Think male models and think six foot plus, hunks in trunks with more beef than a butcher’s window. But think again. Now it’s soft sensitive, and seductive. Jean Sutherland looks into the invasion of the pretty boys.
Big shifts are afoot in the modeling world and it’s not the invasion of the Brazilians. Far from it. Following hot on the heels of the Amazonian girls are the beautiful and rather beguiling pretty boys.
It’s a role reversal. While the girls leave behind the waif look for curves and statuesque bodies the guys are leaving behind the brawn for pouting mouths and dewy eyes.
Sounds a bit fey? Well it’s more Rudolph Nureyev à la 1970 than David Bowie meets Ziggy Stardust. Its a definite inching towards a feminine feel. And it is a look especially indicative of Eastern European guys, with the Slavic, slightly romantic, aristocratic features characterized by the high cheekbones and full mouths.
‘We’ve always liked this look,’ says Barbara Fisher, director of Goodfellas. ‘One guy just came in from the states, Donny Lewis and he’s gone off on a trip with Wallpaper magazine.’ Others on their books that epitomize the look include Vanja, from Holland who has just done the Barbour advertising campaign and Artjom who is fresh from Russia and causing a lot of interest. Fisher emphasizes ’There is definitely mileage in the look.”
Edward Mitchell, Partner at Bookings agency agrees. ‘ It’s the trend of the moment,’ he says. One of the fashionable faces at Bookings is Richard Houghton who has appeared for Gap with his blonde disheveled hair and soft features. “If you look,” continues Mitchell, “almost every major ad campaign is featuring beautiful boys. Even the companies who usually use quite traditional looking men are venturing towards the younger and more beautiful.”
So why now for the fresh, young pretty things? Mark Evans, Senior Model Agent at Models 1 has a theory that Hollywood has a definite part to play in all of it, “Very often designers, stylists and advertising creatives will look at the current crop of hit films to glean a wealth of ideas for style direction. This year’s inspiration seems to be coming from the film the Talented Mr Ripley with numerous requests for models with a bit of Jude Law and Matt Damon about them. Also to a lesser extent there are requests for the cast of the Beach.
One of the hottest male models of the last decade is Julien Hedquist. At Models 1. He has appeared in campaigns this season for Donna Karan, Hugo Boss and Moschino with editorial for Arena Homme Plus, L’Uomo Vogue and Amica. He appeared in the Hugo campaign with Jiri, another of the up and coming models this season.
German born Jiri is also the face of the D & G campaign and has appeared on the cover of Wallpaper twice in the past year. His Aryan good looks proved a big hit with the designers during the collections and he did almost 30 shows in January.
One pretty boy – and at 15 he’s exactly that is Bill at Storm, who is creating quite a storm. Looking like a walking cherub he is juggling his time between high profile ad campaigns and school. Cat Trather, Senior mens booker at Storm verifies his look, “he’s got pale skin, pale eyes and blonde curly hair, he’s incredibly angelic. Already he’s done top editorial and he’s currently shooting the new Burberrry campaign with Mario Testino.” And she acknowledges that there is a definite move towards softening up the image. Case in point is James Heathcote at Storm. His razor short crop which was seen in the Gucci campaign has now grown out and his recent Gap advertisement sees him sporting an altogether prettier look.
Over at Take 2 pretty boys take over and Director Melissa Richardson feels that it is all part of the current factor X. The look is soft but there is strength and obviously it is particularly good for the younger models. How young is young? Especially when guys are still spotty and gangly until at least seventeen. Well it seems seventeen is a fine age indeed if you are called Sebastian and are at Take 2. Still a fledgling this guy has clocked up campaigns for Stussy and Dries Van Noten and while trying to keep pace with the demand he’s still keeping up with his A levels. Also at Take 2 is Matthew Avedon – yes he is related- he’s the grandson of legendary photographer Richard Avedon. He has featured in the YSL ad campaign and looks set for much more.
So if you are mourning the loss of six packs and pecks then prepare to be disappointed because there is still plenty of prettiness to go around.
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