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
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
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.
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
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
Edit: Aki Kurasaki