The Rain Dove effect
Roxy Bourdillon goes backstage with the revolutionary model, activist and influencer
L + R
It’s the first-ever London Queer Fashion Show and Hackney Showroom is buzzing about the presence of one of the hottest androgynous models on the planet. The 6’2” vision pounds the runway for menswear-that-women-wear label du jour, Thomas Thomas. Then, right before she exits stage left, she turns back to the audience and grabs her chest in both hands. The crowd erupts.
Rain Dove – “Rain like from the sky, Dove like the bird” – is not your standard-issue supermodel. For one thing, she doesn’t give a damn about clothes. “It’s so weird that I’m a model right now. I don’t even like fashion.” Granted, she’s statuesque and striking with chiselled features and pouty lips, but she doesn’t resemble the omnipresent Victoria’s Secret angel aesthetic, a point she illustrated perfectly, and headline-grabbingly, when she shot her own photo series wearing the company’s racy lingerie. Her distinctive look has become her USP in a notoriously competitive industry, earning her gigs with iconic magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Elle, and for menswear and womenswear mega-brands at fashion week.
Moments after she’s left the catwalk, we’re backstage together. It’s hot, sweaty and electric with models of all shapes, ethnicities and gender identities in varying states of undress. We step out into the cool night air and pick a ledge to perch on. Because so much of Rain’s work deliberately challenges the gender binary, I’m conscious of the journalistic imperative to double-check about preferred pronouns. “A pronoun is just a sound for me and all I’m looking for in that sound is positivity. DIVA is a societally female-driven magazine so you’re welcome to use ‘she’. I went on a thing where I asked people to call me ‘it’ for a long time. People get really upset when you ask them to call you ‘it’. The reason I did that experiment was to prove just how uncomfortable a pronoun can be for many people. It’s such a subjective thing, with history and oppression and meaning behind it. It’s not just ‘he’ or ‘she’, it’s telling you where you fucking belong.” Talking to Rain is an intense experience; things get deep fast. She’s overflowing with existential thoughts and motivational mantras. “I am I” and “Educate, don’t hate” are two of her go-tos. Big ideas bubble and spark as her agile mind darts about. “No commercial break, right? I just go and go like the energiser bunny.”
Read the rest of our cover interview with Rain Dove in the March issue of DIVA, available to buy in print or digitally here.
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