Photographer Jeremy Kost Would Rather Buy Art Than Clothes

Jeremy with his work.Photo: Melissa Hom

Jeremy Kost’s claim to fame rests firmly with his Polaroids. The downtown photographer got his start without seeming to try, and now he’s an artiste célèbre. With an upcoming gallery show alongside Hedi Slimane and a book with Sam Shahid in the works, we had to dig through his closet, literally. Find out what he can’t live without, and who Kost thinks has the best style.

How did you decide to become a photographer?
It really started as a social buffer. I just kept taking it out, shooting and shooting, and realized the photos were interesting. Then, in 2004, at Amanda Lepore’s birthday, David LaChapelle was in town. We ended up back at Pamela Anderson’s hotel room at the Four Seasons, and he looked at my photographs and said, “These are really good.” So that was the moment where I was like, “Cool, I can do this!”

You shoot only with a Polaroid camera — have you thought of going digital?
There’s something about the texture and quality of a Polaroid that I love way too much to try anything else.

Smile!Photo: Melissa Hom

Since they’ve stopped production, what are you going to do when the Polaroid film runs out?
Crossing that bridge when I get there, haven’t quite figured it out. Maybe I’ll focus on books.

You have books coming out?
Yeah, Hugo Boss is theoretically helping to sponsor one about the whole downtown scene that I really cut my teeth on. And then Sam Shahid and I are doing one on the objectification of boys.

You’ve shot tons of big celebrities, like Beyoncé and Angelina Jolie. Is it different working with them?
All of my works deals with celebrity, just in different contexts. Whether it’s a go-go boy downtown, or a transsexual in Thailand, or Nicole Kidman, it’s this contemporary idea of celebrity. You have people becoming MySpace stars now.

How do you negotiate working in both the art world and then going backstage at shows or shooting at fashion parties?
I think that some artists have become rock stars, like Murakami, Jeff Koons, Richard Prince. They’re sitting front-row at fashion shows and going to Calvin Klein dinners. I think everybody likes to pretend that they look down on each other, but secretly they want to be a part of those worlds.

How would you describe your personal style?
Thrown-together and easy.

Who do you think has a great sense of style?
Club kids and drag queens. I think what they do is really incredible — defining your own style and performing around onstage or on the street. They blow me out of the water.

What’s one thing you think every guy should have in his closet?
Ksubi jeans. I used to get yelled at for wearing baggier jeans, and then I bought these, which aren’t even that skinny but are better.

What do you think of guys in super, super skinny jeans?
If you can’t get them on without really struggling, give me a break.

Where do you shop?
Bblessing, Opening Ceremony. Moss is great, inspiration-wise. But I’d always rather buy art.

Favorite designers?
I don’t know how he stays in business but I love what Zac Posen does. So theatrical.

What was the first designer item you ever bought?
A Gucci leather jacket. My friend used to work at Gucci corporate. So my splurge would always be when things went 60percent—off, and I would get another 50-percent discount.

What fall trends do you love?
Y-3 gave me these amazing gold sneakers. Terence [Koh] is obsessed with them — he has like, five pairs. So, I’m kind of loving metallic sneakers.

Is there anything you see on the street that you wish you never saw again?
Tevas and Birkenstocks. Just go spend $20 on a pair of Marc Jacobs flip-flops. —Kendall Herbst

Photographer Jeremy Kost Would Rather Buy Art Than Clothes