Don Sumada ensures Laverne Cox fits perfectly on Time magazine
It’s easy to herald Laverne Cox’s cover on Time Magazine as a triumph for having the first transgender individual on the cover of such an iconic magazine, but doing so would minimize it. What Time Magazine has done is not just slap a celebrity from a popular show on their cover, but assume a cause célèbre. By putting Laverne on their cover they named the position of transgender Americans as American’s next civil rights frontier.
Our own Don Sumada got the chance to style Laverne for the Time cover shot by Peter Hapak, and be a part of this particular point in history. And everything happened very quickly. Don was called late on a Friday for the Monday morning shoot, but it wasn’t even a question for him. It was Laverne Cox on the cover of Time, so he said, “I’m definitely doing it.”
Time is a news magazine which means it’s their responsibility to stay on top of current events, and the cover can change at any moment. Any major event could steal the cover, but Laverne and Don knew that she was in the running for covering one of the most proto-American magazines in the country. They weren’t going to take it lightly. Don talks about their strategy for dressing Laverne by saying, “She loved very fitted dresses, sophisticated, showing her femininity and strength, and she gravitated towards the fitted dresses… She tried on about 8 of them.” They had to get it right.
When it comes to the gravity of the opportunity, it was easy for Don to leave the chaos of the dressing room behind. It’s a sobering thought and Don summed it up perfectly, “The time has come, it’s very brave and forward of [Time]… It’s about time these issues are the cover of magazine. On the mainstream cover.”