why rick owens’ male muse went rogue
rick owens fall/winter 15
Rick Owens is a master provocateur. He wants to challenge us and as a result, often manages to break through standard show coverage into mainstream news. From crafting spectacles from Estonian Eurovision losers, steppers and glory holes, stunts are almost expected and reporters wait, willing and wishing for something to happen. However, yesterday's stunt didn't feel right. As Jera unfurled his message, the mood instantly changed. The master provocateur had himself been provoked by one of his own.
"TRAILER TRASH, CRACKHEAD GEEKS X 40 PLEASE." This succinct yet sprawling assortment of adjectives was one of the first caps locked casting briefs Angus Munro (i-D and AM Casting Director) received from Rick Owens. He might be a shape shifting, otherworldly daydream that lurks in the darkest corners of imaginations but the Rick Owens man has always been clear in Rick's all-seeing mind's eye and that man has been Jera. Whilst speaking to i-D last year, Rick described the first time he saw Jera: "He was just super goofy, noodle looking, in a green leather women's raincoat. He kind of reminded me of an extra from Pink Flamingos or some weird scene in Baltimore but when I shot him, he had this tremendous allure, a fragile Bowie-thing going on. He was very Space Oddity." The peculiar gaze of this Space Oddity has been omnipresent in the output of the house ever since. He has looked on from every collection, every look book and ultimately helped Rick redefine beauty. Until now. Sadly, those days are over because of one act.
Rick Owens is so much more than a house, it's a tribe, a family, a world and with AM Casting by their side, Rick and Michèle Lamy cultivate the ultimate creative community. Yesterday, one unpredictable yet truly loved member disappointed the elders. "There's this luminous come-hither thing from the pictures I shot of him ten years ago and now there's this damaged feeling, a gravitas to his expression, it's kind of fantastic," Rick revealed last year. The moment Jera unfurled his scribbled "Please Kill Angela Merkel. Not" message, the damage that has long inspired his master, ultimately hurt Rick Owens. With feelings still raw and shortly after we hear the news that Jera's been dropped by Tomorrow Is Another Day, we caught up with Angus to try and make sense of the scene in Paris.
Jera is such a part of the Rick Owens family, did he just get carried away with the theme of Cyclops? Were you surprised by his protest? Why do you think he did it?
I think that Jera is essentially a lovely guy but he certainly has some demons. I think that this was a manifestation of those demons.
It's kind of a catch-22 as his appeal to Rick as a muse was certainly entwined in these demons/issues, coupled with his physical presence. He embodied, to a degree, Rick's male aesthetic for a decade… and as his casting director, I know how hard it is to find anyone who is that perfect for the Rick Owens world.
I'd love to say that I thought he had timed his message to mirror a message in the collection… but I think it was just purely a cheap stunt… something that belittles to no small degree the trust and loyalty that Rick has showed to Jera.
Were you surprised by his actions?
Honestly, not really. His behavior has been erratic before and I suppose that he sees our show as his stage… but to betray a loyalty such as Rick's to him is not just stupid, it's embarrassing.
Did Jera hint about what he was planning, did he say anything about the stunt?
No, but he has asked us (myself, Michèle and Rick) whether we choose one or three questions… one of them being his slogan… another being 'kill the last unicorn.' I don't think Rick or Michèle answered. I said, 'kill the last unicorn' as I think they are awful (and dangerous honestly).
Could you describe the instant reaction backstage and the mood now…
Backstage it was confusion more than anything. We really are a family and when a person who you consider one of your own does something like that it is very unsettling. Rick is a calm, passive, thoughtful and kind man… sure he was furious (as he should be.) Fashion has nothing to do with politics, but the overriding mood was far more one of abject disappointment.
Text Steve Salter
Backstage photography Ash Kingston
Catwalk photography Mitchell Sams