Posted by Jonathan Shia | January 29th, 2019

Future Faces

Fashion is nothing if not fickle. Every season brings a crop of bright new faces—while just as many disappear from view. But some, through luck, charm, and perseverance, manage to endure, going on to successful careers most of them never could have imagined beforehand. For the last five years, we’ve rounded up the top new runway guys during Paris Fashion Week every summer to offer a look at where the industry is headed in a series called Future Faces. Many of our previous picks are now Top 50 staples, including Rhys Pickering, Sang Woo Kim, Finnlay Davis, Alpha Dia, Serge Rigvava, Benno Bulang, and Oscar Kindelan. A few newer selections—Christopher Einla, Anton Jaeger, Oliver Houlby, and Willow Barrett—sit comfortably on our Hot List.

This year’s fifth-anniversary group is, in a reflection of a welcome recent change throughout modeling at large, more diverse than ever. Photographed by Paolo Zerbini and styled by Xenia May Settel, these fifteen represent the increasingly iconoclastic face of the industry, putting emphasis on the individual spirit and rejecting the uniformity of old. Fashion changes and fashions change, but all of these models serve as a reminder that from here, the future looks bright.

Featured models:

Photography by Paolo Zerbini (Atomo Management)
Styling by Xenia May Settel
Grooming by Chiao Chenet
Text and casting by Jonathan Shia
Photography assistant: Louise Reinke
Grooming assistants: Violaine Jaumet and Jennifer Le Corre
Printing by Daren Catlin

Jakob Zimny, Frankfurt, Germany

Still a full-time high school student, Zimny has made impressive use of his limited time off in the past year, making his runway début as a Prada exclusive last January before going on to open Kim Jones’ final Louis Vuitton show the following week. “It was just stunning,” he recalls. “I was the first one standing there and Kim Jones was crying and thanking me for everything even though he didn’t know me and then Kate Moss was taking pictures of me. It was a great experience.” After that auspicious start, the German teen walked for Hermès, Alexander McQueen, and Dries Van Noten before refocusing on his studies until last summer, when he added Jones’ first Dior Homme show and Balmain to his CV. Earlier this month, Virgil Abloh joined the growing fan club, casting him for both Off-White and Louis Vuitton. A soccer player who switched to football three years ago, Zimny says his opinion of fashion—formerly shaped entirely by his “Hypebeast” friends—has changed since he started working in the industry. “I learned that it’s not just clothes,” he explains. “There’s so much more behind it, so I’m very proud to do this and wear these clothes.” He is looking forward to graduating so that he can focus on modeling, having had to cancel on a number of jobs over the past few months because of his classes, and hopes to eventually study physical education or psychology at a college in America. “I just love the country,” he says. “You hear a lot of bad stuff but I feel confident being there. I can identify myself with the country and the people. I’ve met a lot of people from there and I’ve been there a bunch of times. I just feel like I fit in.”

Jacket, sweater, and pants – Lanvin. Bag – Vivienne Westwood. Scarf – Mad Vintage.

Kaissan Ibrahima, Toulon, France

A native of the French Riviera now living in Paris, Ibrahima was scouted while skateboarding in the Place de la République and quickly became a Prada favorite, opening the brand’s Fall 2017 show before appearing in a run of campaigns by Willy Vanderperre. “I didn’t really know how it happened,” he recalls of his début turn opening Prada. “I just got dressed and we got put in line and I was first in line but at first I felt weird like, ‘I’m not going to be first,’ and then when I realized, I started to stress, stress, stress, stress, stress more and more and then the stylist told me, ‘Miuccia Prada chose you so it’s going to be ok.’ Then I stressed more but then ten seconds later it was ok.” He’s walked for Prada three more times since then, as well as Hermès, Valentino, Fendi, Kenzo, and Stella McCartney, and names a shoot for WSJ. Magazine as his favorite to date. “I was in a Gucci outfit and I looked like a gangster,” he laughs. Ibrahima quit studying art history at university last year to focus on modeling and his own personal projects, which include drawing and a clothing line named Désir. “I try to be curious and interested in everything and create stuff,” he explains. “It can be anything. I just try to open my mind and skate hard.”

