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RELAPSE Ian Frisch

Founder, Editor in Chief

Max Louis Miller

Curt Everitt

Meghan Hilliard

Ise White

Art Director

Managing Editor

Molly Goldrick

Online Photography Editor

Kelsey Paine Abby Kron Alexander Tirpack Staff Writers

Gabrielle Lipton Contributing Writer

Jessica Lehrman Michael Tessier Cole Barash Staff Photographers

Creative Vice President

Fashion Director

Tyler Mitchell Photography Editor

Jordan Adoni Jonathan Bookallil Anthony Blue Jr. David Needleman Griffin Lotz Daymion Mardel Dawidh Orlando Patrick Postle Arthur Belebeau Amber Gray Jesse-Leigh Elford Billy Jim Sarah Kjelleren Contributing Photographers

On the Cover

PHOTOGRAPH DAWIDH ORLANDO STYLING MICHAEL TUCKER HAIR SHINYA NAKAGAWA MAKE UP FUMI NAKAGAWA PHOTO ASSISTANT FRANCESCO CARACCIOLO MODEL KATIA KOKOREVA at MUSE

Dress HERVE LEGER by MAX AZRIA Jacket, CD GREENE

PUBLISHED BY RELAPSE MEDIA INC in BROOKLYN, NY PRINTED by BILL DUERR at HATTERAS in NEW YORK, NY


Contents.

8 10 12 16 18 20 22 32 42 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120

The Mentalist Dane Blurred Lines An Afternoon in Paris At War With Fashion Skin Deep Lord Willing Align Heat Emerge In Somnis The Culled Scarlet Out There R Memories Lost She Said Destroy One


EDITOR’S LETTER

What You’d Least Expect

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didn’t move to New York City expecting to get into fashion. I just wanted to write about people and why they did what they did. I wanted to explore a culture, living in New England my entire life, that was completely foreign to me. I wanted to understand and embrace a way of living that seemed culturally advanced to my upbringing, a future that hung in the distance like a persistently glowing green light, beaming through the fog of my young adulthood like like a beacon of hope. And I think, in the end, I came to this place and started this magazine to try and find something out about myself that wasn’t there before. To explore myself in a new way. From Alexander Tirpack’s dissection of Danish designer Asger Juel Larsen, spilling with bones and machinery; Gabrielle Lipton’s exploration of androgyny in fashion; my own look into the off-the-runway ambitions of supermodel Shaun Ross; to Arthur Belebeau’s red-laced, deconstructed editorial; Michael Tessier’s layered, street-grunge shoot; and Molly Goldrick’s exclusive story featuring South Korean menswear line Resurrection, this issue encompasses all that is the theory of expression through clothing—and, moreover, the interpretation of fashion through the eyes of a photographer, a proponent of narrative, emotion, the human form and environment. A storyteller. As this issue came together, a body of worked dedicated to the concept of clothing and its creative foundation, I understood that, as Relapse has evolved, the fog has cleared slightly—that green light beaming with a larger breadth than I could’ve imagined, engulfing me, now, with a love for the art of fashion and fashion photography. An artform that is a large chunk within the foundation of New York, a place that I hope to find myself in. A place, in the end, where you’re able to discover traits about yourself that you never knew were there. Here, and perhaps only here, is where you’re able to find what you’d least expect. Ian Frisch, Editor in Chief


The Machine. Jesse-Leigh Elford & Juanel de Forêt The South African photographer/production duo of Jesse-Leigh Elford and Juanel de Forêt make their debut in Relapse with “Emerge,” a beauty editorial penned with their signature soft and ethereal aesthetic. With a near-decade-long romantic involvement under their belt, the team has been working together professionally for three years and have built a substantial precense in beauty, fashion, advertising photography and production in South Africa.

Gabrielle Lipton Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Gabrielle moved to New York in 2012 and, after working briefly at both New York Magazine and Travel + Leisure, has since earned bylines in publications including Slate, Filmmaker, IndieWIRE and NYMag.com. When words fail her, she turns to her secondary passion: making unusual flavors of ice cream. Rose water mascarpone aided in the writing of her fourth piece for Relapse, “Blurred Lines,” a look into androgyny in Fall/Winter 2013 fashion.

