“When I was a kid, I wanted to be a dentist—now I can lick someone’s teeth during a makeout, but that’s probably it. [Laughs] My main focus in high school was to figure out how to be gay—how to come out of the closet and get a boyfriend. I was always looking for fantasy and escape, and I found that in art. I would make Barbie clothes, or draw houses—I ended up going to Parsons to study fine arts and business. Graphics was really my number one passion. Anything involving the manipulation of text and imagery is what excites me the most.
When I first got to New York, I was a self-diagnosed club rat. I spent all my time at Lotus and Pangea and Hiro—or Bergdorf Goodman. I always had a variety of jobs to pay for it. One of my first internships was for this shoe designer, Ruthie Davis. Learning the business side, the operational side, was super interesting to me. My first job out of school was doing sales on the Prada footwear team. When I started working there, I became addicted to work. I would get to the Prada headquarters before they would open the doors, and I’d hide in the bathroom until 7AM, when the lights officially went on. I was always driven by the idea of succeeding, so I became a workaholic.
I went on to work at Givenchy, and then Celine, where I did all of the visual merchandising and store design stuff. Sales, visual merchandising, set up and design all gave me background that helped me start my own thing. The starter idea was to create a truly gender neutral brand—cozy, jetset luxe, with this kind of beach-meets-street concept. I had made some clothes for projects in school, and I loved textiles, but I didn’t really have the technical skills—I would take ideas that I had, mash them up digitally, and then work with seamstresses to get them made. When Baja East launched in 2013, we leveraged that sales background by taking it to the stores we had relationships with. It’s amazing how people want to come out to support you. That’s the first time I learned that if you jump, a net will catch you. My biggest fear was taking that jump. Starting a business is not a joke. I applaud everyone who has done it, because it’s a no sleep kind of thing. But you don’t care, because it’s your passion. You love it. You find a way.
After Baja East, I worked on a variety of projects for larger brands, like Diet Coke. While I was doing some consulting and freelance projects, I got a call from LVMH and got a job at Marc Jacobs—which was… short lived. For a huge chunk of time, I was living in a lot of shame. Certain things didn’t work out the way I had planned—I don’t think people talk enough about their shortcomings, and I think all shortcomings are part of a bigger picture. There’s a musical chairs of things. Out of that, I decided to create a brand called Fall Risk. A fall risk is when you’re in the hospital and you’re not meant to stand up on your own because you’re at risk of falling over. I wanted a space that had zero judgments, where all were welcome—fall, risk, repeat. The mentality came from that. I had also looked at the fashion cycle and decided that I didn’t want to create 80-piece collections to get to 10 of my favorite things. So Fall Risk is a collection of limited, special pieces—the perfect edit.
When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is pray and do a 20-minute meditation. I want to have fun, I want to be filled with love, and I want to be thoughtful in everything that I do. Meditation allows me a pause, and time to think before I speak. That’s every single morning, without fail, and I end my day the same way. Spirituality has always been a hum—living my truth, being a good person, and the idea that there’s something greater than myself have been constant pulls for me. I studied Kabbalah when I was 17, and it’s evolved to what it is now. Then I check the screen—The Post and Susan Miller for my horoscope. I’m a Scorpio. [Laughs]
I fucking swear by the Wellness Formula from Source Naturals. If I even have the thought of a cold, I take three pills every three hours for a week—I never get sick. They are the size of horse pills, and some people think they taste like soy sauce, but they work. I also take a multivitamin. I like pasta—I can’t lie about that. I love Bar Pitti and Loring Place, but the rest of my diet is really lean meats and veggies.
I like how a face scrub makes me feel clean and smooth, but I actually learned that some scrubs tear your skin. I’ve been trying not to use them as much for the past month, but I like this glycolic one from Nip and Fab. I always use a toner—it’s either the True Botanicals Nutrient Toner or the Ole Henriksen one. I use a lot of Ole Henriksen products because the packaging speaks to me. It’s bright, colorful, and happy. My morning routine always includes Tend Skin as well. It’s for ingrowns, but if I ever get a spot I’ll put it on that, too. It’s a miracle. Then I use Truth Serum and an Ole Henriksen Oil Control Moisturizer, with another moisturizer over that—I’ve been using La Prairie, or the Hydra Global from Sisley. I also sometimes use this All Day Mask from Allies of Skin. And then it’s some sort of undereye—I like these patches from Patchology, or these Panda Eye Essence Masks. I use an SPF from Honest over moisturizer [Editor's note: discontinued] and everything else. I’m Italian, and I seem to pick up a tan pretty well, but I try to stay out of the sun. I’ll set a timer, and give myself 10 minutes each weekend. I’m pretty anal about it.