Serge Sergeev, Riga, Latvia

One of last year’s top runway stars, Sergeev’s career kicked off with a very unfortunate occurrence. Booked for a Prada exclusive in June 2017, he fainted backstage and was unable to walk. It’s a testament to his appeal then that he still opened Louis Vuitton the following week and Boss the next month, also taking a turn at Dior Homme, Burberry, and Valentino in that first season. Now a veteran with dozens of shows under his belt, Sergeev says he’s learned to control his nerves, after worrying backstage at his début at Valentino that he might faint on the runway. “I was really nervous, but now I think every show has that same feeling,” he admits. “Now I’m fine.” With his increasingly busy career, including a Y-3 campaign and a shoot with Serge Leblon for H Magazine last year, the Latvian has resorted to taking classes online, naming psychology as one of his top interests. A basketball player, boxer, and runner, Sergeev says that his new job is his focus for now, but his first love continues to be snooker, in which he has competed since the age of seven thanks to his father, a professional coach who travels Europe to train other players. His packed schedule has forced him to prioritize and make sacrifices, he admits. “I did snooker really seriously, so now modeling and snooker are the two most important things for me,” he laughs, “and school is somewhere behind.”

Top – Atlein. Pants – Givenchy. Belt – Vivienne Westwood.

Kohei Takabatake, Tokyo, Japan

By our count, Takabatake walked an astounding 83 shows last year after a stellar start in 2017 on the runway for Prada, Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, Valentino, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Coach, Dries Van Noten, and Berluti. The campaigns came early as well, with Jamie Hawkesworth lensing him for Uniqlo in his first season, during which he also appeared in ads for Hermès, demonstrating early on his appeal to both ends of the market. The Tokyo native was discovered by a stylist while walking through his hometown’s famously crowded Shibuya Crossing in 2016 and modestly admits that his stratospheric success has been a complete surprise to him. “When I first came overseas, I tried to find an agency in Paris and the only agency that would sign me was Bananas,” he recalls. “They’re big and have famous guys so I signed with them and when I went to Paris [in 2017] I was so nervous. I hoped I could get one show and I would’ve been super happy, but in the end, it was crazy.” Now taking a break from his economics studies, Takabatake appeared in campaigns for Prada, Calvin Klein, Dior Homme, and Coach last year, shot by top photographers like Willy Vanderperre, Steven Meisel, Lachlan Bailey, and Paolo Roversi in one of the quickest ascents in recent memory. Working with such illustrious creators has helped the Hot Lister appreciate the industry from a new perspective, as more than just clothes and commerce. “When you work for Prada or Calvin Klein, the teams are great and the people are so nice,” he says. “Everything is perfect. They really want to show off their art.”

Top: Pants – Dior Homme. Belt – model’s own. Bottom: Jacket – Vivienne Westwood. Shirt, pants, sneakers, and bag – model’s own.

Kristers Krumins, Riga, Latvia

For many models, the whirl of fashion week can seem worlds away from their daily lives, and things are no different for Krumins, who continues to work in construction when he isn’t walking for Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Valentino, Off-White, and Raf Simons or, as he did earlier this month, closing Kris Van Assche’s inaugural Berluti show alongside none other than Adut Akech. “The Berluti show was beyond everything,” he recalls, “starting with the suit I was wearing. The Palais Garnier was something incredibly special, I can’t even describe it or put it into words. I just feel very special that I had the opportunity to be in that place at that time.” Krumins was introduced to his agency last year by a childhood friend who was already signed as a model and soon found himself backstage ready to make his début at Valentino. “It was a fantastic experience,” he recalls, “although I wasn’t quite ready for it, so it was more about keeping my confidence at the highest level.” With two children at home, he admits his ability to travel for work is somewhat limited as his family is his priority at the moment, although he did find time to shoot with Willy Vanderperre for Document Journal and Tyler Kohlhoff for Sedition last year. But Krumins insists that he is ready to devote himself to modeling as much as he can, hoping to use it as the platform for a future business of his own and an opportunity for personal growth. “I love to connect with people,” he says, “and develop my personality no matter which aspect of it you look at.”