Molly Goldrick A longtime contributor to Relapse, Molly Goldrick comes on as the neweset staff memeber as Online Photography Editor. Since beginning her career in photography as Studio Manager and assistant to Glen Luchford, Molly has since taken photographs of Adriana Lima, Karolina Kurkova, Channing Tatum, Paul Rudd and Chris Helmsworth, along with numerous EDM artists, another facet, besides fashion, to her scope in photography. For this issue of Relapse, Molly gets the exclusive opportunity to shoot the dark, edgy South Korean menswear line Resurrection in “R.”

Anthony Blue Jr. Making his debut in Relapse, capturing A$AP Ferg, Anthony grew up in Dallas, Texas and studied fine arts at the University of Nebraska, where he played first-string cornerback. After getting injured, he aimed his sites at taking his long-time love for photography to New York City, in which he sold three paintings to afford the trip here. Since his relocation, he has photographed the likes of A$AP Rocky, Theophilus London, Joey Bada$$, Amber Rose, Dom Kennedy, Asher Roth and Bodega Bamz.


The Mentalist Dane

Designer Asger Juel Larsen fucks with your body and brain, one bone at a time WORDS ALEXANDER TIRPACK PHOTOGRAPHS GRIFFIN LOTZ

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sger Juel Larsen likes clichés. It’s an unusual thing to admit, especially for a designer on the fast track to being one of the best in high fashion, but taking just a peek inside the mind of Larsen exposes the inner workings of a brain wrapped up in military history, skateboarding, hardcore and techno music, and the skeletal structure of the human body. For the Danish-based designer, the juxtaposition of these and other interests help cull the spirit of creativity on display in nearly every one of his pieces. His work is more art than design, as one can sit and stare at piece for a lengthy period of time and still not catch every nuance of the hand-drawn patterns uniformly placed on each swath of carefully chosen fabrics. Discovering these little bits of influence in Larsen’s work plays tricks on the mind, as going from mechanical looking bones to uniformed straight-lines and dabs of gothic flare is not an easy jump. In fact, it’s cliché that the mind wants to ignore, but the collection just won’t let it.

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In a few other profiles, Larsen is quoted saying he draws influence from his youth, and in many ways, that is true. But it is more than the generic “my parents bought me an easel and a paint set when I was younger” type of inspiration. To understand Larsen’s infatuation with cliché and its application to creativity, upbringing certainly played a part, as did his involvement with subcultures. “I definitely draw inspiration from my youth,” Larsen said while sitting at his booth at the Liberty trade show in SoHo. “Skateboarding, the hardcore scene, those were more of the pop type things I was involved in. But on my mom’s side, everyone is creative. I was taught how to knit at a young age, and that’s not something you talk about when you’re skateboarding, being on the soft side.” Larsen’s interest in dragging design into the world of extremes eventually took him from his native Copenhagen to the London School of Fashion, where he earned both his BA and MA in design, but also the respect of his peers and a new


perspective on the world of fashion. It was in London where he learned to tame some of his ideas, and enrage some of the others. “The craziness of this mix, a lot of that came out of London,” he said. “I redid myself. Meeting all these people at the design school, it loosened me up. So the structure, and all the tailoring and the military history, [led me to] always combine things. I never go in one direction.” Like any graduate, once the commencement has passed, it’s time to move on. For Larsen, this meant moving back to Copenhagen and building his company from the ground up. And while he has spent the past five years doing so, it didn’t take long for the right people to notice. He has been noted as a “designer to watch” by everyone from Rolling Stone to Vogue to the kids on the street looking for new gear. Again, this plays into his method of creation as well as a strong statement on society. Each of Larsen’s past seasonal collections have striking names filled with contrasting imagery, but clarity in concept: Goth Legion, CCTV on Fire, Lucid Disorder, are a few examples. His latest is called “A Triple Distilled Dream,” and while it is all brand new work, it’s inception is undeniably born through the brain waves of a mad scientist on acid watching a documentary on the French Foreign Legion. One of Larsen’s favorite pieces from the SS14 collection is a neoprene jacket/pant combo emboldened with digital prints of golden metallic bones, twisted around each other in a way that invokes an MC Escher drawing. And yet, because of its pairing, the set adheres to the uniform influence born out of Larsen’s interest in military history. As perhaps the only customary aspect of Larsen’s work, the piece is hand drawn, and together with an animator friend, it took two weeks to get the prints set for Larsen’s approval. “It’s a salute to H.R. Giger, who did the Alien movies in the 80s,” Larsen said, beaming about the piece. “I wanted digital sci-fi and I always want to tell a good story. I don’t want, ‘this is sheepskin with structured shoulders,’ I’d rather give a feeling to people.” It’s that target for reaction that has launched the Asger Juel Larsen label to its present state, but that’s not all Larsen has up his sleeve. His diffusion line, A.J.L. Madhouse, has also caught the attention of the masses, thanks to its affordability, tongue-incheek humor, and adherence to the identity of the main company. Off-fitting sweatshirts with phrases like “Marilyn Madhouse” printed on them like graffiti on the walls of a rave cave, or a t-shirt covered with faces of cats stating “Not All Pussies Are The Same,” provoke the brain to a point of wanting to wear it just to piss off the authorities, or the guy from Wall Street on a date with a woman who has no interest in him besides his wallet. Originally meant as a way for Larsen to break out of high fashion and put his bad jokes on ill-fitting shirts, Madhouse is now much more commercial than intended. “It was never meant to be cool, “ Larsen said. “But apparently it is. I’m sure in a year’s time it will take over the main line in terms of sales.” Making sales and landing his line in more boutiques is certainly at the forefront of Larsen, but not without a signature opposition to a society he sees as “created through the click of a mouse on a computer game.” Though he’s careful not to paint himself as a political figure, Larsen undeniably has an under-

