STAY UGLY –a story about hair by Jesus Rodriguez


His first official collection reflects upon social trends that have recently become more relevant in hair; which is way more than a style statement; where hair takes on a political dimension. In a world, where racism has absolutely no place and where diversity is highly celebrated, the concept of traditional beauty can no longer work as it was. I am no longer only interested with the most up coming weird avant-garde haircuts or colours, but I am primarily fascinated with the overall attitude! This collection is an ode to individualism, self determination, and wanting to be different. 

It culminates the marvelous and provocative statement:


Be who you are, remain fearless, and true to yourself


Cyte: Before we talk about your new collection, I would like to

know just a little bit more about you. How did you even

become a hairdresser? What motivated you, to take up this


Jesus: In 1989 I was just 17 years old. I had a classmate from

Cameroon who always wore elaborate braided hairstyles. I

have always been fascinated by those braided patterns on

her head. I secretly woven my sister’s dolls, to figure out and

teach myself, those skills. At some point, she offered me to

braid her friend’s hair after school. The rest is history.


Cyte: You experienced Frankfurt as a teenager in the 1980s.

How was that back then? And how did that shape you and

your work?


Jesus: In the 80s, there was a squatted house with punks; not

too far from my home. They all had coloured hair and rats as

pets. I thought that was great and it fascinated me. Back

then, the poppers were still being hunted by the punks.

There are ideals of radical individualism of the 80s has

always fascinated and intrigued me. Today I benefit from the

DYI ideology (even when doing hair). I love the unmade,

unfinished and amateurish; thus firmly believing that you can

learn a lot as a self-taught person.


Cyte: And how far do you feel your Spanish roots have

influenced you?


Jesus: In the way I approach things. I love improvisation,

spontaneous, and the passion that my Spanish culture

breathes. I consider myself lucky and also it a gift,

to have such a rich historical roots in Spain. Spaniards also

have an urge to love the trashy and gaud. That’s exactly

what I love. By the way; my favourite film director is Pedro



Cyte: You have been commuting between Frankfurt and Berlin

for some time. To what extent has that changed or

influenced you in relation to your work?


Jesus: I was born and raised in Frankfurt. This is my home, even

if I don’t feel at home there artistically. Berlin is art. The

queer art and music scene lives here. It’s always refreshing to

commute between the clean banking metropolis of Frankfurt

and colourful and vibrant Berlin. I love contrasts and that is

reflects in my work.


Cyte: Music seems to be an important topic for you. Who and which genres have influenced or inspired



Jesus: Music has always played a central role for me. Sounds

take me on a journey through the most varied of decades. In

the 80s I was influenced by the rap and hip-hop of that time.

With groups like Africa Bambaataa or Grandmaster Flash.

Chicago House was added in the early 90s, along with the

voguing and ballroom scene that went along with it. I

discovered New Wave and Postpunk through my husband in

the early 2000s. Groups like German-American Friendship,

Suicide and Kraftwerk still inspire me to this day. My main

sources of inspiration are subcultures, youth movements and

their scene’s; paired with the respective ideology of beauty.

Politically and socially; they always show us where the next journey is heading to.


Cyte: You work full-time for the hair industry and still create

looks for magazines and fashion shows. How important is

free work to you?


Jesus: For me editorials and free work are a catalyst to get new

creative impulses. There, I experiment with new looks and

let my creativity run freely. Regardless of whether they are

too avant-garde or too reduced. I have the luxury of being

able to live out my passion for hair both privately and

professionally at any given time.


Cyte: “STAY UGLY” is a provocative name for a collection. How

did that happen?


Jesus: By chance! I heard a song by the group named Crimes,

while at the gym, working

out and I was struck by the title “Stay Ugly” and it totally

thrilled me. It has so much power. The overdriven female

vocals, the brutal electronics, paired with the lyrics, just

grabbed my imagination. There’s something very rebellious

about that approach.

Cyte: What does „ugliness“ mean to you? Or do you even think

in these categories – beautiful / ugly?


Jesus: In times of instagram and co., external perfection plays a

huge major role as to what our perception of beauty is. Think

of the thousand filters from „perfect“ eyes, skin or face. I’m

actually just bored with it all because it’s always the same

predictable taste or ideology. I love imperfection and

asymmetry. Beauty is always relative. What others find

beautiful can be ugly for me or vice versa. That I find to be a good



Cyte: What was your inspiration for the hairstyles of “STAY



Jesus: By chance, I came across a picture from the early 1920s

showing three female art students from Dadaism school of

art. The facial expressions were somber, almost „nofuture“-

esque. They wore matching men’s clothes that

underlined their genderless and progressive attitudes. Their

hair looked raw or unfinished and it looked homemade. I

love that. Unmade textures and cuts that are styled by a

stroke of chance. It is almost unbelievable or unthinkable

that this look came our at the same time when the

glamorous Charleston look was so en vogue. They were just

the opposite of the mainstream.

Stay Ugly.


Cyte: It is noticeable that some of the looks are rather simple,

whereas one very often finds opulent and artistic looks in the

collections of colleagues. Why are your works like that?


Jesus: I love reduction and minimalism. It is important to throw

away unnecessary distracting things overboard. Every face

has its own beauty and each tells its own story. Telling these

stories are more important to me than conjuring up just

simple expensive hairstyles.


Cyte: What are your current favourite products or what do you

need to achieve the „STAY UGLY“ look?


Jesus: I am definitely a fan of Oribe’s styling products. They allow me to conjure up the right structure

and the desired effect on set. I am currently a fan of semimatted

textures. The hair never looks overloaded. You get

the coolest „second day look“. A must-have for all session



Cyte: „SUBCULTURE“ vs. „MAINSTREAM“. You move between

these two extremes. How do you manage the balance there?


Jesus: Both contrasting worlds flow in my work because I love

contrasts. The avant-garde, or the underground, has always

been the leading pioneer of fashion and art movements.

The mainstream takes a little longer to react and therefore

always has a delayed reaction when a trend manifests itself

there. I love the German term „Zeitgeist“ because it

describes to us what is going on today.


Cyte: What would you advise someone who wants to take up

the hairdressing profession now?


Jesus: It’s a great job. Do something with it and it will never feel

like work.


Cyte: Best advice you ever got?

Jesus: Do what makes you happy!




Photograph+DOP: Stephan Ziehen

Make-Up: Tobias Binderberger@Bigoudi

Modelle: Leonie + June@Le Management

               Ana Saraiva

Edit: Aki Kurasaki