Fashion & Article by Justin Howard @Jthnomad
Photography by Sharlene Durfey @Sharlenedurfey
Model by Nats Getty @NatsGetty
Hair & Make Up by Mishelle Parry @MishyParry
“Fuck what everybody thinks, at the end of the day.” That’s really what I wish knew back then. I guess I had to find out the hard way, because standing where I am, I am very comfortable, very open and honest about with myself and about myself.”
~ Nats Getty, Model & Designer of Strike Oil
Framing A Getty
A rising star in the fashion world who is fast making a name for herself from New York to Los Angeles, model and designer Nats Getty got her start working with iconic photographer David LaChapelle and being her brother, couture designer August Getty ‘official’ muse. Nats Getty is rocketing her love of fashion to the next level with the launch of her own line, Strike Oil jackets.
Justin Howard – So describe to me how you discovered you were a ‘Getty’?
Nats Getty – So I grew up in Santa Monica, with my mom, dad and brother, and went to school. Had the whole family life thing and went to The Willows, and went multiple times to the Getty on field trips. My mom always came with the class. I just assumed she was a chaperone on the field trips. I was still clueless until I was 9 or 10, when I went to boarding school. My other cousins went there as well but with the last name Getty, mine is Williams, so it never really got brought up. We never spoke about it. It was just my name. Then when I went to boarding school I was told who I am and who my family is. Or perceived to be.
Justin Howard – Where did you go to school?
Nats Getty – I went to The Willows in LA and I went to boarding school in England in Oxford.
Justin Howard – Now who exactly is your mom?
Nats Getty – Ariadne Getty.
Justin Howard – Tell me about the adventures, after you found out you were a Getty. I know during the photo shoot you told me you used to get into some interesting trouble making.
Nats Getty – Yes I definitely did. I lived in LA for the first eight years of my life and I was a skater, surfer girl and definitely was my dad’s daughter. My brother was super creative, we were both polar opposites and yet there was something very similar about us. Then we moved to England and I went to boarding school when I was 9 and we were these kinda crazy outsiders from LA and everyone was British and uptight and hated us. Didn’t get to my brother who much preferred to sit around designing dresses, where I preferred to be outside trying to skate board and in England that didn’t really fly. We went to boarding school and we both dove head first into the British ways and being fucking shameless.
I was definitely a huge trouble maker. But I was also a pretty good kid. It was definitely unbelievable how I got away with it. I would somehow manage to get straight A’s and but also always be on every teachers shit list. Always on the verge of being suspended, but had amazing grades and kept them, though I don’t know how. I mean the drinking age there is dangerously low. So the lack of supervision and the freedom I was given at boarding school definitely led to a lot of trouble.
Justin Howard – It sounds like besides getting into trouble, this freedom at boarding school allowed you to discover yourself at an early age because of that.
Nats Getty – Yeah, 100% because of that I was at the age of 14 having to plan out my day. I had class until 4PM and then from 4PM onwards the day was mine. So I had to figure it out, and I definitely learned a lot about myself. And kinda grew up, it sometimes feels like, because of all my experiences I have lived multiple lives. I look back on England and think ‘Wow, boarding school feels like a whole life time ago.” I don’t even recognize that person. That was not even ten years ago.
Justin Howard – Can you share some of those moments of awakenings – those moments of ‘oh my god, this is the person I want to be’ and ‘this is the person I don’t want to be’?
Nats Getty – Totally. I recall I was moving back to LA from England, because I dropped out of school when I was 16. Because I couldn’t deal with England anymore. Again I was living on my own with my Aunt. I was helping run her charity with her. But outside of a couple hours a day, again, I was left alone to do my own stuff. I started realizing that I was gay… And I had no idea. I mean even though I was in the heart of Los Angeles, I couldn’t tell anyone. Because everyone I was still friends with everyone in boarding school. And I was just transitioning, moving. I was moving back to LA at 16, 17 years old and figuring out I was gay.
