“Shine” is Yuri Pleskun’s nickname inked on his left arm in red and black letters. It was anointed in the streets of Co-op City where the fair-skinned kid stood out long before becoming a male model. Recall the dark-eyed, cloth-clad figure behind Gisele in Balenciaga’s Spring 2011 campaign. That was Pleskuns, er, Shine. Campaign aside, he has quite the oeuvre (from Italian Vogue to the runway at Rick Owens) for a twenty-one-year old discovered three years ago on the two train headed back to the Bronx.
When I meet Yuri, he is wearing a grey t-shirt, black jeans and Nike Dunks. A silver cigarette hangs around his neck and square diamonds sparkle in each of his ears (“twenty dollars on Delancey Street”). His sister’s name, “Lena,” is tattooed on his right arm. She now lives in Westchester, but the two grew up together in Co-op City, the children of Ukranian immigrants. Pleskuns still lives there where he takes care of his grandfather. We’re on our way to East Village restaurant Veselka to pick up authentic Ukranian fare after a day of shooting. He likes pelmini and potato vareniki, a sort of dumpling also known as pierogies. This is where Pleskuns goes when his grandmother’s in town from New Jersey, a sort of throwback to old times.
“Being a kid is tough, everyone knows that; everyone has some rough issues,” Pleskun says of growing up. Before finding his way to fashion, he worked at Burger King, as a carpenter and a school janitor. He shows me his license from the New York Board of Ed, pointing out the title description, which reads simply, “Clean.” Post-janitorial work, it was on to the more dangerous métier of window washer (he once polished the entire exterior of the downtown W hotel). “Pretty scary, but beautiful,” is how Pleskuns describes the dangers of this last gig before he was discovered as a model. He’d never paid much attention to clothes (“we heard the brands in rap songs”) but he decided to give it a go despite being self-described camera shy.
Pleskun’s first big purchase happened only recently, a suit from “some super classy British designer” and YSL black patent leather tap dancing shoes. His prize piece is a big Dunhill sheepskin coat given to him by Kim Jones. Still, he usually goes for the jeans, Dunks and leaves the rest to character. “People respect you by your aura,” he says.
Where do you go from here? Pleskun’s references a television show he’s just watched about mogul Richard Branson. “I want to be able to be on a beach and make money by smiling.”
Funny, he’s kind of already there.
– Stephanie LaCava
Photographed by Patrick Demarchelier
Styled by Katie Grand
Over the years, Katie Grand has bought herself a fair amount of Marc Jacobs womenswear. Her collection now stretched to several rails of clothes and boxes of shoes, big enough, Jacobs reckons, to rival his brand’s own archive. By curious coincidence, both Jacobs and Grand are not dissimilar sizes. So when it came to finding a model for this very personal Marc Jacobs retrospective, who better than the man himself?
Black wool hat (worn throughout), autumn/winter 2007; Pink flower necklace, spring/summer 2011; Lace monogram fan by Louis Vuitton, spring/summer 2011; Mens’ black shirt (worn throughout) by Marc Jacobs, Marc Jacobs’ own.
Burgundy sunglasses, spring/summer 2011; Purple cotton coat, spring/summer 2002; Brown clutch bag, spring/summer 2011; Mary Jane shoes, autumn/winter 2001. Grey stockings by Prada
Dark blue lurex skirt, spring/summer 2009; multi-coloured wedges, spring/summer 2011
Necklace, autumn/winter 2007; Blue wide leg trousers, spring/summer 2002; Glitter platform sandals, spring/summer 2011
Marc pulled on one of the coats, put his hand in the pocket and found a Louis Vuitton Murakami phone charm that I must have been carrying the last time I wore it. He gave me a funny look and said, “I’m actually wearing your clothes. This feels a bit weird.” - Katie Grand
Blue and black sequined skirt, autumn/winter 2005; Mary Janes, autumn/winter 2011
Pale multicoloured coat with fur collar and gold buttons, fall/winter 2004; Black shirt by Marc Jacobs, Marc Jacobs’ own; Leopard-print pony skin court shoes, fall/winter 2006; Black felt and knitted wool hat with brimmed detail, fall/winter 2007. Grey stockings by Prada. Black briefs, Marc Jacobs’ own
Mauve waistcoat and matching A-line skirt, spring/summer 2002; Burgundy shoulder bag, spring/summer 2011; Mary Jane shoes, autumn/winter 2001
Tweed jacket and matching skirt, spring/summer 2003
Hair by Ashley Javier for Kerastase; Make-Up by Ozzy Salvatierra; Manicure by Honey; Set Design by Stefan Beckman; Fashion Assistants Sari Zoe Rozins and Alexandra Horton; Shot at Patrick Demarchelier Studio