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This Model Wore Ryan McGinley’s Suit to Her City Hall Wedding

 

In the world of weddings, few styles are as chic or elusive as the hard-to-pull-off pantsuit. But most brides, no matter how edgy or avant-garde, play it safe when it comes to strolling down the aisle in trousers. Even Solange Knowles, who biked to her New Orleans wedding in red lipstick and a jumpsuit by Stéphane Rolland, changed into an Humberto Leon for Kenzo gown to say her vows. And Bianca Jagger, who famously showed up late to her own wedding wearing Yves Saint Laurent, paired her Le Smoking jacket with a skirt.

But not model Casey Legler. A working artist and activist committed to social justice, she recently got married at City Hall to her true love, Siri—a United Nations program coordinator—wearing a Balenciaga suit borrowed from Ryan McGinley (“I’ve always just been masculine presenting,” she says). A former Olympic swimmer who, later in life, became the first woman with a contract as an exclusively-male Ford model, she is 6 foot 2, has a gap between her front teeth, tattoos on her hands, and a mischievous, luminescent air. The hybrid of a sunflower and a trickster, perhaps; in her presence, the phrase “shines from within” comes to mind. Although she no longer models (she is now the assistant general manager for the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn), I convinced her to swing by my studio to play dress-up and talk life, art, activism, and, most importantly, true love!

On Her Childhood:

“My dad was a professional basketball player. I had four siblings. We were five kids living biculturally bilingually; I moved 25 times by the time I was 15. I was an intense, hyper-creative kid. By the time I was 8, I had read all the encyclopedias.”

On Becoming an Olympic Athlete:

“By the time I was 12, I was 6 foot 2. I grew so fast that I only weighed 95 pounds. One day, when my mom dropped my sister off for swim practice, she asked if I could stay. I started swimming competitively right away. I would wake up at 4:30 a.m. and go to school. Then I would go back to the pool in the afternoon. At night I would practice and come home late and eat and go right to bed. The thing is: I didn’t actually like swimming. It was lonely. When you’re in the water you don’t hear anything or see anything. It’s like being sensory deprived. I went to college on a swimming scholarship, but then I lost it when I was 20. I was partying hard with a rough crowd and I was lazy and rude to my coach. Once I gave him the finger while I was doing the butterfly stroke and he threw a chair at my head.”

On Coming Out:

“I came out as a lesbian in the late ’90s. It was intense. I was 220 pounds. I had a shaved head and I was all muscle and I swam faster than everyone on the team. I only wore men’s clothes: baggy black jeans, black shirts, black sneakers. At the U.S. Nationals, one of the coaches pointed to the handicapped bathroom and told me, ‘you’ll be changing in here from now on.’ It was the era of Matthew Shepard and Boys Don’t Cry. The queens that were still alive after the AIDS epidemic practically raised me. They let me know it was okay to be who I was. They gave me a seat at the table.”

On Life After Being an Athlete:

“My first job was bagging groceries at Fresh Fields Market in D.C. I was deeply embarrassed. I remember that my mentor at the time said, ‘Casey, that’s the only thing you’re qualified to do.’ It was tough. I went from having autographs and money and cameras in my face all the time to working at a grocery store. It was humbling.”

On Art and Politics:

“In the late ’90s, I became very politically active. Back then, I used my body as a protest. Kissing my girlfriend in public and holding her hand was a form of protest. I came up in the black bloc anarchists so I believe in direct action. My focus was on the economy and the Iraq War. I was once hog-tied for 28 hours and put in front of an industrial fan. Afterward, I had windburn all over my face. I was once arrested for making art in a public space—they charged me with criminal mischief.”

On Modeling:

“A few years ago, my friend Cass Bird said that she was photographing a story about a boy gang with Candice Swanepoel—but she was only shooting female models—and she asked if I wanted to join. Afterward, she gave my picture to an agent at Ford and I signed within the week. The contract lasted a year. In that year I did a Time magazine feature and AllSaints and Diesel campaigns, and Inez and Vinoodh shot me, and I did a 30-page or so editorial with Peter Lindbergh. But modeling wasn’t for me. It’s a phenomenal job and there are a handful of models who have the ability and intellect and fierceness and the business sense to pull it out, but it’s hard, hard work. I would rather focus on my art. I also have a book coming out next year. That said, I have a deep respect for fashion. There is something incredible about an industry where words and images are indelibly connected.”

On Love and Marriage:

“I first met my wife years ago when I was waitressing in the East Village. We were friends first; we always had an intense intellectual connection and a similar political background in social justice. I proposed to her on a train leaving the Baltimore station at sunset. ‘Baltimore’ by Nina Simone is her favorite song. But then I realized I didn’t have a suit, so I called Ryan McGinley and asked if I could borrow his black Balenciaga I used to wear around to Fashion Week parties—we called it Old Faithful. So I wore Old Faithful to City Hall with my leather jacket over it. Siri was in a white Dior jumpsuit, trenchcoat, and high heels covered in lipstick prints. Afterward, we had lunch at the Met by the sculpture garden and an anonymous person picked up our tab. That night we had dinner in the East Village and saw the movie Carol. It was December 1—World AIDS Day.”Read more at:simple prom dresses | formal dresses uk