standing for the resistance to authority found throughout the world. The CCTV on Fire Line is a no-nonsense commentary on this, as is apparent in both its name and design—many of the pieces in the line feature masks or balaclavas. While he admits there is a place for security and surveillance, he sees it going too far. “Society has too many depictions of people. I mean, I can’t have a cigarette in front of a door,” he said. “Eventually, people will go mental. Let people live their lives. Have them grow up educated enough to make their own decisions, and if they’re not, I still think they’ll do the right thing because of the feeling in their hearts.” Social commentary is yet but another piece to the ongoing Larsen puzzle, and between the myriad of interests he exhibits, it’s impossible to pin all of them down at once. In a way, he is a psychologist’s nightmare and yet gentle enough to babysit your kid. How else would one describe someone whose fascination with bones will take him on a vacation to the Sedlec Ossuary, a cathedral in the Czech Republic famous for housing the skeletal remains of 40,000-70,000 people, but can knit you a pair of socks on the flight over? It doesn’t matter, because Larsen’s true passion lies in design and patterns. “I have a library of patterns now. That’s my art,” he said of the work he’s done over the past five years. “Like, if the studio is on fire, that’s the fucking box I’m grabbing on my way out.” The hope is that the studio doesn’t catch fire, but if it does, and he saves that box, the result will still be more stunningly complex concepts, wrapped in smoke or doused with water, short-circuiting the brain and yet demanding your full attention.

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FOUNDER AND HEAD DESIGNER OF GRYPHON, AIMEE CHO

Blurred Lines

From tailored trousers to boxy silhouettes, menswear options are no longer just for the boys WORDS GABRIELLE LIPTON PORTRAIT MOLLY GOLDRICK

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et’s consider all the sex changes clothing has undergone over the centuries: Pleated skirts were Scottish menswear, French hommes embraced pastels and block heels, Chinese men of status used nail polish colors to distinguish social class. Men didn’t even begin to cut their hair short until the Victorian era, which strictly divided the sexes in all spheres of life, making androgynous fashions uncouth—that is, until Chanel feminized the pantsuit, Yves Saint Laurent popularized Le Smoking jacket and American designers such as Calvin Klein brought sportswear to the masses. Now, every cross-gender trend has come, gone and come again. Tunics, button-downs, florals and skirts are no longer relegated to runways for one sex or the other, and with the likes of Andrej Pejic and Erika Linder, neither are the models. Masculine has meant beautiful, feminine has meant handsome, and if the four adjectives were designated sides of a buying showroom, we’re headed straight toward the middle where all lines cross.

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The likes of Dries van Noten and Comme des Garçons are built on crossover fashions, but the quiet revolutionaries seem to be the fresh-faced designers whose more affordable clothing is giving blurred gender lines more definition. Womenswear designer Jonathan Simkhai, whose first collection in 2010 of darkly preppy separates launched him into an orbit adored by the likes of CFDA and Bergdorf Goodman, pushes his materialization of classic staples to the very edge of tomboyishness. Leather abounds in his repertoire, as do variations of houndstooth and stripes. “If I’m showing some skin on a shorter dress, it is going to be made out of a masculine material with a sporty piping as a detail,” Simkhai said after having listed sport uniforms from the 60s and ska bands from the 80s as inspirations. Patchwork denim was his textile of choice for both a jumpsuit and shirtdress in his Resort 2014 collection, both of which conservatively court the female form rather than accentuate and flatter it. “The brand was built on the idea that one of my girl friends could borrow one of


