Clad in oversized Calvin Klein boxer briefs and mismatched stockings, Jake Levy is smoking an American Spirit as he fingers through a clothing rack in his Flatbush apartment. Jake's friends, a beautiful, well-dressed bunch that look like they could be cast in a Harmony Korine movie, are strewn on a mattress listening to Ciara and critiquing his outfits.
The 24-year-old stylist opts for a vintage Moschino button-down covered in phrases like "Non-conformist" and "Attention" before converting it into a makeshift pencil skirt to pair with a sheer gold tank top. This is his look for "Thotlandia," a rager he's co-hosting tonight at Bushwick's Club Republic.
While Jake's often spotted at NYC's of-the-moment parties, the LA transplant has had a diverse array of day jobs that include working in a birthing clinic to babysitting to note-taking for focus groups. Fashion, however, is his main love. After a modeling scout found him on Instagram, he was cast in shows for Vaquera and 69 Worldwide during NYFW this past February. And what began as a vacation ended up being a permanent stay. "I had to be [in New York] to realize 'Oh wait, it's all here.' I needed to come here to have it smacked into me that 'you will continue to be a nanny forever unless you change your location'," he explains between sips of white wine. So he cancelled his flight back to LAX, moved to Brooklyn, and here we are. Recently, he's been making the transition from model to stylist and has styled shoots for Editorial Magazine, Novembre Magazine and Bullett Media. He was also one of the forces behind Instagram trend #HeelConcept.
As Jake continues to get ready, he lets us talk to him about everything from thot culture, Marc Jacobs, and political theory. Read his thoughts, and check out Rebecca Smeyne's photos, below.
"[My dad] brought me to work one day [to his office at the Virgin Records headquarters] and it turned out the Spice Girls were coming in. And they were obsessed with me...There's photos of Ginger and Scary Spice playing tug-of-war with me and they were like 'He's my boyfriend!' 'No, he's MY boyfriend!' I'm not humble about it."
"I don't identify as trans. I'm sort of a transvestite in that I wear women's clothing...I wouldn't refer to it as drag. Drag is definitely performing a gender, and when I wear a dress I'm not trying to perform a specific gender. It's what I think looks good on my body."
"My favorite episode of Sex and the City is 'Splat!' when that woman falls out the window. The reason why that's my favorite episode, besides the fact that the woman falls out the window, is because Carrie Bradshaw wore the most amazing Marc Jacobs dress from the fall 2002 ready-to-wear collection in that scene."
"By the time I was 10, I had a crazy knowledge of the history of movies. Most of the movies I wasn't allowed to see but one of the fun things about that is I'd imagine what those movies were based on information, so I'd fill in the blanks. I think that's still so much a part of me. I feel like, even as a stylist now, I like having certain limitations and filling in certain blank spaces that aren't immediately present."
"I have my own idea of what thots are. It refers to a lot of girlfriends or wives of powerful people but also people who are powerful in and of themselves. And some people might be like 'It's a hoe,' but I'm sorry because a thot is a caretaker. Not in a negative, demeaning way but in a loving way."
"Here, the nightlife situation is very much related to the fashion industry and other media industries. It's a more multifaceted scene [compared to Los Angeles]. You can be a nightlife person and be a stylist."