Callum Stoddart, London, United Kingdom

Since his début at Topman in January 2017, Stoddart has quickly become a runway staple, coming in second on our list of the most shows walked last year—and he’s tied for first so far this season. Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Boss, Valentino, Coach, Dior Homme, Michael Kors, Bottega Veneta, Tommy Hilfiger, and Craig Green are among the many labels that have cast him for their shows since, but he admits to having been a complete neophyte just two years ago. “It was absolutely crazy,” he recalls about his first Topman show. “I had no idea what was going on. I remember asking my booker if my picture was going to be on the internet.” With campaigns for Dior Homme, Etro, and Neil Barrett last year as well as shoots for Dazed, Vogue Hommes, and L’Officiel Hommes, Stoddart has had to devote himself entirely to his new career, even if it came at the expense of his studies at London’s famous BRIT School, which counts Adele, King Krule, Amy Winehouse, and Tom Holland amongst its alumni. “I play saxophone, clarinet, and piano and I sing as well so I was just doing that and then towards the last six months of school, I didn’t really go in,” he recalls. “I was doing fashion weeks and work and they started to hate me.” His goal is to find a way to integrate his modeling and his music, which he describes as hip hop but with his own unique instrumentation with clarinet and saxophone, all performed by himself. “I want to make it my own thing,” he emphasizes. “I don’t want it to be the same as everything else that you hear. I produce it all myself and I’m going to record everything myself from now on.”

Shirt – stylist’s own. Pants and belt – Vivienne Westwood.

Rubens Guez, Avignon, France

It’s been a little over a year since Guez took his first turn on the runway, opening Valentino’s Fall 2018 show in a sweeping black coat and heavy eyeliner, and his career has been on rapid ascent ever since. “I couldn’t wait to walk the show,” he recalls. “I was so thrilled!” An alum of the French Elite Model Look competition, Guez has also walked for Dior Homme, Givenchy, Boss, Dries Van Noten, Lacoste, Zegna, and Tommy Hilfiger over the past three seasons, demonstrating striking range. Saint Laurent’s Anthony Vaccarello has also been a longtime supporter, handing him the closing spot at the show last June and locking him in for his latest campaign, shot by David Sims. A former student of design who had plans of becoming a designer or a stylist, he is taking full advantage of his intimate access to the industry. “Being a model means having the chance to be inside the core of the fashion business,” he explains, “living the everyday life of a couture or prêt-à-porter house and meeting fascinating professionals.” In the meantime, he continues to pursue his artistic exploits in any direction they may lead him. “I think about photography, design, styling,” he says, “and, on another note, having a flower shop!”

Poncho – Vivienne Westwood. Jeans – model’s own.

Malick Bodian, Dakar, Senegal

Born and raised in Senegal and then Italy, Bodian had his early breakout thanks to the casting director Piotr Chamier, who ran into him one night at two AM on his way home from the bar where he was working in Nice at the time. “He saw me on the street and said, ‘Can I take some pictures of you for a magazine?’ and I said, ‘No, sorry, I’m tired!’’ Bodian recalls. “I was like, ‘What, I can’t be a model!’” He eventually relented, ending up in a shoot by Jack Davison for Double Magazine in Fall 2017. A few months later in early 2018, he was making his runway début at Valentino, following up with Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Givenchy, and Berluti in his first season. A student of English and Italian who hopes to become a translator in the future, Bodian landed on our Hot List last year thanks to the strength of his editorials for Vogue Hommes by Paolo Roversi, British Vogue by Campbell Addy, and L’Uomo Vogue by Julia Hetta and his recent campaigns by Steven Meisel for Versace and Dior Homme. Under Kim Jones, Dior has been a strong supporter of Bodian’s, booking him for all three shows in a row, and the young model returns the love. “When I’m in Dior clothes or McQueen or Dunhill, I feel like a gentleman,” he says. “You really feel the clothes on yourself and I prefer that.”

