissonance.
For a moment, I was back in a dimly remembered world of receptions, PR launches and cavernous venues veined with neon lights and pulsing music.
But that was back in the day – before every mention of the word trans was chained to words like “debate”, “controversy” or “attacks.” But not tonight.
For once, I was at a trans-related event that didn’t involve one group of people calling on another group of people to accept that they don’t exist and that if they did exist they’d be a threat to women and lesbians – only they aren’t – and so on and so forth… Reductio ad absurdam.
Enter Carmen Liu
Carmen Liu begs to differ. The not-even-30-something founder of GI Collection was launching what she billed as the world’s, “first collection of lingerie exclusively for trans women.”
Leading out a parade exclusively comprising trans models, the former Royal Ballet School student turned designer was out to prove that trans women are women. And they buy lingerie too.
Still buzzing days later, Carmen reflected on the aims and mission of her new company:
“We want to make trans women feel empowered by solving some of the unique problems they face – making their journey a little bit happier.
“At the same time, we want to reach out to cis women and show them that trans women are just like them.
“A lot of women came up to me that night and said, ‘We’re so behind what you’re doing’.
“A runway is an event many women can relate to. It’s much harder when you’re talking about issues like gender reassignment surgery.”
Practical problems, perfectly solved
The range features a full selection of glam bras and knickers, with thongs starting at £20 and bras at £26 – but it’s the knickers that are the brand’s foundation, as it were.
“Our underwear is aimed at pre-operative trans women,” explained the self-taught designer.
“Tucking is a problem for many trans women and the only solution was the ‘gaff’ which is horrendously uncomfortable and looks like fetish wear.
“Women deserve better.”
Carmen’s satin and lace thongs are cotton lined – achieving the dual goal of sleekness and comfort.
“The first time I tried the prototype on, I cried,” said Liu, whose last range of new designs sold out in just three days.
“As a dancer, you learn moves very quickly by watching people perform, so you become very aware of how your body needs to move and stretch – and your clothes along with it.”
Carmen is nothing if not ambitious – with a steely social conscience.
“We’re aiming for a global presence: in India and Australia and beyond.
“Back home, we’re creating safe spaces for trans women; a new social network; hair and make-up classes. It’s our time.”
Changing the conversation
Frankly, trans women deserve a break, and a nice pair of pants works wonders.
And beyond the trans world? One launch guest, Viola, a drag performer and self-described “gender convenient” person, is equally optimistic:
“I’m interested in diversity and inclusion in professional and technical communities and the model of a group for women opening up to all is driving some really positive, interesting communities.
“Carmen may be the person to lead an inclusive trans community that cuts across the labels and finds a way to build people up.”
About time too, don’t you think?
Find out more at gicollection.co.uk
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