Model and trans activist Maxim Magnus on the power of self-love


“Anyone who is brave enough to stand out from the crowd. Those people inspire me.”

LOUIS VUITTON jacket, top and skirt.

"Self-love is something very subjective. To me, it means being able to look at yourself in different ways and accepting yourself as an entity. You don’t have to love every part of you, but once you learn to accept those parts, you’ll start to love them.”

Naked, in her purest state – this is when Maxim Magnus feels most powerful. And true to her mantra, Magnus’s self-assured energy radiates past the page and screen. Openness and authenticity is Magnus embodied, feeling most at home with friends and her best amidst the sweet ritual of ‘getting ready’ (even if she’s only going out for an hour). For the Belgium-born, London-based model, this  strong sense of self is balanced by empathy (she’ll always seek out the shyest person in the room), along with a willingness to be vulnerable that comes with the territory of being a trans activist – via her social media accounts and beyond.

LOUIS VUITTON jacket and brooch.

When addressing her audience, Magnus does so from a place of quiet inquiry, urging her followers to think openly and critically about LGBTQIA+ issues that are integral to the safety and equity of those living within her community, an ode to her lived experience.

With campaigns and runway appearances for the likes of Fendi, Giambattista Valli and Alessandra Rich to her name, we’re hardly the only ones taking notice. But self-acceptance will always come first for Magnus, whether it’s that pixie-cut hair or the way she uses her voice, fortified from moving through life as her most authentic self.

“Activism means ... trying to share your vision with the world for the greater good, no matter what obstacles are in your way.”

LOUIS VUITTON dress and pants.
LOUIS VUITTON coat, shirt and belt.

Where is home for you?
I can feel at home in a lot of places because I moved around when I was younger. I’d have to say, wherever my friends and family are. Antwerp is where my family is, but London is where my friends are, and they’re a part of my family too. 

What do you desire most?
To live in a world where my existence isn’t questioned all the time.

When do you feel most powerful?
When I’m naked.

What’s your favourite mode of self-expression?
Naked but make it fashion.

What’s the first thing you notice about somebody when they walk into a room?
How someone holds themselves. I can tell a lot about someone by the way they carry themselves through the room. I’m always attracted to the people who shy away from others, those will always be the people I talk to first. 

How has cutting off your hair touched your perspective on femininity? 
It showed me that I can feel beautiful and like the woman I am, even though people might not see me as one. 

How do you deal with impulses? Do or don’t?
I’m a very impulsive person, but I’m also very realistic, so I always look for a balance. If I had to choose, I’d say do! Life’s too short, and I hate those ‘what if’ moments. 

How do you ‘get ready’?
I put on music, have a coffee, and live my best life. Getting ready is my favourite part of the day. 

How would you describe your personal style?
I couldn’t describe my personal style, it changes every day. If I had to choose one word to describe it, I would go with glamour.

What is the change you want to see in the industry this year?
People being held accountable for their actions. Less waste of money, resources, and people’s time. Honesty is the best policy. 

LOUIS VUITTON coat and shirt.
LOUIS VUITTON jacket, shirt, skirt and brooch.
LOUIS VUITTON vest, shirt and bag.

"I’m quite the geek when it comes to space. I’d love to move to Mars one day."

LOUIS VUITTON vest, top, skirt and belt.
LOUIS VUITTON jacket, shirt, skirt and brooch.

Do you dress to feel desired – by yourself or by others?
I dress for me. So I can look at myself in the mirror and think ‘Damn, she’s a snack.’

Quiet nights or parties?
Definitely quiet nights. I love a good party, but I can also go out for an hour and then go back to my cocoon. I much prefer a night in with friends than being out. 

Sunrise or sunset?
I’d have to say sunrise but, to be honest, I’m never awake early enough to catch it. But when I do, on those very rare occasions, I love it. I think there’s a sadness that comes with sunsets, so I try to avoid them. 

What’s your ultimate feel-good remedy?
Eating good food with friends. Cuddling dogs. Putting on heels. Singing at the top of my lungs. 

Who inspires you?
Anyone who is brave enough to stand out from the crowd. Those people inspire me. 

What inspires you?
Music or movies are where I get my inspiration. 

What’s on your reading list?
I don’t love to read, but I’m currently reading a book by Stephen Hawking.

Could you tell us about a moment that changed your life?
A moment that changed my life was when I finally found what I loved doing and seeing my mom be proud of me. She always looked at me with great sadness because she knew I was struggling so much. She’s always been proud of me, but to be able to see me smile has brought her happiness and that brings me happiness as well

LOUIS VUITTON jacket and brooch.

PHOTOGRAPHY Annelise Phillips
FASHION Anna Foster
TALENT Maxim Magnus
HAIR Carl Campbell @ Carol Hayes Management using Bumble and bumble
MAKEUP Amanda Grossman @ The Wall Group using Omorovicza and delilah

Special thanks to Sarah Gibbs.