Moving in Shadows – Darryl Curt@!n$ Jackson

He’s a musician who hates concerts, a performer who can’t stand the spotlight; these are a few of the things we learned about Darryl “Curtains” Jackson. I have to suppress my urge to call him Dynamic Darryl, but that’s exactly what he is. He has his hands in any and everything that interests him, and these run the gamut from books, art and music to food and fashion. His current gig as Brand Director for En Noir allows him to be in a business he loves, in exactly the place he prefers: behind the scenes. After a massively successful debut presentation for En Noir at New York Fashion Week at Milk Studios, it’s high time for a little peace and quiet. Today he slept in, something he hasn’t done in ages. Give Curtains a place by the water and a good book. He’ll tell you he was there via Instagram…three days after he’s left…

What does it mean to have style?
Style is character, style is confidence, style is just you. It’s not the clothes, it’s how you present the clothes, you know…two people could have the same outfit but your level of confidence can make you pull it off totally differently than the other person. Style is innate in the person.

So you’re born with style? Or you can learn it…
It can be learned, yes, style can be learned. It can be triggered by your environment, or your interests, or what you’re surrounded with.

Where did you get your nick name, Curt@!n$?
Really stupid. When I was young, you know, everyone tries to come up with their own nick names, and I called myself showstopper, but at seven years old it’s not as cool as it was when you’re five years old, so I had to figure out a name that meant the same thing as showstopper ’cause I liked the meaning, but Curtains just sounded cooler. Curtains just came to me one day.

Were you popular in high school?
Sadly, I was.

Really?
Yeaaah.

I feel like that never happens. It’s usually like, the cool kids now were the nerds back in high school…
Yah, yah I was just always popular. I hated it though.

Why?
It’s not always a good thing. You know, too much attention, too many eyes on you. I like to move in the shadows. So I didn’t always like being popular.

It’s interesting then that you’re in an industry like fashion. Are you in the shadows still where you want to be?I think in the fashion business I am to a degree, because even with En Noir, I barely ever am the focal point. Rob (Garcia) and I like to keep it that way. I like to be standing behind the camera. I’ve probably only done one or two interviews, so that’s cool. I mean people know me or whatever and it’s cool but I’m not an attention whore. I don’t like to jump out there and be like “ah look at me! Look at me!” I’m a worker. I like to just work, make things happen and, you know, just accomplish things. I don’t really care about the attention. Like I said, attention sometimes can be a bad thing.

Has there been a particular instance you can think of where that’s happened to you?
Oh yeah! It happens all the time. It’s like you know, even with the whole social media thing, I have a pretty decent social media following but like okay, my Instagram, I can never make it instant. I never post a picture right then and there. It will be like three days later. And I’ll post a place that I was at and people will think that I’m really there and they will show up there! Like I’ve had that happen. People will be like: “Yo, where you at? I’m here!’ And I’m just like “ugh.”

Some stalker shit.
Yeah it’s really weird. I mean it’s not a bad thing like malicious, people just want to be down, want to be your friend so I try to keep that, like, curtain – no pun intended – between me and the public.

You do music as well…
Yeah. I’ve always done music my whole life, as an artist, and, you know, it’s pretty cool, I like making music. I don’t love the music business as a whole – you know, as like, a job. I love making music, I love performing. Music is my first love.

That’s interesting that you like performing but you don’t like being in the spotlight…
Yeah, it’s really weird. That’s like an artist thing, ’cause if you talk to most artists, like artist artists, not just people who want to be famous, most artists love the art. They love to do their craft, they could care less about the spotlight. And then there’s a difference between people who want to be famous. I never wanted to chase the fame aspect. I just wanted to make great art.

How is music connected to fashion?
In the scope of life, if you think of life as a movie, you know, fashion is how it’s styled, that’s the wardrobe, music is the soundtrack. They play hand-in-hand. Designers look to music for inspiration to design and of course artists look to fashion for inspiration of how to look and visualize their music. You know, it’s why you have the red carpet at The Grammy’s, because it’s like fashion and music play hand-in-hand, and it’s why at runway shows, they play music. It’s a beautiful marriage. They are both two distinct art forms that operate and depend on each other.

Dream concert tickets?
Hmmm…my dream concert ticket… man. Would it be weird of me to say I don’t really like concerts?

It’s fine.
I’ve probably only been to three concert concerts in my life. First one was a Jay Z concert, second one was Kanye, and third was Watch The Throne. Both of them! But if I had to see a concert, I would want to see… Toro Y Moi, him and Miami Horror. I saw Miami Horror perform at Brooklyn Bowl, I would like to see them in  a full out stadium – they were ill.

Speaking of Brooklyn, it’s been said that it’s the coolest city in the world. Do you agree?
One thousand percent.

Why?
Brooklyn is cool without trying. That’s the real soul of New York City, I believe. Manhattan’s too commercial, too touristy. You want to experience New York, you take a trip to Brooklyn.

Have you lived there your whole life?
I grew up in Brooklyn, yes, I still live in Brooklyn. I’ve lived in other places but I always come back to Brooklyn.

Any favourite spots you like to go?
Yah, one of my favourite spots is the Promenade. It’s downtown Brooklyn, like Brooklyn Heights… it’s really peaceful, it’s near the water and across you can see Manhattan and its really peaceful at night. Sometimes I go there by myself and just sit on the bench and just look at the water and look at all the, you know, whatever’s going on in the world – cars driving on the highway, boats passing. It’s really peaceful. Water is peaceful to me. I love water. I live like two blocks away from the water and I like to just walk there all the time.