my baggy shirts and throw on heels and head out the door feeling sexy.” Gryphon, too, has purported a uniform-influenced appeal since it launched in 2007. “I started with the trench coat,” says the founder and head designer, Aimee Cho. “I’ve always been really drawn to military influence, and the trench is based in military tradition and elements that people might think of as being traditionally more male than female.” Past collections have been heavy with both masculine trousers and embellished tees, but Cho is currently rebranding Gryphon as an outerwear-only label. “I never wear anything that I’m not comfortable in, but I’m comfortable wearing many different types of styles. By focusing on just one genre of clothing, I can really explore the breadth of it.” Gender included. In her fall ready-to-wear collection, a knit camouflaged topcoat intermingles with a cashmere bomber and canvas peacoat collared with fur. “Polished” pops up in many collection reviews, but her designs assert more than just safe chic—they’re sharp. Although tailored for women, Cho’s pieces are emblematic of the jackets and blazers worn by the Pitti Uomo men Scott Schuman man-crushes on in his blog, The Sartorialist. There’s a knee coat with an asymmetrical pocket, a shrunken khaki blazer and a square-shouldered puffer. In a foil to Simkhai’s girl, a daring boy could grab one of her boxier pieces and embrace a touch of femininity. As for one of the power players in this game of red rover with the sexes, Stella McCartney has been gender blending silhouettes since her days at Central Saint Martins (and nights in London’s exceedingly androgynous Soho club district). Launching her own line in 2001 after stepping down as creative direc-

tor of Chloé, McCartney’s all-encompassing androgynous niché has proved popular enough to become a globalized brand. Unstructured dresses, pleated pants, thin lapels and polo collars have often been pranced down her runways, as have pinstripes, herringbones and double-breasted suits—not surprising, given her early training on Savile Row. In a New York Times Magazine profile of the designer, one of her best friends, documentary film producer Andrea Barron, summed her up as being, “as male as she is female. She’s as feminine as she is strong.” Name any unisex trend, and chances are McCartney was one of the first to set it. Pajamas as clothes. Jumpsuits. Graphic tees intermix with suit pieces in her first collection, Spring/Summer 2002, and her most recent, Fall/Winter 2013. When McCartney was initially appointed at Chloé, her predecessor, Karl Lagerfeld, discredited the choice, which now seems ironic, as she increasingly proves to be a modern-day Coco. Her woman is dominant and bold but not without a decidedly refined politesse—qualities admired in self-aware men, too. This is in no way a farewell to gowns or foreshadowing a closing of McCartney’s former classrooms on the Row. At a basic level, there will always be two sides to every Gap; men’s and women’s bodies are different, as are many inherent tastes. But the dialogue is changing, and phrases such as, “borrowing from the boys” are becoming outdated; what was once borrowed is now taken, entrenched. Maybe the phrase to revisit is “back to basics” but with chambrays and skinny jeans clothing both sexes instead of togas and kimonos. (The nail polish was never removed.) It appears we’ve always been more comfortable this way.

GRYPHON’S GENDER-BENDING FALL/WINTER 2013 COLLECTION

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Pink Bralette, Underwear TOPSHOP White Tee ALEXANDER WANG Black Leather Jacket BLK DNM Paris Sweater WILDFOX COUTURE Grey Underwear XIRENA Drawstring Shorts AMERICAN APPAREL Silver Ring in all KAREN LONDON Snake and Silver Rings, Cuff in all VANESSA MOONEY Serpent Gold Cuffs JENNY BIRD

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At War with Fashion

Husband and wife duo Roman Milisic and MJ Diehl flip the industry on its head, redefining what it means to be a tastemaker

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WORDS ABBY KRON PHOTOGRAPH SARAH KJELLEREN

n 1999, downtown New York City was alight with opulent parties, crazy fashion, and blaring music. Any given night played host to a bevy of celebrities and scenesters intermingling at events offering swag bags and experiences not soon to be forgotten even when coupled with an abundance of free alcohol. Photographer David Lachapelle, who was very active in the downtown party scene, was particularly known for throwing wild parties to celebrate his book releases. On nights like these, it was not uncommon to encounter a tipsy Amanda Lepore wearing nothing but a wine glass and a fake tan perched on the lap of female hip-hop star Lil’ Kim. It was amongst the expected chaos of such a party that Roman Milisic, who served as a book editor for the famed photographer, and Brooklyn native Mary Jo “MJ” Diehl first crossed paths. “There are two versions to how we met,” laughed Milisic. “The cool version is I feel like we were stealing a bottle of champagne together. How it actually went down—and the more romantic version—David had hired a magician, who was doing all this amazing magic. I was so caught up in it that I just grabbed the person next to me, who happened to be MJ.”

