STEVE MILLER, OPINIONS EDITOR:
Call him a freak, call him an abomination but there’s no denying the intrigue of Rick Genest, also known as “Zombie Boy.” The 26-year-old Montreal based model, has been turning heads and garnering attention from some of the fashion industry’s most notable heavy hitters for his “Dawn of the Dead” demeanor.
After being discovered on Facebook by internationally
known fashion director Nicola Formichetti, Genest quickly ascended to the top of the fashion industry’s intrigue list. So far Genest has appeared in Vogue Hommes, had a runway debut at the Thierry Mugler show at Paris Fashion week, and appeared in Lady GaGa’s “Born This Way” video, defying beauty conventions with his extreme physical
expression through body modification.
But under his skeletal skin, Genest is described as a soft-spoken young man with a love of all things strange.
“As I got older I fell in love with zombies and wanted to become one…the closest thing I could get to becoming a zombie was to get tattooed like one,” said Genest in an interview with Bizarre Magazine. “I see my tattoos as celebrating the art of obscenity and the macabre. I thought long and hard about what I really wanted, what my passion was. And I decided I wanted to be a f***ing zombie.”
Though he said he knew it would be harder to find a job when he began his transformation by tattooing his hands, Genest said his tattoos reveal how he feels on the inside and he’s so used to them now he doesn’t even notice them anymore. Genest’s
rise to fame, to me, is a representation of the fashion industry’s changing views on the concept of permanent body modification and its ever-growing accepted ascent into society. Everywhere you look it’s hard not to notice or know someone with a tattoo.
A recent 2010 Pew research center found 36 percent of Americans ages 18-25 have at least one tattoo and in 2009 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration
found approximately 45 million Americans have tattoos.
In recent years, body modification has slowly been making its way into the world of fashion. From Kate Moss’s small nautical anchor on her ankle or Gisele’s dainty star on her wrist to tattooed male model bad boys Ash Stymest and Josh Beech, more models these days are wearing their art and hearts on their sleeves.
If it was known that one day one of the most talked about male models in the industry at the moment was celebrated for being covered in a full body skeletal tattoo piece, the fashion elite would see this admiration as the end of true fashion—a desecration of beauty and the physical perfection of the past.
Though some still revere the idea of a model being a blank canvas; a pure slate for designers to adorn with their own work, and the criticism and possible lack of job opportunities some models face because of their ink, it’s refreshing to see the self-expression of tattoos making its way into the fashion
mainstream. Rather than being seen as career suicide, Genest has proven a model can succeed in the fashion industry despite archaic notions of homogenized beauty. Designers, magazine editors and stylists today are seeing the beauty and individuality
tattoos offer by incorporating them into their own fashion conceptions as an enhancement of their work and their passion for the pursuit of inspiration and self-expression.
Southern Style: Tattoos no longer a fashion industry taboo
STEVE MILLER, OPINIONS EDITOR: