Dress CodeThe Work of Plastic Martyr
What do you do as a fashion designer when you're faced with having to render a design as neither male nor female?
Plastic Martyr knows.
As fashion moves toward a gender-free, unisex direction, Los Angeles based model Plastic Martyr surges forth in print and on the runway like a force of nature that is awesome to behold. He has worked with some of the world's top designers and photographers, and seems coiled with resolve, ambition, and determination to change the fashion industry's notion of beauty one photo at a time.
We sat down with Plastic Martyr to discuss those aspects of ourselves that are sometimes the hardest to recognize: the essential self vs. the imagined self, why we should embrace the traits that make us unique and, in turn, uniquely beautiful.
How would you describe your style?
Futuristic Goth. I was a crazy goth kid ever since age ten, and you know what they say; once a goth, always a goth. I have always been attracted to dark and depressive designs, but that attraction changes with each project. Lately, I've been drawn to pieces by Thierry Mugler and the late McQueen, though some of my favorite pieces were found in Los Angeles vintage shops. Occasionally I will mutilate pieces then stitch them back together with a futuristic goth flare.
What is futuristic Goth?
Futuristic Goth is dark and obsessed with everything macabre, like typical "gothic" style, but with a high fashion edge. High shoulder pads, exaggerated angles, and dramatic, bizarre details. Similar to something a space alien would wear.
Supermodels come from outer space.
[Laughs] Yes, maybe.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a model?
Probably as early as age 2. There's a photo of me at that age wearing my mom's Betsey Johnson Dress. Then, when I was 14, I booked my first modeling gig. The photo shoot was in the middle of the desert just outside the city of San Diego. I had bright blue hair, a red umbrella, and wore a $10 dress.
Were your parents supportive? San Diego is not really known for being a beacon of progressive social politics.
Well, my father is a born-again fanatic. It doesn't bother me because I surround myself with the people I know love me for me. My mom was very supportive and still is to this day.
What advice do you have for aspiring models?
Don't give up. There is so much rejection and nay-say in the industry. And remember to always be yourself. No one wants to sign a carbon copy. The more original and unique you are, the better. The same goes to those who want to break through gender boundaries. Accept negative critique, but don't let it alter your persona.
Do you identify as transgender?
No, I identify as a gay man. I was born very feminine and naturally have more female characteristics than male characteristics. I don't let gender politics and stereotypes define who I am as a person. Gender and fashion should have no boundaries, and I strongly stick to that ideal. I'm me 100% of the time. I know who I am, and I don't need approval from others. My only need is to feel happy in my own world. I've achieved happiness by creating a controversial image.
The idea that happiness is achieved only when we become who we think we should be is beautifully stated by the character Agrado in Pedro Almadovar's film All About My Mother. "It cost me a lot to be authentic, but we must not be cheap in regards to the way we look. Because one is more authentic the more one looks like what she has dreamed for herself."
That's very true. Before I created Plastic Martyr, I saw my true self, my imagined self, only in my dreams. At night, I would sleep and only then I would look a certain way. Like Agrado, I was never truly happy until I became the very thing that I dreamed.
To learn more about Plastic Martyr, click here.