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Bold personalities who loved fashion wholeheartedly, Milisic and Diehl began collaborating on design projects together. Their goal was to infuse the liveliness and excitement you might expect at one of these parties into the experience of making and wearing clothing. The label’s most extensive projects emerge from a desire to slash the curtain of exclusivity shrouding the industry and make high fashion accessible to the streets. “We wanted to mass produce the experience, not the garment,” said Diehl. “Allowing everyone into the fabulous world of creativity, fashion—everyone is literally in fashion, but no one is actually in the exclusive world of fashion.” At the time Diehl, whose initial goal was to become the first white female rapper, was already working in fashion taking various styling gigs. “My first job in fashion was actually assisting on this set with Meryl Streep, who is an awesome woman,” reminisced Diehl. “I came into the place and I had some completely fucking insane pants on, dressed completely inappropriately—you know, what the fuck did I know? And she said, ‘I love your pants.’ I’m sitting there telling Meryl Streep, ‘I just got them for like 40 bucks, got them here, their totally cheap’—like she


couldn’t buy like the entire store. She said, ‘Yeah, but can I buy a body like yours? And then she made everyone lunch.” Three years after they met, the two founded House of Diehl, a fashion label and agency specializing in one-of-a-kind design and interactive events. Now married with a child, Diehl and Milisic have since expanded the label into a platform for discovering new and emerging design stars with an unusual eye and quick hands. Now an established foothold of avant garde design in New York, House of Diehl has already dressed the likes of Gwen Stefani and Lady Gaga. The wish to help other design talent gain exposure is partially what led them to create Style Wars, a live competition during which designers use an assortment of random materials to create an “instant couture” look in under five minutes. “With Style Wars, we go across the country and we put people in a pressure cooker and make them create something amazing in a few minutes,” said Milisic. “Fashion is, after all, a three-minute pop song.” “We are fashion rock and roll, we are fashion mash-up, we are the best night of your life, we are really about creating an experience,” added Diehl. “It’s never about the dress and the shoes, rather the experience of the dress and the shoes. Fashion is your passport— to a great night out, to a dude you want to meet, to a girl you want to meet, to a better job.” Drawing inspiration from street culture and music, Milisic embraces the original punk movement referencing Sex Pistols and Vivienne Westwood as two of his biggest influences while Diehl admits she is more Beastie Boys than Balenciaga. “I grew up in Brooklyn and what they did with hip-hop music was turn it upside down and inside out,” said Diehl. “We’re doing that with fashion and style.” Each time Style Wars goes on tour—with both domestic and international dates—the new talent and creations that appear on stage prove to be nothing short of astonishing. Diehl and Milisic, who have gone on to collaborate with many of the participants in their show appreciate the fearless and innovative techniques of these “style battlers.” “Every single person that gets up on that stage is an influence to us,” said Milisic. “A thousand amazing innovative kids across America have come up with more interesting, more relevant, and more mind-blowing shit than six people doing a catwalk show in Paris.” One of the chief reasons the design couple began the live design competition was to provide opportunity to new or unknown designers who did not necessarily have the means or the confidence to pursue their craft. Some notable Style Wars alums include jewelry designer Chris Habana and Johannesburgbased label Strangelove, which designed the Olympic costumes for South Africa last year. “When we started all this, we would go out and everyone was cool as fuck—it was a great scene in downtown New York,” said Milisic. “You would see Hedi Slimane or Karl Lagerfeld, who were going out to try to soak up all of the great ideas. We’re