I do get Botox. I thought I was looking tired, and I just decided to fuck it. I do my forehead and around the crow’s feet, but it’s actually been eight months since I re-upped. I go to Dr. Catherine Orentreich. I’m 36 and people tell me I look younger than that, which I like—I don’t really think I should fuck with my routine. But I’m also super open to trying things, like this Korean brand Belif—I was using them for a while. The thing I use consistently is the Hanacure mask that makes you look wrinkly. I use that when I need a facelift, quick—like, tighten me up! These I’m Pro Ampoule Pads are also really incredible. They’re like $3, and you look completely refreshed.
The extent of my makeup would be brows, concealer, and shine. I do not go without Boy Brow, but I use it with a clear gel from Anastasia. I use Touche Éclat under my eyes, and a lip plumper from Too Faced. I don’t know if it works, but I fuck with it. I use Supergoop Glow Stick on my nose and cheekbones—it’s an SPF, but I like the shine. Sometimes I’ll put it on my neck or upper chest, too. It just gives you that little shine where you look like you ran even if you didn’t.
I shampoo every day—I’m on a hair maintenance progrance from Hims, and I have noticed an incredible change in my hair. The recommendation actually came from my friend Tommy Buckett, who cuts my hair. He said he was noticing some thinning, and that I had to get on this right away. It’s on a subscription model, which makes it all seamless. You do the shampoo, a pill, and then a topical gel that you put on the spots that you feel need attention and love. I think it stopped the pockets where I was losing hair, and the rest has become fuller.
For product, I use the Shu Uemura Kengo Feather cream, or Davines paste, or Bumble and Bumble Sumotech wax. It just depends on whether I want to look air-dried effortless or if I want a bit more volume and texture. And I always apply product when my hair's still damp—that’s my go-to. After I put on product, sometimes I put on a hat for a while, then take it off and re-style. It kind of mats down my hair so it goes the way I want it to. The biggest things that I change about my look are my hair and glasses. I’m done with fades—I was getting a fade for a while, and now I want everything to look as natural and effortless as possible. I love the no-haircut haircut where you’re just like, ‘Dust that for me.’ You know?
There is somebody to outsource maintenance to for everything. I do body grooming at Hush. I wax my nose hairs, and trim my pits, balls, everything—I mean, literally, he shaves my nuts. I go every four to five weeks. I do maintenance on my moustache every eight or nine days at Freemans, which is right around the corner from my office, and I get my brows occasionally trimmed and plucked at Joey Healy. I’ve been tweezing my brows since I was 15—when I was young my mom would always yell at me for spending too much time in the bathroom. Even in my own house, the idea of beauty maintenance wasn’t applied to guys. I noticed it from early on, but it never stopped me. And I get a manicure and pedicure wherever’s cheapest.
In the shower, I use a body wash from Objets d’Art and Spirit, which is this healing center in LA. You do a reading, and they give you different things depending on what you’re looking to focus on. I also have a bunch of oils and chakra sprays. I very much believe in that. I use the Star body wash, because I want my star to shine. I also use a Rub N’ Buff scrub from Ole Henriksen on my elbows, knees, and feet. I follow that with Body Sleek from Ole Henriksen, and I also use a Palmer’s Cocoa Butter oil. I had stretch marks on my lower back and ass that I wanted to get rid of, and it does work.
I get massages occasionally, and I have done both cryo and infrared too. I’ve also done this cold-hot treatment called Kryobody that targets areas of fat. I did my abdomen, my muffin top… I’ve lost about an inch and a half each time I did it, and I did it about 15 times. I go to this place called Kollectiv, which is super rad—they have infrared, reiki, cryo, Kryo. I try to be regular with fitness, and am actually going to do the Northeast AIDS Cycle in September. I was a SoulCycle junkie, but now Barry’s is my main fitness routine—it's an incredible workout, and I see results in my body with it. And anything that gets my endorphins up has a similar effect for me as meditation. It’s part of the total effect.
I was using Old Spice deodorant, but now I have one from Tom’s with no aluminum. When I’m feeling extra slutty, I use Creed Aventus. It’s super strong, but not as strong as Tom Ford fragrances. I actually backed off of those because I always felt like a complete whore. [Laughs] I also use things from Byredo and Kilian... Every so often, if I’m feeling a bit retro, I’ll use Acqua di Gio. I use a fragrance every morning, and at night if I’m going out. Honestly though, I think body funk is hot. I’m not looking to mask that."
—as told to ITG
John Targon photographed by Tom Newton in New York on August 7, 2019.