I figured out I was in love with my tutor who was tutoring me for the school I was in the middle of dropping out of. I kept having crushes on girls and I was like ‘this is just a thing’, but by the 4th one I kinda figured out that I was gay at this point. The strange thing is that I never ‘officially’ had to come out. I literally told no one, and everyone was like ‘Yeah, dude, we know.’ My mom said to me, the real quote from my mom, was she said “Yeah of course I know that you’re gay, I carried you around in my stomach for 9 months, I knew the second you were born you were gay,” I was like “You could have told me a couple years ago, it would have been helpful.”
Justin Howard – Speaking on that note, you’re in this interesting category, you are a social icon in a sense and to put it bluntly how have you found being made into a role model for the LGBT community? How have you dealt with that?
Nats Getty – No one can speak about being a role model, I mean no matter how hard I try not to sound like a dick talking about it, I sound like a dick. I feel that a lot, certainly in the sense that I personally with my mom and my brother work really closely with Sarah Kate at GLAAD which is the media for the Gay and Lesbian community, and with the LGBT Center here in LA. We work very closely through my mom’s foundation and we attend a lot of their events. I am starting a workshop, where I am taking the jackets I make and other clothes to the Gay & Lesbian Center, I am going to hold a workshop for anyone who wants to attend and make jackets with people there and then giving them the leather jackets, because the Center has a huge problem with not having enough clothes for people who are at the Center. So in that sense I definitely feel like a role model, or I hope that I come off in some way helpful to somebody. Because I wish I had that when I was 15 and confused, figuring out this stuff.
Justin Howard – Have you had an encounter with someone who says “You have touched my life, thank you.” Have you had that moment?
Nats Getty – I mean again, only a really insanely humble person would like lie and say “No one ever said that.” But I am not that humble, and so yeah honestly I have. That happened today, because I went to buy cigarettes and this guy stops me and started talking to me about how he ended up homeless and I didn’t have the heart not to listen to him. I ended up giving him thirty bucks and he hugged me and whatever, he said “You definitely changed my life today.” I was like “I really didn’t, it is ok, I don’t think I did but thank you.” So yeah that has happened before.
Justin Howard – You mentioned something I wanted to touch on. You said earlier how you wished you had this experience when you were 15 and confused. I do so love that term ’15 and confused.’ This is going to sound trite, but what is the one piece of advice or knowledge you discovered about yourself that you wish everyone knew?
Nats Getty – It is one thousand percent, without a doubt, to put in one sentence “Fuck what everybody thinks, at the end of the day.” I wish that when I was 15 and confused, 16, 17 that, even 5 and 4 and confused, whatever that I was told “Fuck what the world thinks, be whoever you want to be” I wish that I had not cared as much as I did when I was younger, because I spent so much time trying to be what I thought was quote on quote ‘perfect’ to grow up now and have everything that makes me not a perfect person in so many different capacities but that’s what makes me interesting to different people. Or so I am told.
Like it has come full circle, because there was a time I did not really care for myself because I wasn’t the perfect girl, the perfect person and the perfect whatever, I was so confused because I was trying to figure out if I was gay or not. I had nothing really to look up to, or anyone to go to. I just wish I had the knowledge and the balls to literally just say ‘Fuck it, it doesn’t matter what people’s opinions are or what they say.” Sticks and Stones kinda stuff. That’s really what I wish knew back then. I guess I had to find out the harder way, because standing where I am, I am very comfortable, very open and honest about with myself and about myself. I feel like when I was younger I was being a lie because I was so immature, too scared to be, to know who and what I was. So I hid it with so much stuff, I was so worried about what people would think. What they would and did say. Because I definitely wasn’t the most popular person, I was definitely bullied when I was younger. All that kinda stuff.
Justin Howard – Thank you for sharing that.
Nats Getty – Sure.
Justin Howard – Let’s talk about modeling, because as you put it ‘It is what makes you different that makes people draw to you.’ When they see your style, you automatically draw people’s eyes towards you. Because you do have, I don’t want to say a mannish look to you, but because you do have a young boyish, androgynous look to you.
