Zombie Boy

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Zombie Boy - Rico the Zombie
23 Nov

Everything Jay-Z touches turns to platinum gold. Co-founding hench streetwear label Rocawear a decade ago, netting 700 million per calendar year, he now invites Rico the Zombie to step up and style out the label’s SS13 threads.

Music influences fashion intrinsically and vice versa. Creating clothes with attitude, Rock-a-Fella Records inspired the birth of iconic label Rocawear. Keeping music fundamental to the brand’s core Rocawear continuously looks to lyrics and music-inspired lifestyles to conceive of campaigns and collection concepts. Devised by Damon Dash and Jay-Z, developed as a lifestyle brand for hip hop lovers and street style enthusiasts, Rocawear caters to both men and women. Staying ahead of the game by keeping the brand’s distinct DNA undiluted and entirely trend based, the team behind the label are the best at what they do and Jay-Z is always on play, loud at every shoot. Famous for the statement tees, bombers and snap backs, anyone who chooses to front the RW aesthetic is serious about what they do. i-D went behind the scenes on Rocawear’s SS13 shoot to chat to new face of the label, Rico the Zombie, finding out why he chose to get involved with the brand (see film). Then we took time out with the head of marketing, Iconic Europe for Rocawear, Daisy Laramy-Binks, to find out how she rocks her wears…

Tell us why you have chosen Zombie Boy to be the face of your SS13 collection. What was he like to work with? Following on from our shoot last season with Dynamo Magician, we again wanted to choose a face which carries the message that Rocawear is an innovative, evolving brand. We always try to stay at the cutting edge of streetwear cool and to me no one epitomises innovative street edginess like Rick Genest; he came to mind immediately and I knew that he would be ideal for the campaign. He combines the beauty of a high fashion model with the grittiness which we want to see in a streetwear campaign, elements which fit perfectly with our shoot and its themes of the Double R Club, a gentleman’s club setting and the more down to earth gig/outdoor shots. He looks amazing in both tailored styles and street styles – our collection combines both.

With Jay-Z being a prominent player in the Rocawear brand, what creative input does he have within the curation of each collection? Every Rocawear product is approved by Jay. He has always had a significant input and interest in the brand and nothing is produced without his creative input and approval.

What are the key features of any Rocawear collection? Signature brand detailing include music inspired graphics such as the retro cassette design/ mic graphics on the tees as well as Jay lyrics, a mixture of tailoring and relaxed styling, Brooklyn/Marcy heritage references including references to Americana influences like the Brookyln baseball history, the ’99 established date in graphic form and of course overall attention to detailing on denim, on-trend pop colours and trend-injection packs such as the camo pieces.

What album have you played more than any other on your iTunes? Recently it has definitely been The Blueprint 3 – totally iconic! There are so many great artists out there, we are also very impressed with Rita Ora’s meteoric rise to fame and hope to work with her in some way in the future.

Who has been the most incredible person you have ever had the pleasure of working with? I recently collaborated with Giles Deacon on a project and despite being a top designer and a major lynchpin of the fashion industry I can honestly say he was one of the most down to earth and inspiring people I’ve met. Absolutely charming.

Who is your hero? Terry Richardson would have to be one of them for his amazing view of the world and in modelling, Rick Genest is definitely up there in terms of an individualistic look and character.


Text: Milly McMahon

Film: Josef Valentino

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{japopup type="image" content="images/stories/rico-3.jpg" title="Rick Genest" } Rick Genest

01 Nov

The ultimate music fashion brand, Rocawear, announces the endorsement that will embody its new-found style direction, ech oing its roots in streetwear with an alternative edge. Model and artist Rick Genest, aka Zombie Boy, fronts the new Rocawear campaign for Spring Summer ’13 showcasing the new collection. Zombie Boy perfectly encapsulates the brand’s directional ethos and underground appeal and brings a fresh new edge to this season’s range.

The new collection features an array of influences that are current and on-trend with a nod towards Rocawear’s strong music heritage, fusing smart casual with a street sport element that celebrates its New York roots. Graphic tees, vest tops, hoodies and varsity style jackets all hint to a “Ballpark Club” theme referencing the famous and successful independent baseball club, The Bushwick Club of Brooklyn. Evoking the culture of its origins, Rocawear steps into Spring Summer ’13 mindful of its roots and streetwear merit.

The camouflage elements within the concrete jungle-themed range run to jackets, snapbacks, graphic tees, shorts and trousers with subtle branding and prints which bolster the overall on-trend styling.

Canadian artist and international fashion model Rick Genest, known for his award-winning, controversial tattooed body art, introduces an exceptional new style avenue for Rocawear and cements a continued new direction for the brand. Conveying a style credibility and authority thanks to being featured across a plethora of established fashion magazines and music videos around the globe, Rocawear’s new face truly presents a path that steps ahead and beyond the urban look.

