Band of Outsiders designer Scott Sternberg has always marched to the beat of his own drum, one that’s probably a little too small and covered in tiny hand-drawn doodles. For Spring 2013, he brought his show to Paris for the first time, presenting a sixty-hour live stream of model Brendan Ruck living in a gallery window and changing into a new look every ninety minutes. Sternberg took inspiration from protest movements, with the double quotation mark design that popped up here and there—including on the picket signs Ruck spent much of his time painting—serving as the overarching motif. Elsewhere, there were the brand’s trademark cropped fits and quirky prints, all in service of a slightly wonky preppy aesthetic, including sailor stripes and little embroidered sailboats straight off the docks. Sternberg also demonstrated his ability to shift American classics slightly askew, as in a sweatshirt with a trompe l’oeil toggle coat front and a madras-patch three-piece ensemble begging for a trip to Kennebunkport. It was just the sort of playful collection we’ve come to expect from Band of Outsiders, charming and humorous, but still full of highly desirable pieces like the perfect slate-gray anorak Ruck wore as he emerged from his captivity. Ruck spoke with MDC recently about Stockholm syndrome, getting mooned during his historic Paris Fashion Week debut, and why living in a box for three days is still easier than planting trees.
MDC: When did you first find out all the details about the presentation?
Brendan: My booker emailed me a few weeks before Milan Fashion Week and said that Band of Outsiders had a special request. It ended up being pretty special.
MDC: What was your thought process like in deciding to do the presentation?
Brendan: It was fast. I had just woken up when I read the email. I thought Scott was cool and I had never been to Paris before, so I said yes. And I had just quit a really physical nine-to-five job so I thought it would be easy.
MDC: What was the other job?
Brendan: The other job was tree-planting. I was getting tired of modeling in New York so I decided to take some time off and go tree-planting with my brothers. It was a really humbling experience and it gave me a new perspective on life and the opportunities that I had modeling. So after a month I decided that I wanted to go back and do Milan Fashion Week and that was that.
MDC: Did you have plans to come to Paris Fashion Week before you booked the Band of Outsiders show?
Brendan: I just came for Band of Outsiders. I hadn’t done Paris Fashion Week until now. I don’t have an agency here. I’m happy I didn’t have to run around to any castings.
MDC: You’ve worked with Band of Outsiders and designer Scott Sternberg before. Did you and Scott get a chance to talk about this show before you started?
Brendan: Yes we did. We spoke on Skype a few weeks before the show and went over everything. He said it wasn’t going to be too serious and that I could do it. Thanks Scott. I did it!
MDC: What did you do to pass the time?
Brendan: I took naps, usually in the looks that had sunglasses. I read a book that Scott gave me called Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, which I liked a lot. I also drew pictures, took photographs, and painted all of the protesting signs in my compartment with the stencils they gave me. I really took my time and did a good job. They were aligned and centered perfectly and had the same color schemes as the quotation marks on the pins and in the collection.
MDC: Did you have any interesting encounters with people outside?
Brendan: I did actually. Someone mooned me. I was trying to get to sleep one night and these people kept banging on the glass. When I finally looked up someone was mooning me. I don’t think he knew that he was participating in a live stream. Also a stranger asked me out via email and wouldn’t stop emailing me. I made it so that their emails go straight to my spam folder. Stranger things could have happened.
MDC: What did you miss the most during the show?
Brendan: I’m not sure. My bed? Showering? Privacy. I didn’t miss too much. It was only three days and I had it pretty good in my compartment. I read a news article that said I was eating instant noodle soup, which is false. I ate takeout French food for every meal and drank beer with my dinner. They spoiled me. I almost didn’t want to leave.