In an interview with
, Formichetti explains that he found a photo of Genest online and posted it to his Facebook wall, mistaking the extensive tattoo-work for masterful makeup. It was only when Formichetti got his own ink that tattoo artist Maxime identified the man in the photo as tattoo aficionado Genest.
Cue Formichetti messaging Genest and asking him to be the face of Mugler
menswear, only to discover that Genest didnt have a passport. Because he was homeless, and owed $10-20,000 in fines for sleeping rough.
Formichetti instructed his lawyers to tackle the legal issues, never veering from his belief that Genest had to be at the heart of his revamped brand.
I remember thinking I have to do this, I just have a gut feeling, I have to work with this guy. Everyone said hes a freak, why would I want to do that to a luxury brand? Anyway, I didnt listen to anyone and just went, he told Hint. [Genest] just kept telling me, Im not a criminal, I'm not a criminal. It took him so long to tell us. Oh my god, he was so emotional. He was crying and saying how this was going to change his life. It was a beautiful moment.
Formichetti paid the fines out of his own pocket, secured a passport, and whisked Genest to Paris Fashion Week and instant catwalk stardom. Then there was the Gaga video... and the rest is fashion history.
See Formichetti's first Mugler womenswear collection