THADDEUS O’NEIL

THADDEUS O’NEIL

HOBOS AND HELLS ANGELS

Designer Thaddeus O’Neil recalls his introduction, at five years old, to photographer Bruce Weber’s world.

When I was five years old, Bruce Weber asked my dad, sister, and me to be a part of his photographs.

It marked the beginning of a wonderful relationship and unspoken mentorship with him.

The first couple of shoots we did together were very defining for me, and are still my favorites to date. One was with the Hells Angels, shot at Bruce’s home.

I remember wanting to be as cool, tough, and wild as the hairy, leathered guys around me.

While we were having lunch, someone must have given me a beer, because I ended up chasing one of the bikers with the empty bottle straight into the pool.

There we were, me and this Hells Angel floating in our leather outfits. Bruce found that so funny.

He dressed us as a tribe of outcast Neverland hobos and tramps for another shoot. We wore baggy, holey clothes with hats, had weird haircuts, ‘lived’ in boxes, and ‘smoked’ cigars.

It felt very NAUGHTY and TRANSGRESSIVE.

I had so much fun, but I would act quite crazy on set at times — my dad got fed up once and really let me have it. You can see it on our faces in a portrait:

me pouting and my dad burning with momentarily contained fury.

My mom ripped that photo out of L’Uomo Vogue and framed it. It still hangs proudly in the living room, albeit a bit sun-faded.

— as told to The Thick

Did you see? Baja East’s John Targon & Scott Studenberg remember their collection’s debut in an iconic fashion bible, a morning on the farm with designer and stylist, Ryan Roche & Laura Ferrara, in bucolic upstate New York.

 

All photography by Bruce Weber, all photographs courtesy of Thaddeus O’Neil