just skipping that guy out and going to the source.” “Rather than stealing from the innovators, why not support them,” added Diehl, “What if you have a great idea, a million dollar idea, but only two bucks in the bank account?” While Style Wars may seem similar to the competition reality show Project Runway, Diehl and Milisic assure that it is “cooler, better, with twice as much edge, and more creative.” And it is. “Style battlers” are expected to create looks out of anything from pool inflatables to plastic bags in only four minutes. Meanwhile, music is blaring over the hundreds of showgoers cheering loudly for their favorite contestant. Diehl said it’s not uncommon for people in the audience to strip down, participating in the already chaotic spectacle at hand. “Whether it’s politics or Prada, you’re part of the solution or you’re part of the problem,” said Diehl. “We’re solving some problems here: shitty parties, boring fashion, and a lack of opportunity for super creative people.” The definitive Encyclopedia of Street Culture recently featured House of Diehl alongside the likes of David Lachapelle and Banksy—and for good reasons. The label literally brings fashion to the street with projects like “Autograph.” In 2010, the house created a denim jacket to fit the body of a 1967 Camaro RS. Milisic and Diehl, Sharpies in hand, drove around NYC beckoning everyone from traffic cops and hot dog vendors to school children to leave their signature on the denim-covered hot rod. The strips of denim would later be converted into a series of couture garments. “The title came from the idea of getting people to be part of the creative process,” said Milisic. “You could have this notion of a fabric that contains a multiplicity of signature, tags, and images created by people on the street and then that could somehow end up on the back of Kate Moss as a denim jacket in an editorial for W Magazine. It’s amazing.” Milisic and Diehl occupy a small niche within the industry—their disinclination to join the ranks of what they call the “fashion army” means they operate under a different set of rules and goals. “I think, instead, we are creating a new army of individuals,” said Diehl. “To me, there’s nothing more fabulous and inspirational in life [than seeing someone support themselves with their creative work]. Can you do what you love and pay your rent—even if it’s in a shithole?” This fierce outspokenness about the industry might cause some to categorize House of Diehl as part of the antifashion movement; however, it is Milisic and Diehl’s vigorous love for style and design in what they consider its most authentic form that encapsulates what fashion should be all about. “I wouldn’t say we are anti-fashion, we are anti-fashion industry,” said Diehl. “We love fashion, which is why we have chosen to use all of our considerable time, energy doing it—this is a labor of love here. The industry makes it challenging for very creative people to get their ideas out there, but fashion is absolutely fabulous, wonderful, and exciting. I’ve spent more time in stores looking at shit and taking shit apart than anywhere else. We are pro-fashion. [We are] anti-boring fashion.”

“We’re solving some problems here: shitty parties, boring fashion, and lack of opportunity for creative people.”

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Skin Deep

African American supermodel Shaun Ross turns his albinism into advocacy WORDS IAN FRISCH PHOTOGRAPHS DAVID NEEDLEMAN

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t was ten minutes after noon and Square Diner on Leonard Street in TriBeCa started to fill up. Men in suits carried their jackets under their arms or over one shoulder; women wore their hair up in messy buns or loose ponytails, held high off their necks. The sun screamed over the city that day, hovering in the sky like a monster with lungs that never seemed to deflate, waves of heat hissing off the pavement. The bell on the front door of the diner rung and Shaun Ross entered, black, circular sunglasses perched on his nose, his head of tight, white curls catching light through the window. His cream-colored hand removed his glasses. His eyes beamed, a flickering mixture of storm-cloud grey and fish-pond blue. As he strutted down the walkway toward my table, a man released the turkey sandwich from his mouth to take a look. A woman, bent over a Diet Coke, straw wedged between her lips, craned her neck as Ross passed.

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He sat down next to me, smiled, and said: “Are you ready?” Arguably one of the most unique male models in the fashion industry, Shaun Ross has made a name for himself because of his albinism (he’s biologically African American), a recessive gene seen in less than two percent of the U.S. population, throwing flare into the traditionally mundane onslaught of chiseled frames and lanky limbs that grace runways and advertisement campaigns. He has walked for the likes of Walter van Buren and Bernard Willhelm; has been featured in GQ, Vogue and Elle; has starred in music videos for Beyonce, Katy Perry and the yet-to-be-released Lana Del Rey short film Tropico; and has built a relationship with Tyra Banks, being a subject on her talk show and a guest on the new season of America’s Next Top Model. “When I first saw Shaun I immediately did a double take,” confided Banks, creator of America’s Next Top Model, in an exclu-


