Following speculation that the recently-freed Chelsea Manning was to appear in the pages of Vogue, the glossy’s 125th Anniversary issue confirmed the rumours with a photoshoot lensed by Annie Leibovitz. Manning, who appears in the spread in a Norma Komali swimsuit, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for releasing classified information to WikiLeaks. Earlier this year, her sentence was commuted to seven years by President Barack Obama.
In the accompanying story by Nathan Heller, the former intelligence analyst discusses her newfound happiness, and what life feels like after being granted clemency. “It feels natural. It feels like it’s how it’s supposed to be, instead of this anxiety, this uncertainty, this ball of self-consciousness that comes with pretending to be male," she told Vogue. "It didn’t feel right. I didn’t know what it was. I couldn’t describe it. Now that’s gone."
As it is a feature in Vogue, the article also highlights several fashion details from Manning's new life, and her sense of personal style. To honour her occasion of "coming out" (unrelated to her announcement that she is transgender on the Today Show in 2013), Manning attended the after-party of the Lambda Literary Awards in a dress by Altuzarra, paired with Everlane ankle booties. A day after leaving prison, Manning posted a photo wearing a dress by Gabriela Hearst, which the profile reveals to be one of her favourite designers.
But the fashion notes didn't stop there. For the interview itself, Manning chose a get-up by another one of her favourites, Marc Jacobs, paired with — wait for it — a bag from The Row and boots by Vetements x Dr. Martens. Either Manning has been set up with a killer stylist, or fashion magazines have been a mainstay on her reading list for decades, because she knows her stuff. "I’ve been a huge fan of Marc Jacobs for many, many years, even going back to when I was wearing men’s clothing," she said. "He captures a kind of simplicity and a kind of beauty that I like — projecting strength through femininity.”
It seems Manning has come a long way from her days of sporting the green apron at Starbucks and hocking heritage-style goods at Abercrombie & Fitch. And good for her. We can't wait to see what she wears next.