Valentina’s Met Gala NFT Is Leading the Call to End Anti-Trans Violence

When challenged to meet the theme of “American Independence” for this year’s MET Gala, supermodel Valentina Sampaio began thinking earnestly about what it means to be an American in 2021.

For Sampaio, who has already made history several times throughout her career, the question couldn’t be answered without considering her own viewpoint as a trans woman born and raised in Brazil, a country with one of the world’s highest transgender murder rates. The stats are similarly harrowing across the US, where, according to Human Rights Campaign, at least 35 trans and gender non-conforming people – the vast majority of whom were Black trans women – have been murdered in 2021 so far.

If this homicide rate continues, the death toll will surpass last year’s to make 2021 the deadliest on record for trans people in the US.

Determined to make a visual statement highlighting the urgency of anti-trans violence, Sampaio began brainstorming with her agency, The Lions. The result is an arresting, ambitious multimedia project entitled “Lambada Dyed Red, White and Blue,” written and directed by Jesse Ball and Branislav Jankić, and created in collaboration with blockchain network LUKSO.

The beating heart of the project is a breathtaking CGI dress, currently being auctioned as an NFT (the crypto equivalent of a rare work of art) to fundraise for LGBTQ+ charities, whose print takes shape over the course of a two-minute video. As Sampaio recites a passionate monologue and names the victims of anti-trans murder, the dress starts to bleed with their symbolic blood. It’s a devastatingly poignant tribute, and one rooted in Sampaio’s hope that “art can restore humanity.”

A team of close collaborators worked tirelessly to bring the project to life, gathering an all-trans cast to shoot the video on a secluded beach. “I remember one moment where everyone just danced on set, the energy was electrifying,” recalled filmmaker Branislav Jankić. “It was so real and magnificent, so innocent. They laughed as if there was no tomorrow, and every one of us behind the camera was drawn in by this magic moment.” Writer Jesse Ball – also behind the camera – concurred, describing the happiness on-set as “contagious. I’ve never been on a set where so many people were smiling shyly in real joy,” he added.

Depicting the euphoria that comes with gathering trans communities in safe, welcoming environments is a key step forward in humanizing a community so often treated as an abstract issue, or a collective scapegoat. “There is a true chance, I think, to show America that the trans community need not be controversial,” continued Ball. “These loving people are our neighbors and friends.”

Spotlighting the beauty of trans communities has long been a focus for Sampaio, known for smashing through barriers in the fashion industry – from Vogue and Sports Illustrated covers to her historic signing as a Victoria’s Secret ambassador, her career has given hope to trans talent so often excluded from the fantasy worlds of high fashion. “I hope that young trans women can see women like us at the MET Gala and other cultural epicenters and come to know that trans women do belong,” she stated.

Crucially, Sampaio has also spent her career drilling down on specific issues rather than relying on broad political messages. In Brazil, she explains that legal rights such as name changes and the “principle of human dignity” often don’t translate into genuine protections for trans people. “There is very little tolerance and compassion, and the list of steps and documents required to change your legal name based on your gender identity is a real obstacle,” said Sampaio. Earlier this year, she teamed with Starbucks for award-winning campaign “I Am,” which transformed local stores into pop-up legal offices where trans people were able to have their names legally changed on official documents, free of charge.

These barriers become even more insurmountable when factors like precarious migrant status and other forms of discrimination, like racism and ableism, are factored in. “Many trans people are rejected by their families,” she continued, highlighting the reasons so many trans communities are disproportionately vulnerable. “This rejection leads to homelessness, lack of access to education and measures like sex work as a means for survival.”

In the US, emphasis on trans visibility has led to “a broader understanding of the experiences of people who are transgender,” said Sampaio. Yet this doesn’t necessarily mean the material realities of being trans have improved. “Violence against our communities has continued to rise, and I know that more than 100 anti-trans bills have been proposed this year – that’s the most in US history by conservative lawmakers. Thirteen of those bills have passed.”

In other words, projects like “Lambada Dyed Red, White and Blue” are just as urgent, if not more so, than ever. “I’m honored to have had this experience,” concluded Sampaio. “I’m speaking my truth and I reflect what’s dear to my heart. I try to lead by example and plant seeds of acceptance, but ultimately, I stand for any and everyone who, like me, suffers prejudice for not fitting into society’s standards.”

To find out more about the project (and bid on the ongoing auction) head here.

Phillips Will Unearth a Rare Rolex “Deep Sea Special” at Auction

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Phillips is bringing the Formula One of timepieces to the Geneva Watch Auction in November.

For the first time in 12 years, a Rolex “Deep Sea Special,” an exceedingly rare model developed for divers, will hit the market. Only five of the water-resistant, pressure-proof watches have ever been sold in the public sphere — most are on display at museums, including the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and the Piccard Museum Nyon in Switzerland.

Phillips values the watch — a model from 1965 — at CHF 1.2 to 2.4 million (approximately $1.31 to $2.6 million).

Responding to newfound demand for waterproof watches, Rolex began developing the Deep Sea Special in 1950. Taking its famed Oyster case to an entirely new level, the Swiss watchmaker worked with oceanographer Jacques Piccard to engineer a model outfitted with a domed crystal, able to withstand extreme pressure.