sive interview. “I’ve been around models my entire life so when someone stops me in my tracks, you know they’re fierce,” she continued. “What makes Shaun such a great talent is not only his stunning beauty or his ability to take some of the best photos I’ve ever seen a model take, but his flawsome-ness. Shaun has an extremely unique look that some might consider flawed, but in reality, it makes him a truly awesome fashion and role model.” Underneath his head-turning exterior, Ross possesses an even more unique quality of someone with a permanent physical disorder: prideful advocacy. On a plane ride to Miami earlier this year, Ross manifested his desire to inspire people who were physically different, utilizing social media to raise awareness. “A lot of people would send me pictures of their kids with albinism and things like that,” explained Ross. “And I wanted to make up my own hashtag to promote it and get people talking. And then I thought of it: #inmyskiniwin.” The campaign, according to Ross, is still in its infant stages, but is already shedding light on physical equality on a large scale. It allows people who are labeled physically different to see that there are many others out there just like them who are making strides in everyday life. This is especially viable for children, where conditions like albinism make adolescents even more vulnerable to bullying and the degradation of self-esteem, something Ross himself fought while growing up as the only “white” kid at school in the Bronx. “He went through a lot, with people calling him names,” said his mother, Geraldine. “I’ve always taught him not be affected by that. He was special, always had a lot of love, and I told him to believe in himself—to always go after his dreams, and I think that always stuck with him. Shaun always had this special swagger since he was small.” With constant support from his mother, Ross overcame the traditional hardships of being different while growing up. “I knew that I had a personality that was bigger than their imagination,” he explained. “And when that personality was not just shown but then accepted, it allowed me to then control situations.” From there, as the onset of adolescence prompted the concept of a career and a plan for adulthood, Ross solidified his passion in the arts. He eventually got noticed on the Internet by a sea of people who believed in him, including, in 2010, Ty Hunter, Beyonce’s personal stylist. “The fact that he was albino, and that he was so comfortable—I thought it was beautiful, the way he carried himself,” explained Hunter in a phone interview. “Once

we met, he instantly became my son.” Hunter’s professional and personal mentorship elevated Ross’s tinkerings in modeling and acting into a more legitimate career, eventually giving Ross the opportunity to make an appearance in Beyonce’s “Party” video in 2011. “People are definitely seeing who he really is and that he is so talented,” added Hunter. “He is so passionate. He never has a day where he doesn’t strive for his goals—reaching for the next thing.” Using his past as a blueprint for his advocacy, Ross plans on educating children that it is okay to be different, and that they should embrace their imperfections, all under the self-elevating moniker #inmyskiniwin. “I feel like if a lot of kids knew how to, and were comfortable with, expressing themselves at a young age we wouldn’t run into a lot of the problems that we do. There would be less fighting and bullying.” Transitioning this sentiment from merely a digitized, social-media-based effort that only creates awareness, showcasing the fact that there are plenty of people out there who are considered different, Ross plans to integrate his vision on the ground level, where change is the most crucial. “I want it to be something along the lines of the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club—something that is in school and that can be practiced with kids,” he explained. “I want it to be something that is applied. I would like to go to schools and talk to the staff and make it an after-school program—something fun for kids that may need it.” His mother, who said she wasn’t surprised in the least when he started modeling, seemed to be more excited about this section of his career, an initiative that directly helps people, than anything else that put him on a cover of a magazine or in a music video. “I think that his initiative will open a lot of ears to accept diversity,” she explained. “ It’s fantastic—empowering and inspirational. He has lifted a lot of people’s self esteem and has taught people to accept themselves.” For Ross, like with any of his goals and ambitions, it’s all about taking a deep breath. “I’m very patient about #inmyskiniwin,” Ross admitted, taking a page from Hunter’s book, who always taught him that being humble and calm is the key to success. “I know people will start reaching out,” he added, rubbing his hands together in front of his face, staring off out a nearby window. “A lot people have said they love #inmyskiniwin. It’s going to happen. I know it.”

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Lord Willing

In his much-anticipated debut album, Trap Lord, rapper A$AP Ferg takes fans back to the early days WORDS KELSEY PAINE PHOTOGRAPHS ANTHONY BLUE JR.

L

ounging on a leather sofa nestled in the Bronx’s Polo Grounds Studios, A$AP Ferg’s beguiling grill-filled grin shone as he talked about his debut studio album Trap Lord, set to drop just a few days hence. Ferg exuded all the nonchalant cockiness and youthful exuberance of the game’s next up-and-coming rapper. But while he certainly is on the precipice of stardom, there is so much more than swagger and an ear for club bangers to this 24-year-old. Darold Ferguson Jr. isn’t just a rapper with a few hits, he’s the definition of an artist—a musician who strives to create something new, fresh and provocative. “I knew I wanted to create a mood—sonically I want-