Key pieces from the range include the two-tone coloured vests and tees that are brightly pop coloured, emphasising spring colour pallets. The Blazer style jacket with a camouflage print and elbow patch features unites smart casual. A stand out staple for Spring Summer is the ‘R music tape’ graphic tee, paying homage to Rocawear’s music roots and legacy. Hooded duffle style jackets complete the highlights line up. These effortless, simple yet street-relevant pieces encapsulate Rocawear’s new found style presence.

Rick Genest, aka Zombie Boy, comments, “I am pleased to become involved in the re-launch of the ultimate iconic music fashion brand, Rocawear, and its new stylistic direction in Europe.”

30 Oct

Photograph by: Colin R. Singer

People wonders what this Quebec-born lad hides behinds his mummy of tattoos covering 80% of his body; and what is in his mind to put on this immortal skin. But the body in ink, to Rick Genest the Zombie Boy, just makes sense.

Diagnosed with a life-threatening benign brain tumor, Rick Genest at the age of 15 underwent a surgery that many had not survived in the past. Between death, blindness or living vegetable, the Almighty gave him none of the above; instead he gave him life. Defying the odds, he literally jumped off of the Grim Reapers deck of cards and began a new life. The squeegee kid on the streets on Montreal had his first tattoo and became obsessed with body modification. By age 21, he was renamed Rico The Zombie Boy.
Together with now retired tattoo artist Frank Lewis, the masochistic prince tortures himself with painful tattoos and obsesses over death is in a constant in battle with his inner demons. His shocking exterior is an expression of his inner struggle between good versus evil, life and death, anarchy against authority.

Let’s discuss your history. How did you get introduced into doing such iconic fashion moments such as the Thierry Mugler campaign, which led to the Lady Gaga video? After many years of working on my tattoo, it started to take more shape. It wasn’t uncommon for people to take pictures of me. I was doing side gigs and modelling for photographers. I was someone who would standout in shoots. My first fashion magazine was through a guy I met in the street; named Ludo with Tuxedo Agency. He had me to take some flicks and published it in a magazine called Dressed To Kill. It ended up being a big enough magazine to get the attention of Nicola Formichetti, from there on out he kept inviting me to work along with him and his projects which ultimately got me to the Lady Gaga video.

You story continues to grow. How has this attention parlayed into an acting career? You just completed a movie with Keanu Reeves? We were on film location in Budapest. It was my first role with a line. I have done movies with what is called figuration before. But this was my first big production with a speaking role and it is scheduled to come out in November.

What was your role in the movie? I understand there is an action scene? Well, I haven’t seen the final cut, so let’s hope it makes it. It’s a really large budget film by Universal Studios. It’s going to be a 3D movie. The set was huge. I was really excited because I love Pirates. It’s a Pirate and Samurai movie, which is something I was very happy to be part of.

You recently were the focus of a body modification documentary. Can you share with us your role in this film and what does body modification mean to you?

Body modification means freedom, controlling your image to me. Many people in your life try to push you in a certain direction. It may be teachers, parents or authority figures that push you in places that may not work for you and you have to be able to break away from that and be yourself.

On the world platform, we became aware of you with the Lady Gaga video, Born This Way. How was it working with the most influential pop artist of our time? She’s rock and roll. I had the opportunity to work wither on two different sets. She is just a blast, full of energy, very open arms to everyone on the set.

In the video, Lady Gaga tapped into your essence by emulating your look with creating a make-up look on herself, in which she became a ‘Zombie’ as well. How did you feel about Gaga pulling parts of your essence into her ‘Little Monster World’? When we got there, it was a big surprise at first. We had a memo and originally the draft we had at first was supposed to be a Unicorn character in the clip and I was supposed to be a Punk Rock Unicorn hybrid. But, I thought the final result was great and I was extremely flattered to see her pull me into her whole ‘Monster Project’. Tell me about the underground world, which seems to bring a smile to your face. It seem that when you are thinking about your friends and this underground world you have embraced, you have a big smile behind the bones. This world is not exposed to the mainstream and you are the conduit that can bring this world to us.

As Lucifer’s Blasphemous, we started as an idea and we did a couple of shows. But since I have been catapulted into the mainstream, I am really travelling and our projects have gotten put on the sideline. But, we are still working on it. We are putting the finishing touches to a new electric chair. My friends are working on it and keeping busy while I am away. Down the line we are planning a bigger show.

I understand you have some other hidden talents, such as writing. And you are working on conceptualizing a possible comic book series? I have always been kind of an astronaut with my ideas. As far as the comic book goes, I am still playing with the whole Lucifer’s Blasphemous concept with The Executioner and The Zombie witthe eternal battle of between the two. It’s like a Roadrunner and Coyote kind of series where one is always trying to kill the other except for he never dies.