From 1953 to 1960, Piccard completed a series of dives with the watch, eventually submerging it over 10,000 meters (32,800 feet) underwater.

Rolex is no stranger to high-value sales. In 2017, Paul Newman’s Daytona fetched $17.8 million, setting the world record for a wristwatch at auction. One year later, an 18-karat white gold, Oyster-cased Daytona sold for $6.5 million, thanks to its one-of-a-kind nature (it’s the only white gold vintage Daytona in existence) and notable provenance (famed collector John Goldberger owned the watch).

Though the Deep Sea Special may only fetch up to $2.6 million (chump change, compared to the Paul Newman) the watch represents a significant moment in Rolex history. As for the timepiece’s eventual owner, we have one question: do you dare take it for a dive?

On’s Race to the NY Stock Exchange Is Only the Beginning

Following reports last month, On has now officially been listed on the New York Stock Exchange. A group of 100 runners, including all five co-founders of the Swiss sportswear brand, made their way through Manhattan and over to Wall Street to ring the stock exchange’s famous bell.

Sources previously reported that On was hoping to reach a valuation of $5 billion. On is one of the fastest-growing sportswear brands in the world, having taken the running world by storm over the past 10 years and slowly but steadily establishing itself in the lifestyle market as well. On’s half-year sales numbers in 2021 grew 85 percent when compared to the same period in 2020.

In addition to impressive numbers, the brand also passes the eye test. More and more people are wearing On sneakers in big cities and, while the big brands still dominate, you’d be surprised by how many On sneakers you’ll see on the street.

On hopes that its listing on the NYSE will help the brand keep its independence and continue its phase of hyper-growth into the future. The IPO, paired with On’s impressive momentum, and the fact that fellow Swiss legend Roger Federer is on board as a co-entrepreneur, lay solid foundations for future success.

Stay tuned for more information on On’s public offering. In the meantime, check out our favorite On sneakers here.

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HBO is no longer available through Amazon Prime Channels

HBO's subscriber numbers will take a hit after it disappears from Amazon Prime Video Channels today. Earlier this month, Amazon told users who signed up for HBO through Channels their $15/month plans would be canceled on September 15th with pro-rated refunds being issued.

In all, HBO is expected to lose around 5 million subscribers as part of this move, which WarnerMedia agreed with Amazon last year. Amazon refused to support HBO Max if it wasn't available through Channels. According to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO may offer its former Amazon subscribers a discount to persuade them to sign up to HBO Max.

That's what this shift is all about for WarnerMedia: cutting out the middleman and having a direct connection to viewers through HBO Max. It's willing to lose some subscribers in the short-term to make that happen, so it can, for instance, personalize the HBO Max home page. WarnerMedia removed HBO as premium add-ons on Apple TV and Roku for similar reasons.

The HBO Max app is available on Amazon Fire TV devices. Those who switched from HBO on Prime Video to HBO Max on Fire TV shouldn't encounter any disruptions when the former disappears from channels, THR notes.

Meanwhile, Amazon is hoping people will subscribe to other premium channels. It's offering discounts on Paramount+, Starz and Showtime plans. You can pay 99 cents per month for two months if you sign up by Friday.

Aesop’s Othertopias Fragrance Collection is a Sensory Adventure

An adventure across landscapes, triggered by the senses – Aesop continues its expansion into fragrance with the three-piece Othertopias collection.

Naturally, when you take the name of a Greek fabulist and storyteller, there is an expectation for your products to offer a sense of enrichment – an escape into fantasy, if you will. With its distinctly modern approach to prestigious branding, famed interior design, and tempting of the senses, Aesop has succeeded in living up to its name.

Internationally recognized first as a skincare brand, Aesop’s growth over the last 34 years has expanded its product categories to cater to all corners of the bathroom through hair, soap, and fragrance.

Upon stepping into one of Aesop’s international storefronts, the brand’s attention to captivating sight and smell is presented with complete clarity. Each retail space developed in collaboration with various architects, interior designers, and artists is a staging area for the bewitchment of the nose.

If we’re to be frank, the scents of Aesop can be an enchanting experience, and where its new Othertopias fragrance collection is concerned, enchantment is precisely what it’s aiming for.

Aesop’s fragrance partner, Barnabé Fillion explains: “A smell, whether in the air, on our skin, or on our clothes, creates a world within our world that is both physical and imagined—a phenomenon that blurs the boundaries of past and present, real and unreal, here and there. A window into nature, so to speak, one that invites a dialogue with surroundings that we inhabit but often overlook. As always, collaborations with Aesop are steered by science and wonder, manifesting in this instance as a journey through spaces that make us engage our senses, ask us to look differently, and encourage us to imagine.”

The three-piece offering of Eau de Parfum boasts a genderless, unorthodox, premium approach to scent. Inspired by the natural and physical world – namely the boat, the shore, and the wasteland – each borrows characteristics of these environments, such as spice, minerals, and florals.

Aesop’s Othertopias collection is available online and in stores now, bringing “Miraceti,” “Karst,” and “Erémia” into the brand’s growing fragrance lineup.