I for one am always super impressed by anyone who comes from a small town like I am and makes it big in a city like Manhattan, where millions of people are trying to leave some type of impressionable footprint before they leave this earth. To accomplish a lot of that footprint in your early 20’s just shows the type of drive and talent one must have to succeed. This can be said about one of the hottest rising stars in the art world, Nicholas Contrera.
As a creative artist, I am naturally drawn to other creative spirits that are unapologetically unique, nuanced in their choices, sophisticated, and undeniably fierce. Enter Kazakh model Alexey Kim. The day I met Alexey, he was wearing a slinky black tank top, a baseball cap tilted to the side, and acid washed jeans that were shredded and covered in silver spikes that I later found out he added himself. I knew immediately that we would get along famously and was surer still when I caught wind of his quirky sense of humor. Alexey not only has a truly artistic fashion sensibility but also the attitude and confidence to carry even his most avant-garde couture creations. Needless to say he’s given me some great tips on posing when I’m modeling for photo shoots and has become my fashion hero. Here’s a bit of our conversation about his career and his thoughts on fashion and style.
What excites you about fashion and style?
Personal style is what actually excites me the most. There is a certain art to putting together a great outfit. It is cool to see people getting clothes from here and there, from a luxury label and mixing it with a national retailer, to come up with their own unique way of making all the items work as a whole.
How did you get into modeling?
I was approached by a scout from Elite Models in Miami. I was sitting in Starbucks crying my ass off. I’m still thinking how awkward she must have felt when she approached me, looked into my mascara-smudged face, and asked, “Do you model?” Just kidding. I never wear mascara.
Name your three favorite new things in your wardrobe.
1. Dark purple bomber jacket from H&M. It’s short but warm, and the color is kick ass too.
2. These shiny pleather pants that I got. They are Alice & Olivia…ahem… for…men… Don’t judge! Men’s pants usually don’t fit me!
No judgment here.
I love seeing people’s reactions when I wear them, “Is that made from a garbage bag?” Haha awesome!
3. KTZ gloves. They have huge pop-out red hearts on them, are too big, and aren’t warm, but who cares? I just like them.
What designers are you really into this season?
I’m always into Balmain, Helmut Lang, and Phillip Lim. Balmain has the most impressive looking clothes while not being too over the top. Helmut Lang is luxury necessities. Clean lines, solid colors. Phillip Lim – I really like his use and combination of colors and his fabric choices.
I know that you also alter a lot of your own clothing. Where do you get your inspiration? Have you ever thought about being a designer?
Well I got my very first inspiration to alter something from…don’t you dare laugh at me…Britney. Remember at some point she was all about wearing low-rise jeans, like in that video for “I’m Not a Girl Not Yet a Woman”? You could almost see her babies come out. Well, I wanted low-rise jeans too. Do you think you could find those in Kazakhstan? No! Mom’s jeans all day every day for everyone! So I cut off the upper part of my jeans, took in the sides, and attached the loopholes lower. Now you could almost see my babies come out. I loved it. And yes, I think about designing every day.
You’re also a street style blogger. What new trends would you like to see in men’s fashion?
I would like to see more men wear slick tailored suits with nice ties and watches, a pocket-handkerchief too, perhaps. I also think long brim fedoras look sharp.
What advice do you have for guys that want to look stylish but aren’t as edgy or adventurous as you are with fashion? Where are some easy places for them to find good clothes?
Thing is, national retailers are doing the most right now. You can go to H&M and buy something from their Dark Purple Label. That’s a bit more expensive but also much more stylish and well made. Or Zara. You can come out looking like you just dropped money at an expensive department store. When I buy something I always think, “Can I wear this with most of the stuff that I already own?” It’s always best to recycle and mix an item with things that you already have.
What projects do you have going on now?
Right now I am starting my own digital design agency, and I also just had an important interview with a great fashion house. Fingers crossed.