Nats Getty – Yeah, as my girlfriend so lovely puts it “Nats, you look like an eleven-year-old boy. Like Stop It!”
Justin Howard – *Shocked Laughter* How is that? I mean you get a lot of people who request you because you are androgynous-looking, youthful-looking. How does looking like an eleven- year-old boy affect your modeling and how do you come to terms with that?
Nats Getty – It is crazy. It has been wild. I have only been modeling for I think for a year and a half now. I started pursuing modeling two years ago now. I got signed pretty much immediately. I never thought it would actually be a ‘thing.’ I just thought it was something “I would try this and I would get to say I tried this and I can look back in twenty years and have some really cool photos to look at of myself. Doing some really cool things I would have never done if I hadn’t said yes to this opportunity.” It has really become something. I have people who request me for a lot of things, from all different kinds of pieces. I was just in my brother’s fashion show that was August with David LaChapelle. David didn’t know I was related to August, and he didn’t see a professional head shot picture of me. He just saw a selfie of me by mistake when they were showing him the models to pick from. He said I want to base the show around this girl, around her hair and her look. August said “Wait, that is my sister, that picture wasn’t supposed to be in there.” I didn’t even know I was in the show at that point.
He ended up picking me and having me be the core of it. That was extremely high end women’s couture. You know my brother’s line, August Getty Atelier, is very very high end. Saint Laurent has reached out to my agents for potential times to get up to date pictures on me. So it is pretty wild to see, to be in this large scope of people who are interested in what I bring to the table with my looks, my style, my vibe. I assumed there were going to be boundaries, I knew that I wasn’t going to be a woman’s Billabong model, I am not about tits and ass. That’s not really my vibe. That’s not me. But outside of that I have been all over the place. In terms of just modeling, it is shirtless with jeans on and Stan Smiths, shooting with Tyler Shields or Michael Muller on the beach in a gown with my girlfriend holding a penguin on a leash. Once I was in South Central at midnight with Tyler Shields and he made me take my shirt off again to smoke a cigarette in front of a historical building because it looked cool and afterwards I was breaking into train tracks in a dress. I have done a lot in terms of modeling. It is crazy how large the scope is. I didn’t realize I would be able to be as interchangeable as I have become, in terms of what and how I model.
Justin Howard – Do you think because you are a ‘Getty’ that has opened doors for you?
Nats Getty – The question has been asked before. When I started modeling, my agents asked me “Do you have an issue with your name being attached to you?” I sat, I thought about it, and I was like I don’t have a problem with that because it is my name. T his is who I am, why would I try to run from who I am? It is the one thing that is like forever, it is family. That is the one thing I have always known to be true. I hold that near and dear to my heart. I would never pretend to be anything that I am not. At the end of the day I am a ‘Getty’ that is who I am. Do I think it has opened doors in some sense, so yeah. Because my mom has friends who have known her for years and I don’t think it is the name itself that is opening doors. It is more my family, and the friendships they had and continued to have. Like there is a lot of interest to be generated about me and my brother. But at the end of the day I don’t think it is ripping down walls and kicking open doors for me.
Justin Howard – I like that quote “It isn’t ripping down walls for me.” That is a very balanced perspective to have. It is your mom and people that you have grown up around that know you.
Nats Getty – Exactly. It is because I have been able to live, I mean if there is one thing that I don’t do, it is to hide that part of my life. So I have been able to live a privileged life. I am extremely grateful for anything that leads to friends, opportunities that I now have.
Justin Howard – Well, personally speaking I can definitely say you’re not a spoiled rich brat.
Nats Getty – *Laughs* Thank You! I appreciate that, Justin.
Justin Howard – You’re welcome. Now let’s talk fashion! As you mentioned earlier, your brother is August Getty who is making a name for himself as a high-end atelier in the fashion world. How is it being his Muse?