Efraim Schroder, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Schroder spent over two years modeling in his native Brazil before being snapped up by Miuccia Prada as an exclusive for her Spring 2018 show and has walked in every show for the label since, a remarkable track record at one of the industry’s most exclusive houses. “After the catwalk, I was waiting for the finale and I had to hold in the tears,” he recalls about his first turn for the label, which came as the culmination of three exhausting weeks doing looks at the Milan headquarters. Having been discovered by a photographer who was also a high school friend of his mother’s, Schroder needed some persuading before he agreed to give modeling a try. “My mom tried to convince me and I said no twice and then the third time I accepted,” he says. “He did some Polaroids and then sent them to my agency in Sao Paulo and that’s it.” He had been working with his father until he began modeling full time, silk screening uniforms for the family’s clothing store. With his film and paralegal classes now complete, he spent last year focusing on his rising career, walking for Burberry, Valentino, Fendi, and Boss and shooting for Zara and The Greatest. In his free time, he continues to pursue a number of creative paths. “I consider myself a really artistic person,” he explains. “I do photography, I do painting, I do a lot of stuff. I’m always curious to learn something.”

Shirt – Atlein. Pants – Dior Homme. Vintage vest and belt – Sanaw.

Jeenu Mahadevan, Oslo, Norway

As a Norwegian of Sri Lankan descent, Hot Lister Mahadevan is one of the brightest lights in the new crop of rising Southeast Asian models. Discovered on the bus in Oslo by a designer who then got his mother agent’s attention with an Instagram post, Mahadevan took his memorable first turn on the runway back in June 2017, closing GmbH in Paris. “I was freaking out, I was so scared,” he laughs. “It was a really cool location, like the 20th floor of a skyscraper.” He’s walked for everyone from Ferragamo and Loewe to Boss and Givenchy since then, naming his three Alexander McQueen shows as his favorites. Now taking time off before starting school for computer engineering, Mahadevan had a packed 2018, working with Tim Walker for British Vogue, Paolo Roversi for L’Uomo Vogue, Ethan James Green for Vogue Hommes, and Kristin-Lee Moolman for Allure. The advertising clients have been calling as well, from Adidas and H&M to Fendi and Benetton. Calling himself “completely clueless” about the industry before he started, his rapid success has taught him that, despite its reputation, fashion is a job just like any other. “It’s almost easier than I thought,” he admits. “You always make it out to be way bigger than it really is.”

Theo Ford, New York, United States

New York City is likely home to the largest concentration of models in the world, which makes it somewhat of a surprise that a native New Yorker was discovered in New Orleans. A student at Tulane, Ford was approached in his college’s food court by a scout early last year and eventually signed when he returned home. “It was posed to me as a good opportunity to see the world and travel Europe, which I had wanted to do,” he explains. “A lot of my friends studied abroad, but I chose not to do that and I kind of regretted it so I really wanted to do some traveling.” His decision paid off this past summer, which he spent on the circuit through London, Milan, and Paris opening Craig Green and walking for Prada, Valentino, Raf Simons, Loewe, and Hermès in his first season. He credits these new experiences with expanding his understanding and appreciation of the fashion industry, which he admits were negligible beforehand. “When I did Prada, I got to talk to Miuccia Prada for a while, which was really cool,” he recalls. “It was cool meeting all the designers and other people at the top of their industry and getting a glimpse at their genius.” Now finishing his final year, Ford is majoring in finance and English, bridging his passions for entrepreneurship—he launched a coffee delivery service in New Orleans a few years ago—and creative writing, including comedy and screenplays. His time in the industry has also, he admits, increased his admiration for personal expression. “It’s been cool going to castings and seeing all the different models’ unique styles and the ways they choose to represent themselves,” he says. “It’s cool how there’s no judgment in anyone’s style. You obviously see people wearing crazy stuff but it’s cool to see people express themselves without having to worry about being judged.”

Jacket and bag – Mad Vintage.

Daniel Morel, Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

It may seem like it only took six short months from Morel’s début at Versace last June to his new Ferragamo campaign for Spring by Harley Weir, but his career has been years in the making. Three years ago, when he was just 16, his godfather’s partner saw potential in him, but his mother insisted on waiting until he turned 18. After an early shoot, he was signed by the agency Ossygeno in Santo Domingo and several months later began to consider the possibility of traveling abroad. He eventually signed in Milan and soon found himself walking the runway for Prada, Dior Homme, Givenchy, Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and Hermès. “I had two looks that I loved and everything was great,” he recalls about his first Versace show. “I made a lot of friends there too.” Morel’s astounding ascent has been, he admits, a happy surprise, but he is aware that his job also requires a lot of hard work. “Everyone makes it out like it’s all roses, like everything is easy, and it’s not,” he explains. “You always have to give 100% and have patience and ability and dedicate the time and love it. If you don’t love it, you won’t be successful.”