Tell us about your book club that you started.
I’ve been an avid reader since i was really young. I’d be the kid in school when the Scholastic flyers came around and nobody really cared for them…I would be the kid ordering books.  I just love to read, I don’t know where it came from. My brother used to make me read books and he used to give me cool books. He was always reading and my brother was like the coolest person to me; like anything he did, I would want to do. He liked music? I liked music. He liked reading? I liked reading. He liked clothes? I liked clothes. I looked up to my brother. And I just always liked reading. I read everything. I read this white wall as soon as i sat down in this room. I can’t pass a bookstore without looking in the window. So a book club was something I always wanted to do, I just never found the time to put it together and one of my friends came to me and was like “yo, you should do a book club” and i was like “whatever, lets do it.” It’s been really, really, really successful, in my opinion. Last session we had it was packed, like no seats. Before we even started all the seats were taken up. Every week we grow in numbers and we’ve had celebrities come through and just random people popping in.. it’s really good. Really, really good.

So, with all that reading, would you say you might try writing?

Yeah, I want to. I want to write. Actually, one of my ultimate goals in life is to run a media company. Own a magazine. Be the editor of a magazine. But also a writer. I want to write books and publish books and stuff like that. I think when it’s all said and done, I want to do that in my retirement. Run a publishing/media company.

What kind of magazine would you have?
A lifestyle magazine. Not gender specific just like a good living magazine. Where to eat, where to shop, where to read, the best soda, the best chips, the best sandwich. Just stuff I like that I feel people should be into.

Besides En Noir, what are you favorite menswear lines or designers?
Hedi Slimane hands down. Greatest menswear designer ever to walk planet earth. The stuff he’s doing with Saint Laurent, it’s good. I own a few pieces. Balmain, they were my favourite line for a while but I’m not really there. Dior still keeps a certain place in my heart. Dior was like my absolute favorite brand when Hedi was designing it but it’s kind of been up and down. Thom Browne. Band of Outsiders. Balenciaga’s cool. That’s it really.

What’s your go-to outfit?
That’s easy: my favorite black Dior jeans, black wash. A black Balmain T-shirt. This vintage leather jacket I’m wearing. My favorite white campers Adidas. My favorite black cashmere beanie. If I don’t feel like thinking about clothes, that is it.

And you can go anywhere in that.
ANY-where. It’s the coolest outfit in the world.

Do you have any tattoos?
Many, yes. They are all special to me. I design them all myself. Shakespeare quote “the rob that smiles steals something from the thief,” from Othello, and that’s like the illest quote ever. It basically says, like, don’t let anything ever get you down. I have a few cherubs. I love cherubs. This one is with the shades on, you know, always stay cool, crown for fashion, the boombox for music, sitting on a globe from Scarface – the world is mine. But then, there’s Pinky and the Brain right beside, trying to take over the globe. Destiny in Arabic (from the novel The Alchemist) , I have the infamous Malcolm X ‘By Any Means Necessary’ portrait, and that’s like another big thing in my life. You can do anything. Then i have the Statue of Liberty as interpreted by Keith Haring, who is my favourite artist. I’m getting a lot more though. It all tells a story.

What is the most overused word in fashion?
The most overused word in fashion…hmm…might be FASHION.

I feel that. It has a weird ring to it.
Yeah, fashion has a weird connotation to it. It’s so undefinable. I still don’t know what fashion is. You know, things people call fashion I call ugly. And most things that I think are fashion, some people would say they aren’t.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
If I could have a superpower, it would be reading people’s minds.

Yeah?
Yes. Absolutely. I would want to know who and what I am dealing with at all times. You ever see that movie What Women Want with Mel Gibson? Yeah he can read minds. I need that power.

Do you collect anything?
YES. I’m obsessive. I collect magazines, books, I collect wallets, vintage clothes, vintage rock Tees, I collect luggage. That might be it…OH PINS! I collect pins. I have a crazy pin collection. I collect rocks, like really, like magical rocks, i have a big rock collection…I collect Chanel trinkets. ‘Cause I can’t actually wear Chanel cause they don’t really make men’s stuff, but i love the logo so much that I collect Chanel. I have a Chanel key chain on my keys right now. This wallet. Every hanger in my closet is a Chanel hanger. I collect phones too. I like the design of phones.

I  read somewhere that you said that in the last five years the street wear industry went from bad to worse. Why do you think so?
“Cause there’s no soul in it anymore. Everyone’s just chasing the other person’s tail in front of them. It’s just like a dog chasing its own tail: there’s no creativity, there’s no originality, there’s no anything in it anymore. When street wear first hit it was the boom and it was exciting. There were so many options and so many voices and it was like, “ah man this brand represents this, this brand represents that.” Now? I couldn’t tell ‘em apart. But there are a few brands who know their core and do it well. A brand like Supreme. They are an example of where to go and how to grow as a brand. I love Supreme. I don’t wear it personally, but I love the brand as a whole.

What’s the last thing you bought?
Shoes from Saint Laurent.

What summer style are you looking forward to wearing?
I hate the summer actually. I like jackets. I hate being hot. Well, En Noir made these leather shorts. I can’t wait to wear ‘em. Like go to Miami and just wear them. That might be the one thing for summer.

What do you do for fun?
I like to eat!  I’m a foodie.

What’s your favorite thing to eat?
Cheeseburger and fries. With a glass of Pinot Noir.

Photos by Merrill Moskal.

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