Clad in a crisp black designer suit, he scours the streets of Manhattan for street style that will be seen by millions of fashion enthusiasts on the pages of Dazed and Confused Magazine. But that’s only half of the story about renowned fashion photographer, Mark Reay.
A recently released documentary-turned-movie, Homme Less, follows the life of Reay as he tells his story about living in a tent on a rooftop in the East Village of New York for six years. It’s here the 56-year-old photographer reveals all about preparing for shoots in public toilets and keeping up appearances through a sustained period of homelessness.
A former runway model for Versace, Reay started working for Dazed in 2007 and began a seven year career of shooting at prestige runway shows including Alexander Wang, Jeremy Scott and Hood By Air, even rubbing shoulders with the likes of Marc Jacobs and models Karlie Kloss and Lindsey Wixson.
‘When I graduated from the University of Charleston, I didn’t foresee myself living homeless for a large period of my adult life,’ Reay says in the movie. ‘To begin with, it started out as wanderlust. After I graduated, I decided to backpack around Europe. I’d always wondered if I could become a model, but it wasn’t until I headed to Brussels that I got signed.’
He moved back to New York at 29, when he heard his father was dying and found work as a model. He also worked as an actor, featuring as a ‘suit’ in Men in Black 3 and an ‘international playboy’ in Sex and the City.
His story was filmed by friend and director, Thomas Wirthensohn, who reconnected with Reay in 2008 after first meeting him in Europe in the ’80s.
‘Mark and I kept in touch over the years and when I moved to New York we reconnected,’ Wirthensohn reminisced on an interview with Dazed. ‘Catching up in a fancy bar I asked him where he was living in the city and then he told me that for the last three years he had been sleeping outside. I was shocked but knew right away that I wanted to make a film about his story. One week later he agreed and we started filming.’
The documentary Homme Less premiered at the 2014 Kitzbuhel Film Festival and was re-released this year on the 7th of August.
Watch the trailer below and tell us what you think by leaving a comment or tweeting us at @ELLEmagazineSA.