Can we discuss your tumor and eventual tattoos? I’ll say, living life everyday at its fullest when you got nothing to lose. This is after you realize how fragile life is, and you start grasping reality every day. Being surrounded by every day is living on the edge; no pun intended. I was living on rooftops and under bridges and every day was one day at a time. That’s when I started my project.

This project brought you into a complete different direction. How did it connect with your moment in which you faced with going through a very serious surgery? How did your brush with death affect your life? Tell us what you want to tell us.

In the face of death… I had a pretty hard life before the surgery as well. When it was going down like that… I couldn’t deal with it. I was saying, “No way!” I was being born in this world just to be put back down. That was hard to deal with, so I fought it. I said no way. Don’t believe in any religious propaganda or anything. But when I was under the knife, I prayed to God. I told God that if I get a chance in my life to come through this I would do my best to change the world. I just fought, I fought, I fought my whole life! And I have a lot to pay back.

We do feel that you take this seriously and that’s why this was not an easy question to ask nor answer and I thank you for sharing that with us because this is a point of curiosity, in which we know that it made a major impact in your life. And sometimes speaking about this can help somebody else that is going through the same process. Let’s go back to more highlights in your career and things that are coming up. Tell me about your Carnival act and the bed of nails?

I am going to bring you back to when I was about 22. By then I had me sleeves done, my chest piece, I had the outline of my ribs. I had some bugs going up my neck and my face just started looking like a skull. I started to look more like a Zombie. The work started to show. I was approached by some different cats to do some shows. I did a couple of side-show gigs. I was in this movie called Carny starring Lou Diamond Phillips. We had a couple of headshots together. I was one of his side-show acts, he bought me on MTV Canada in less than 2 years, I performed with his troop. Prior to his act, I was featured in Bazaar Magazine looking like a Zombie. The summer before last, I was invited by Wayne de Graff, who has one of the two major traveling Carnivals in Canada, to live under a tent with other freaks. The show was based on the Seven Deadly Sins with seven freaks with seven different attributes. I was Sloth because I’m the dead guy. And that was one of the best times of my life, it was the real Carny deal, not just playing it in a movie. So, I got to do that fro two and a half months before that ended. Working with friends in Montreal, people were taking pictures, one thing led to another and it worked up to fashion. Speaking of puzzle, it seems that your puzzle was hidden under a lot of make-up recently and that you have this interesting contract with Dermablend. There is an interesting video on their website with you removing their make-up which looked like your original face. How long did it take to put it on? It took a good three hours to apply and to completely cover me up. And we only had one shot to take it off. For those who had not seen it before, you didn’t know what to expect for the first time viewing it. It made an impact. You should all go and see it at gobeyondthecover.com.

Speaking of role models, who are some of your idols? Who do you listen to? Who’s in your iPod right now? Some of my favorite artist would be. Immortal Technique, Jedi Mind Tricks, Keny Arkana and Las El Dianos… revolution music… power to the people. It looks like you are becoming a Master of Multi-Media as you go further into film, recordings and music videos. It seems like you are capping things off with a fashion line of your own.

Can you tell me about your clothing? So when I first started working in fashion; what really grabbed me was working alongside of Nicola Formichetti, who brought me into the upper scale of the world. He invited me to a couple of events that really touched me. There are real artist that create whether it’s couture, or the clothing itself or make-up artist, video artist and all of these different talents brought me into their world and included me in charity events that collected money for good causes.

So do you feel you have a voice and a platform now? That made me feel like I did.

So, now that you have a voice and a platform, can you tell me about your upcoming fashion line named Zombie Boy Gear? I have always been a DIY kind of guy. I have sewed my own leather… patched pants, studded things, studded gloves, hats, jackets. Studding leather and sewing. It’s just what Punk Rock kids do. When you don’t have much, make your own. You need an imagination. Same with music or graffiti… you got to make your own to get by.

So you feel like you have not lost that imagination and you can channel this into a lucrative fashion line? Yes. It’s the same with tattoos… you got to build from the bottom up, stay strong in what you believe in. There definitely a niche market that has not been filled as of yet.

There are a lot of skull and skeleton t-shirts and things that people wear. Are you planning on becoming the Ed Hardy of skull apparel and things that are frightening? Until a couple of months ago, I didn’t know who Ed Hardy was. I am just going to be myself and do what I do.

What is your driving force? What is your mantra? I always had a hard head and I am very persistent. For better or worse you reap what you sow. The fearless generation… I’m saying… we gotta stick up to our bullies. Especially, in the age of my youth, everyone says with all the protests going on… what has the industrial revolution left for our generation? I’m saying that to not fall for that not having anything to gain. We can take the world back. Being independent is power and we got to find the power in ourselves.

Interview by Ty-Ron Mayes