Ukrainian models in The Guardian
Ukranian model Danyl K thinks he looks like “a pig”. Maksym, another model from Kiev, describes himself as “alien-like”, while, the day before, his almost namesake Maksym P was scouted in a crowd, having just shaved off his hair. And yet these models are three of the biggest emerging faces on the catwalk and a sign that unconventional “alt-beauty” is the latest trend in men’s fashion.
For these models, symmetry is not a requisite. A slightly sallow pallor is ideal, wonky oversized features are also fine; the bigger the nose, the ears and the lips – the better. Modelling trends, like fashion, vacillate wildly – and the physical nuances often reflect the mood of the industry. In the 90s, the industry big guns (Armani, Versace) reigned, as did the Supers – instantly recognisable, conventionally beautiful models such as Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss were muses, and as famous as the clothes they modelled. There was the male equivalent, too, with Swede beefcakes such as Alex Lundqvist and Marcus Schenkenberg dominating. Dishearteningly, bar Tyson Beckford, almost all of the big names in male modelling have been white, a trend that continued into the 00s. They have also tended towards the pretty and slight, or hyper-conventional, like David Gandy. Aided by social media, this It generation, paved the way for a new era of Insta-models this decade, with names such as Gigi Hadid and Lucky Blue Smith cultivating as large a presence online as on the catwalk. But while their rise through unconventional channels has possibly helped enable a more diverse aesthetic, few would have predicted the alt-model to be this season’s look. Or that they would overwhelmingly come from former Soviet states.
The trend was arguably propelled by Eva Gödel, who runs the German agency Tomorrow Is Another Day. She has described the boys she scouts as “guys who may not consider themselves good-looking enough to apply”. She prefers to focus on “the way people move, how they dress and do their hair, how emotion crosses their faces”. Gödel discovered Paul Hameline, now Vetements muse, standing at an ATM in Le Marais, Paris. Like most alt-models, he was reluctant (most are baffled at being scouted, although this was the fourth time Hameline had been approached), but he has since walked for labels including Kenzo and Hood By Air. Another model signed to Gödel’s agency is Berliner Steve Morell, who recently walked the Balenciaga show. “I have a characteristic face, cheekbones, big eyes,” he says. “It’s like an elegant, bizarre, 80s character.”