In a dim basement, stern old men are dressed in beautifully crafted leather boots and black-and-white veils: this dark and erotic scene was recently captured by fetish photographer Rick Castro for fashion designer Rick Owens’ A/W14 moody menswear lookbook.
Despite his underground status, Castro has been a household name in the fashion industry for nearly 28 years—working as a stylist and clothing designer as well as a photographer. “I met Rick Owens way back when he was just starting off. I used one of his hats for an editorial feature for Interview Magazine in 1985. We had a brief relationship. I later hired him to work for Michèle Lamy”—the rest is history. Castro often has a close relationship with his models: “They are friends, lovers, ex-lovers, acquaintances, strangers, and every once in a while a professional model.” Castro therefore sent images of his 15-year-old niece to Owens, in the hopes Owens would use her for the runway. “She’s very pretty… Too pretty. I’m going for the opposite of that,” Owens replied. Castro then suggested his father, “He will be 93 this year.”—Owens, “Perfect.” Though his father was a bit taken aback and confused as to why Castro wanted to photograph him, he agreed to it. “He doesn’t understand my lifestyle, or my art for that matter. His world is so far away from my world. He didn’t understand, but told me he’d do it if it helped me—what more can a son expect?”
Today, Castro owns the only gallery in America dedicated to fetish—Antebellum Gallery in Hollywood—and states that fetish is liberating as well as aesthetically pleasing—mainstream even: “The 21st century is all about fetish. Every artist incorporates fetish, every musician has fetish-inspired undertones. Every designer is creating fetish interpretive clothing. Keep in mind my work explores only one fetish. Mine. There are millions of fetishes and new ones created every day. Fetish is an individualistic process.”
If you happen to be in LA and want a glimpse into the sexy and twisted world of Castro, catch his retrospective at the Antebellum Gallery. Who knows, maybe you’ll find your own kink in the process.