Nats Getty – Oh yeah, another thing I forgot to mention from my resume is that I am August’s Official Muse. Working with August is incredible, it is incredible in some many different senses. One to see my little brother being this successful in a passion I have seen in him since he was able to pick up a pencil is incredible. The satisfaction I get as an older sister when Kylie Jenner wore his dress to the Diamond Ball the other night, and Jennifer Lopez wore another piece of his to something else two weeks ago. When I was in his first runway show, and it was the first time I ever walked a runway which was at New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. It has been incredible just a big sister being proud. And it is incredible because it has thrown me into an area of fashion that I don’t think I would ever really bridge over to if it hadn’t been for August because it isn’t really my style.
It is not my first pick, but now I go to his studio and he asks my opinion on pieces and I give it to him, and he listens to it now. Which is crazy that I do have an opinion. It has completely made my range of knowledge of fashion a whole lot wider. It has made me be more open and not shut down, because I used to look at women’s dresses and go ‘Blah’ because I prefer jeans. Now I can appreciate things from all sides of the spectrum. That is rad because I can incorporate that into my own designs, the very way I think about clothing and fashion now. I have a really different sense than I used to.
Justin Howard – How has your experience being a model, since you have done couture, runway and South Central at Midnight smoking. How has that experience of professionally wearing clothes translated into your designs?
Nats Getty – Fashion has always been part of me, even when I look back at pictures of me when I was 10, I am horrified at my outfit choices. But I look about at think “Wait, you are wearing a gangster skater tie shirt that right now on Fairfax that would be 500 dollars, and you are wearing dup ripped jeans that you cut and painted yourself when you were a kid.” And now I am experiencing a different side of fashion that I never really knew and never really cared to know and I love it! It all starts where I dress myself. It starts out with how I am feeling when I wake up in the morning, I put on my outfit and change it ten times until I am happy with it. On a shitty day I am going to wear Alexander Wang sweat pants paired with my girlfriend’s really feminine shirt.
A couple of years ago I would have never wore that strictly out of ‘I am this kind of person and I dress this kinda way.’ I was almost narrow minded and working with my brother, working in fashion and working in this specific area of fashion, that is crazy couture high end women’s to crazy experiential shit with Michael and Tyler. They have all been incredible experiences and memories built on top of each other that start to define to my creativity. I have prints of Tyler’s and Michael’s and my mom has the prints plastered around her house, and I have them all over my house so I get to see them while I am designing and drawing. It brings back all those memories, like the time my girlfriend was a mermaid and we had to kiss underwater for fifteen minutes. I have that print in my bathroom.
Justin Howard – Just using adjectives, how would you describe yourself as a designer?
Nats Getty – I don’t know if “Doesn’t Give A Fuck” is an adjective.
Justin Howard – *Laughter* That is a fucking perfect quote!
Nats Getty – Two would be “Truthful” by that I mean truthful to myself. I would never design, draw or paint anything on a jacket that wasn’t 100% me at the end of the day. Everything I do, I make sure it 100% “Authentic”. By authentic I mean in every kind of aspect. Lastly I would say “Punky”. Punk in every sense of the term. Maybe “Aggressive”.
Justin Howard – I can see that.. Right now if you can to encapsulate your entire design career, what would be the number experience?
Nats Getty – My #1, wow wow wow, experience would be when I was in New York and Raymond Pettibon, who is my all time favorite artist, I somehow ended up at Raymond Pettibon’s studio and I don’t know it happened really except a friend was like ‘I know you really like Raymond Pettibon, I am on the phone with his friend right now do you want to go to his studio?’ I went and I had one of my jackets with me and I ended up there with my girlfriend and another friend. We hung out with Raymond Pettibon for three hours right before our flight back to LA. I was playing baseball inside his studio, and we were trying to hit his prints and paintings on purpose to add character. I had a broken hand, I broke my hand during that trip to New York three days prior. I couldn’t hit the bat with the cast on so I took off my cast and so I was literally playing with a broken hand and he painted on my jacket I had written on. He ended up drawing a mouse, which is what my mom calls me and he had no idea. It is crazy, so I literally had the experience of meeting my favorite artist ever and hanging out with him and having him add to something I already designed. By far the most insane experience ever.