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ed it to sound like movie scores,” he said of the follow up to his breakout mixtape Lords Never Worry. “That was my vision. I wanted to take the old school artists, the iconic people of our time that we looked up to, and bring them into my world.” Ferg’s world is a bit of an enigma. He may rap about smoking weed and getting turnt up, but he’s much more interested in people—in memories, evoking human emotion and doing his part to change the state of hip-hop. No mention of cars or money ever once comes up as he acknowledges his place as A$AP Mob’s next chart-topping emcee following A$AP Rocky. “What about stuff that’s sonically gonna take you somewhere


else? Evoke emotion. That’s what I wanted to do. Talk about real subjects,” he said of Trap Lord. Surprisingly, there was a time Ferg didn’t even listen to hip-hop, unless it was of the ‘90s variety: “Ready to Die, Black Moon, Smif-n-Wessun, Onyx,” a crossover experimental hiphop style he adapts with Trap Lord’s instrumental beats and kaleidoscopic flow. Most notably on the hit “Shabba,” which pays tribute to the Jamaican dancehall king Shabba Ranks. “I was listening to Tears for Fears, Phil Collins, Seal. Different kinds of music in search of a new sound,” Ferg said with a smile. “I want to start listening to more country music. I’ve heard of Garth Brooks and stuff, but I wanna know why he’s so famous and why people love his music so much. I’m curious about it.” For Ferg, it’s not the hip-hop lifestyle that propelled him to make music. “I was always drawn to rhythm. At the time I didn’t know I was rhyming, I was just doing poetry,” he explained. “After I learned how to make music, it engulfed me, I started going on a voyage through it. I wanted to create new sounds, manipulate sounds, bend sounds, take it to a new level. There’s so much you can do with music; there are no rules to it.” While Ferg collaborates with his fellow Harlem-ite A$AP Rocky on multiple tracks off Trap Lord, each song sounds decidedly like Ferg—a mixture of bombastic, lyrical hip-hop, unique cross genre beats and wordplay that is equal parts fun and meaningful. He tapped up and coming producers like Crystal Caine and Frankie P through a new medium—Tumblr—to create “fresh” sounds. “I wanted to get people I could relate to,” he said. It’s telling that Ferg’s breakout hit “Work” was never his favorite track, and although it sounds the most similar to the “conventional” hip-hop of today’s charts, there are hints of something more simmering beneath the surface. On the remix for example, French Montana, ScHoolboy Q and Trinidad Jame$ all lend verses to bang in the club, while Ferg and Rocky rap about beating the competition and the death of their fathers si-

multaneously—a juxtaposition Ferg is all too happy to represent. While Ferg shouts out his dad on the original version of “Work”: “See my daddy in heaven, he be the realist G,” Rocky surprised Ferg with his sensitive sense of camaraderie in the face of loss. “See my daddy in heaven, right next to Ferg’s,” he spat. According to Ferg, “He slipped that in there. I didn’t even know he was gonna do that. But he made it real special. I heard the verse and that shit was so amazing. It made me go back in the booth and change my verse.” While Ferg is excited by the state of hip-hop and intent upon crafting unique work, he pays homage to the past, admitting that, “history repeats itself.” “It’s definitely evolving, but it’s not really different,” he said of hip-hop. “The sound changes, but the feeling reminds you of something.” Accordingly, Ferg learns from his predecessors, even joining forces with them—take the ethereal Bone ThugsN-Harmony collaboration “Lord” on Trap Lord. But in a testament to his artistry, Ferg doesn’t merely feature the iconic group for the name; he utilizes their talent in a new way. “I wanted to bring the Bone Thugs to that cinematic world, as if they were in a movie, the villains of the movie.” Like most rappers of today, aesthetic is just as important to Ferg. His Trap Lord merchandise line is for the fans, and inspired by A$AP Mob’s carefully honed style. Whether it’s silk, snapbacks or slim jeans, “we stick out like a sore thumb because our style is different,” Ferg said proudly. “If we were wearing average things, what everybody else is wearing, big chains and diamonds everywhere, trying to glisten, we’d just fit into the average rapper. But we’re not the average rapper, we’re artists at the end of the day.” A$AP Ferg is an artist of this generation, ambitiously striving towards the unknown, fearlessly staking new territory, all the while learning from and appreciating the past. As a fierce teammate and champion of other emcees, Ferg is still hungry for more from the game and from himself. The movement starts here.

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High res are here. Opener needed


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Profile for Relapse Magazine

September 2013 - The Sartorial Issue  

This issue is all that encompasses the theory of expression through clothing, touching specifically on the New York City fashion scene.

September 2013 - The Sartorial Issue  

This issue is all that encompasses the theory of expression through clothing, touching specifically on the New York City fashion scene.