Camiel van Wersch, Arnhem, Netherlands

In his two short years in the industry, van Wersch has already notched a number of career milestones most other models can only imagine. He was an exclusive for Calvin Klein, opened Y-3, closed Raf Simons, and has walked for a number of top brands including Prada, Louis Vuitton, Dior Homme, Burberry, Craig Green, Jil Sander, and Coach. Among all these runways, he names last summer’s Gucci Cruise show, set in a verdant Roman burial ground outside the southern French city of Arles, as a particular favorite. But it all nearly never happened: The first time van Wersch was scouted, he sent his pictures into the agency and didn’t hear back, so he moved on. It was only a few months later when his agent saw him on the street again that they moved to sign the contract the next day. “It actually went really fast,” he laughs. Just weeks later, he was making his début at Sacai’s Fall 2017 show. He has taken time off from his studies—he plans to teach history in the future—to dedicate himself to modeling for now, logging shoots for Man About Town, The Greatest, and Fashion For Men and two campaigns last year for Dior Homme and Ports 1961, which took him to Marrakech. Having known little about the industry before he started, he says he is grateful for the educational opportunity his new job has provided him. “The most interesting thing is meeting so many people with so many different visions and stories,” he explains. “You learn a lot from it even though you’re not at school. You learn a lot from people all around the world.”

Sakua Kambong, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Kambong was working as a car mechanic in 2017 when a friend mentioned a model search and suggested he enter. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not going to this,’” he laughs. “Then my appointment fell through and I was like, ‘Eh, I got nothing better to do,’ so I went in and then I got scouted.” A few months later, he was backstage at Hussein Chalayan in London about to take his first turn on the catwalk. Unlike many other newcomers, Kambong says he wasn’t nervous as he stood in line. “A friend of mine said, ‘It’s just walking,’” he recalls, “and I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s just walking, what can go wrong?’” Since then, he’s walked for Calvin Klein, Versace, Boss, and Bottega Veneta, and has been a special favorite of Kim Jones’, who cast him in Louis Vuitton’s Spring 2018 campaign by Steven Meisel and brought him over to Dior Homme when he became creative director there last year. “My favorite show was when I became friends with the designer,” Kambong says. “The second time I walked for Louis Vuitton, I was exclusive and then you can really see the build-up of the collection and the clothes. You’re there when everything is getting made and you can really see the development of the clothes. I could see every piece getting its own character.” Kambong admits to dreams of becoming an actor, but for now says he is just fine taking his time with modeling. “I came into this world without expectations,” he explains. “I live my life and let it come and see how it rolls and I’m enjoying it.”

Shirt – Mad Vintage. Pants and belt – Vivienne Westwood. Shoes – Dior Homme.

Tony Harak, Tartu, Estonia

The second time was a charm for Harak, who was first scouted at school years ago but was “too lazy” to go into the agency, he says. When his agent reached out again after starting his own agency, he decided to go for it. “I came home and my mom didn’t know that somebody wanted to scout me to be a model,” he laughs. “I went, ‘Mom, I’m going to be a model,’ and that was very funny because she didn’t know and she was in shock.” His first show was an exclusive for Prada in June 2017 and he went on to walk for Louis Vuitton, Dior Homme, and Valentino that season. “I walked very fast,” he recalls about his début. “I was nervous about how I would walk and if the people would like me and the clothes.” After turns for Burberry, Craig Green, Boss, Off-White, and Rick Owens since then, Harak has gotten more comfortable on the runway and has begun to make an editorial mark with shoots by Willy Vanderperre, Mel Bles for Another Man, and Suffo Moncloa for Arena Homme+. He appreciates his new career so much, in fact, that he says he wants to continue in the industry no matter what. “If I’m not going to be a model, I would go to a model agency to be a scout or a manager,” he says, “or go into high fashion and make my own clothes.”

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2 Comments to “Future Faces: Fifteen male models defining the runway”

  1. Nishant saini says:

    I want to join a modeling

  2. Anna says:

    Check her out. The Hour has come…