No Longer a Girl
By Adam Rathe
Photography by Ryan McGinley
Vivienne Westwood got her start styling the Sex Pistols. Marc Jacobs modeled his 1992 Perry Ellis collection on the grunge look that Nirvana popularized. Green Day now brood in ads for John Varvatos suits. Rock and fashion have long been symbiotic, but today they seem more inextricable than ever, with designers like Karl Lagerfeld extending their reach to less mainstream artists such as newcomer Azealia Banks and indie nu-disco group Chromatics, both of whom the designer invited last year to perform at Paris fashion events.
In recent years, no one’s gotten off more on the fashion-musician-muse relationship than Hedi Slimane. The designer and shutterbug has shot everyone from Amy Winehouse and Courtney Love to Pete Doherty and Beck, and now, after taking the reins last March as Saint Laurent’s creative director, he’s found inspiration in a singer whose star has been on the rise for the past three years: Christopher Owens, the reedy crooner formerly of indie-rock darlings Girls. Slimane photographed him for the label’s fall/winter 2012 campaign, marking the San Francisco–based artist’s first turn as a professional model. “I was nervous about it,” Owens says. “I didn’t see myself as someone who could be in a high-fashion ad, but figured Hedi wouldn’t ask me if he didn’t think I could do the job.”
Perhaps it was Owens’s newfound image that convinced Slimane. When Girls first made waves around the time of their 2009 debut full-length, Album, Owens was sporting a somewhat androgynous look.
“I was trying to express myself in a genuine way with how I acted, but I wasn’t thinking much about what I was putting out, image-wise,” he says. Now, having split up the band to pursue a solo career -- he’s just released his first record, Lysandre -- Owens opts for a more dapper, traditionally masculine look. “I kind of want to be like a young Gore Vidal now,” he says. “I’m wearing suits and thinking a lot about the way I look. I’ve been reading Vidal’s novels in the order that he wrote them. He had this masculine quality; he was very strong and incredibly put together. Something about his persona is very appealing to me.”
Listen to "Lysander's Theme/Here We Go" here