Lawson Rhys Taylor (who is signed with Next Los Angeles and Why Not Models) was discovered about a year and a half ago while working at Urban Outfitters on Oxford Street in London. He has since gone on to walk for John Galliano and Sibling, grace the pages of Dazed & Confused, NakedButSafe, Inked, Hysteria, and Relapse magazines, front campaigns for Topman, Fear of God, Adidas and John Varvatos, and he is slated to appear in Lana Del Rey's upcoming short film, Tropico. We caught up with the in-demand model and designer in-the-making, who talked about living in the forest, his first foray into fashion design, how he and his fellow tattooed models are changing the standard of beauty, and more ...
The Fashion Law – How old are you and what's your nationality?
Lawson Rhys Taylor – I'm 22 and from Coventry, England.
The Fashion Law – You're based between New York and Los Angeles now, right?
Lawson Rhys Taylor –I actually live in a cabin in the forests of Northern California at the moment. I spend a week out of each month in NYC to deal with my business ventures but most of my time is here in the woods. Spending time being creative and organizing events from my little slice of heaven.
The Fashion Law – So often models are characterized as not being especially smart. I have found that this is often not the case. So many guys speak several languages, are going to school/studying in addition to modeling and like you, are building their own brands on the side.
Lawson Rhys Taylor –Well, being a model on camera doesn't take much more than a pretty face and a bit of personality. The things models do off camera are a lot more taxing. I have a lot of respect for people who can walk into 15 castings every day and be rejected by 80% of people, usually in a pretty shitty manner, not because of the talents you have acquired, but the face you grew. Haha
I think modeling is a perfect opportunity to be creative and use your image to your advantage, business wise rather than just to be in magazines and at fashion parties. Yeah that's all well and good but fashion gives models a short time frame to be the centre of attention. Most don't see that the real job starts when the photo shoot ends.
The Fashion Law – What has been a highlight of modeling for you?
Lawson Rhys Taylor – I would say either going to NYC back in November to do a denim campaign job for a China client or meeting Vivienne Westwood at her home in Milan. She is one of the most amazing and inspirational people I have ever met and I can't wait to work with her properly!
The Fashion Law – You designed a sneaker in collaboration with Modern Vice, which is set to be released for sale soon. How did designing come about for you?
Lawson Rhys Taylor –This was something I've wanted to do since I was young - put my name on a pair of sneakers, that is. I like the natural flow of how this collaboration came around. Myself and another model were shooting for Relapse Magazine. During the time, we were gifted a really nice pair of boots from a company I wasn't at the time familiar with. When I got back to my house that evening I sent the owners Jordan and Jensen Adoni a message to say thank you. They promptly invited me to visit the factory where the sneakers were made in NYC. From the moment we all sat down, we had a vibe and we slowly but surely created the Worst x Modern Vice shoe. Nine months and 100's of man hours later, I couldn't be happier with the result. We are currently finalizing a few things before manufacturing begins but they will be available by early 2014. I'm very proud.
The Fashion Law – It seems like you really want to develop a brand of your endeavors. Business today is so much about branding. How would you describe yours?
Lawson Rhys Taylor – The Wørst is a story of a fucked up kid creating a platform to a secret company more than a brand. If I were to try and label something to a certain genre it gets stuck in peoples minds in a way that doesn't fit the mold I'm trying to make. I don't see myself consistently creating anything at the moment, such as shoes, t-shirts, paintings, etc. I haven't been consistent with anything in my life. So, I shouldn't have my idea restricted by a name or it's branding.With the help of my incredibly talented friend and photographer, J Williams, we create imagery and from there are free to use it however we like, for good or for bad. We try to only talk about and display what is real, whether we created it or society did, because lord knows there is enough real shit that we see and don't talk about. The things we create are shock value for the western society but just everyday life for the rest. We are preparing to do a global presentation of the video we created. That's something to look out for, but its not for the faint-hearted.
The Fashion Law – You've said that you thought being scouted as a model was a bit of a joke at first. Were you or are you still surprised to book so many jobs considering that you have so many tattoos? I think this is kind of interesting because while we see a lot of guys with tattoos on the runway now, this was not the case 5 years ago and certainly not 10 years ago.
Lawson Rhys Taylor – I defiantly laughed at the idea of being a model represented all around the world this time 18 months ago, I was always stuck in a job that made me ignorant because I'd put in so much time for so little money just to feed it back to the system (or black market, haha). I remember waking up with an emptiness because of this 15-18 hours I'd have to slave away in different places to make ends meet. This was the most bizarre escape I could have never seen coming but I'm glad I stuck at it. I think with my tattooed friends who are alongside me being the misfits of the fashion industry we are creating a better perception of tattooed people in everyday life rather than just on the runway, which is more important in the real world.
The Fashion Law – What do you make of the rise of the unconventional model? Do you see yourself and the other token "tattooed models" in fashion (in high fashion, at least) like Bradley [Soileau], Dawid [Auguscik], Jimmy [Quaintance], Daniel [Bamdad], Ricki [Hall], etc. etc. as pioneers of a new standard of beauty?
Lawson Rhys Taylor – I think the high fashion industry is lucky to have such great examples of established tattooed people working amongst them. I know each one if those kids personally and I can say for each one of them, they are a brother and they are a pleasure to be around. I see newer kids popping up with all these brand new throat and hand tattoos, bad boy attitudes and a thirst for fame.. and I think that in the long run these kids might have a different view on their permanent art when fashion changes.
I think we have defiantly made our own lane of what people can say is beautiful now, the generation we follow is dated, in terms of the ideas and the formalities. The youth is starting to wake up to their own abilities instead of what they are taught, which I think is the most important thing, not just for tattoos but for every aspect of being young, creative and independent.
The Fashion Law – What makes you happy?
Lawson Rhys Taylor – The Wørst, A.T.W.A, Weed, Freedom and love forever.