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Meet Oslo Grace, the breakout model shaking up fashion

The Dazed 100 star talks changing perceptions, their dream runway line-up, and appearing in AW18’s biggest shows

Oslo Grace may have only appeared on the catwalk a handful of times, but it’s safe to say that they’ve made a pretty huge impression on fashion already. But then, when they were part of two of the biggest shows of last season, it’s probably no surprise.

First up, the Cali-born, New York-based model took to the catwalk as part of Jeremy Scott’s AW18 runway show in January. An all-out celebration of queerness and kink featuring a number of castings from the LGBTQ+ community, Grace stole the show as they closed it alongside Violet Chachki, wearing a conjoined tuxedo that linked them to the RuPaul’s Drag Race winner.

Then, just a few weeks later at Gucci, Alessandro Michele tasked them with carrying a v special accessory down the catwalk. No, it wasn’t a handbag or even one of the leather-bound books as seen in the Italian label’s SS18 show, but a tiny, meticulously-crafted baby dragon (cue internet hysteria).  

Though both Moschino and Gucci were co-ed shows, with menswear and womenswear shown together, Grace actually appears on both boards under their mother agency BMG Models. Openly transgender and non-binary, the model is helping to crash down barriers between gender in fashion and beyond. For them though, it’s really no big deal.

“I don’t feel a duty to talk about it all, but I do feel I have a duty to myself to just normalise the idea of being gender-neutral, gender-queer, or trans,” they say. “I totally respect the influencers who dedicate their entire accounts to discussing the issue. But for me personally I am hoping by just ‘being’ that I can normalise the idea of it just being another part of a person’s identity.”

With the model appearing as part of this year’s Dazed 100 and, in just a few weeks, on the menswear schedule (in what we imagine will be a lot of shows), we caught up with Grace to talk stanning Karlie Kloss, hitting it off with Violet Chachki, and who they hope they’ll be walking for come the SS19 season.

How did you feel when you heard you were included in the Dazed 100?

Oslo Grace: I didn’t actually know what it was (laughs), I’m sorry! I just don’t come from a world of knowing what’s cool or what’s in fashion and what’s out. And then when I realised what an honour it was to be included I was not only happy, I was really shocked. It was a really great surprise.

How long have you been modelling and how did you get scouted?  

Oslo Grace: I’ve been modelling for about a year, although more seriously in the last six months or so. I actually did a little bit of modelling work when I was 15 or 16 but I looked a lot different back then, and my lack of self-confidence meant it just didn’t really work out. When I was at university last year I was playing on the rugby team and I got a pretty gnarly sports injury which meant I had to take time out to heal, and that’s when I was like ‘why not give it another shot’. I was going back and forth from Washington DC to New York and then signed back with my old agency in San Francisco after they saw me online again.

One of your biggest moments was closing the AW18 Moschino show, as part of a cast that really celebrated the LGBTQ+ community. How did it feel to be part of that?

Oslo Grace: I had no idea what was in store for me! All I knew was I was flying to Milan to walk in a Moschino show, but I was given no information on what my role was going to be or what I was going to be wearing. I went backstage and was introduced to Violet, and all through our fitting I thought she was amazing but I had no idea who she was, or of her role in the LGBTQ+ community and on Drag Race. It was only on the day of the show that I found out I was going to be closing the show.

Maybe that was for the best, it must have been quite daunting…

Oslo Grace: Of course! But I was so glad I got to do it alongside Violet because she felt like my sister from the first. It wasn’t until two people came up and asked her for a photograph that things kind of clicked. I was like ‘okay, wow’ and asked her what she did. When she said she was on Drag Race everything came together. I realised that not only had Jeremy (Scott) done this on purpose because I’m trans and Violet is this beautiful drag queen, but there was this realisation of the significance of what we were about to do. But thankfully that wasn’t until right before it started, so there wasn’t too much time to get nervous.

If you were to assemble your own ‘dream catwalk’ who would be on it?  

Oslo Grace: That’s such a hard question. I think in homage to what Jeremy did, I’d have to keep Violet on the line-up. And someone else that’s on the Dazed 100, my friend Adam Eli. He’s one of the top LGBTQ+ activists in New York City, and he founded Voices 4, an organisation I’ve worked with a little bit since I moved to NY. I think maybe I’d have my friend Matt Bernstein photograph it. I think beyond that I’d need more time to think, because there are just too many people I’d want to include. Come back to me on that (laughs).   

“I just want to conduct my business as a model, meet the people I can, influence as I can, and challenge as I can, until this is accepted as normal – you know, you just take this as it is, we don’t have to be fetishised or looked at as a token on somebody’s runway, we’ll just be normal” – Oslo Grace

You penned letter to Karlie Kloss a few months ago after seeing her on your plane back from Milan Fashion Week. What was it about seeing her that inspired you to do so?

Oslo Grace: About 45 minutes before my flight from Milan landed in New York, I realised she was sitting three rows behind me, actually on my plane. This wasn’t in the airport like a lot of the news reporters said it was, I didn’t plan it or anything. So, when I realised she was there, I knew I couldn’t go up to her – an airplane is not where I think celebrities or fashion icons want to be noticed, you know? You’re cramped in, you’re not looking or feeling your best. But I wanted to take advantage of this moment just to say hi and tell her how much of an inspiration she’d been to me while also respecting her privacy. So I posted this note on Instagram and was so happy when I saw her response. It was a really nice moment.

You’ve spoken about your hopes to normalise being trans and non-binary. Do you feel a duty to use your platform to talk about it?

Oslo Grace: Personally, I just want to conduct my business as a model, meet the people I can, influence as I can, and challenge as I can, until this is accepted as normal – you know, you just take this as it is, we don’t have to be fetishised or looked at as a token on somebody’s runway, we’ll just be normal. That’s what’s important to me.

The SS19 menswear shows are fast approaching. What do you have lined up for them?

Oslo Grace: Well, I’m heading to Europe for the first time as a non-exclusive, so I’m really excited to go through the whole casting process. It’s going to be really interesting to see how it goes because I think sometimes when I go and do a casting, people have no idea that I’m trans until they meet me. So that will be interesting. After men’s fashion week I guess there might be some campaigns, but aside from that I plan to spend some time with my family in August before womenswear in September.

Who would you love to walk for?  

Oslo Grace: I have a couple right at the top of my head. Alexander Wang is someone that I really deeply respect, I would love to walk for him. Also Raf Simons at Calvin Klein, Prada... There's a lot. But I think the top two on my mind right now are Raf and Alexander.

What about the Couture shows?

Oslo Grace: I’d love to stay in Paris for the Couture shows. I’m definitely open to the idea. I’ve never done it before, but it sounds cool. I’m really focused right now, and committed to working hard. So whatever comes my way, I’m up for it. I’m having a lot of fun.