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Male Model Lights Up High-Fashion Runways

Andrej Pejic poses backstage at the Custo Barcelona Fall 2011 fashion show during New York's Fashion Week.
Mike Coppola
Getty Images for IMG
Andrej Pejic poses backstage at the Custo Barcelona Fall 2011 fashion show during New York's Fashion Week.

The world of high fashion, as they say, revolves around trends. And the biggest thing going right now seems to be Andrej Pejic, a model with deep-set eyes, high, strong cheekbones, long platinum hair — and the body of a man.

Pejic, 19, has been a sensation at this year's couture events in Paris, New York and London. He modeled for designers Marc Jacobs, Jeremy Scott — and (no surprise) Jean Paul Gaultier.

To explain why Pejic is becoming a favorite on the runway, the BBC quotes Daily Telegraph fashion chief Hilary Alexander: "Andrej is obviously beautiful and he has the most amazing figure. When you consider that a lot of designers designing for this impossible ideal for someone who is 5ft 11in, no hips and no chest."

Pejic was discovered in Australia, where he grew up after his family emigrated from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was reportedly spotted by an agent while working in a McDonald's in Melbourne. And in less than a year, his androgynous look has landed him in the French, Japanese and Italian editions of Vogue.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Pejic says he started developing his androgynous style when he was 14 — mostly because he was uneasy taking on a strictly masculine identity, he says.

But now I'm comfortable in my skin, and for my look to be celebrated is great. My look is very personal to me. When I started experimenting, it was a personal decision because I was unhappy. It wasnt something I did for attention.

In that feature, Pejic also says there's another gender barrier he'd like to break: "I would love to do Playboy with [the photographer] Terry Richardson," he says. "I love Playboyand Terry would be the person to do it."

Pejic's rising popularity comes as Lea T, a Brazilian transsexual model born Leondro Cerezo, is making headlines — and appearing on Oprah.

Here's a fan's YouTube tribute to Pejic's work:

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.