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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Models Off Duty: Vogue Hommes

After a full season of menswear shows I'm happy to be back home in London. All my photos from London, Pitti, Milan and Paris are now live on the Vogue Hommes website, and today a special feature on Models Off Duty has just launched. Check it out on now.

Friday, 26 June 2015

GarconJon meets Tony Thornburg: Model Off Duty

Each season during fashion week there's a model that stands out for me. It me be the shows they booked or simply the clothes they wore when exiting a show but someone usually stands out. In Milan it was Tony Thornberg for me as his style is always impeccible, but more importantly, distinctly his own. I sat down with the softly spoken chap to chat about his hometown of Hawaii and life as a model, only to discover a man wise beyond his 27 years.

Tony Thornburg, model with Elite Milan

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? I grew up in Hawaii in the island of Niʻihau. We lived in the west side in a very quiet neighbourhood and in the last 3 or 4 years I’ve been living in Europe, mainly Zurich, Switzerland.

That’s an unusual base for working the fashion industry. How did you end up there? My girlfriend is Swiss. We met while working in Hong Kong and we happened to be with the same agency. I had already planned that my next trip would be for the shows in Milan so decided let’s give it 3 months and that turned to 6, then a year and I am still there today. We’ll see how much longer I’ll be there.

I’ve never been to Zurich, what do you like about the city? It’s very private and feels like a little escape from the main hustle and bustle of the cities I work in. The city itself is a little cold and the people can be difficult to break through and make friends with but that benefits me as when I want to get away from it all I can just go home and really relax.

I can imagine there’s no greater contrast that Zurich and Hawaii. What do miss most about home? Yes there are huge differences. Of course my family and friends are top of the list. I also miss the most beautiful sunsets in the world. As I grew up in Hawaii I always resented the fact that I was so far away from everything and I had big dreams that couldn’t be achieved while I was there. As I started to travel the world I realised the magic of what it means to be of far away in such a small place in the middle of the pacific ocean. I started to realise how much I took it for granted and have learned to appreciate my own culture.

When you were young what did you want to be as a grown up? I used to play a lot of video games and drew a lot. Animated characters really captivated me. When I was about 12 years old I had no idea of who I wanted to be but before I fell asleep every night I watched television. At around 11pm a show used to come on every night called ‘Fashion Trends’ and it was a loop for hours of shows from Europe. I would watch it until I fell asleep and though to myself “these people going down the catwalk look powerful and successful like the characters in my games. Something really drew me to that and as I got older I became more and more drawn to that. Being Asian I wasn’t so popular when I began modelling but something kept pushing me to pursue that route. It took a while until the industry was ready for me but as I stuck around the industry began to evolve. One season I was in Milan and I got called to the Armani casting and honestly thought how odd it was. My look isn’t typical for the brand but I knew It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I went to the casting and left feeling like it was a waste of time but within a matter of days I got a call saying that Amani wants you to be the face for his brand. I was blown away and I’ll never forget that feeling.

Was that your big break then? Oh yes, most definitely. After that campaign was released things just snowballed. Jobs just consistently kept coming in and it was so lovely as I’d been travelling, saving up, going broke and struggling for nearly 5 years and it felt like everything had come together. As a model nearly all expenses come out of your own pocket until you break through and that was the point I got the understanding of what it is to be a professional in the industry when you finally get to a point when you feel like you’re appreciated. It was a wonderful moment but I made sure to stay humble and remember that it doesn’t make me any better. I’m still just a man and I take that experience as one of the best lessons in my life. I’m so excited to transition into becoming a real man. It’s such a funny thing to look back over my body of work and see how much I’ve grown. I looked so young at the beginning and the years and flown by.

That’s such an interesting path, what advice would you give someone else wanting to become a model? I meet a lot of people who ask me that. Persistence and discipline are probably the two greatest factors to success. There are stories we all hear on television who just got scouted on the street and a few months later ‘Boom’ there they are on a billboard at Times Square. It doesn’t really work like that. A lot of my friends have been in the industry for years, trying and trying until they “make it.” I have one friend who told me recently that he’d been struggling for 7 years with the biggest job he’d ever had in that whole time paid him $500. One day, out of the blue, he booked a massive job with an international brand and his whole life turned around. You have to remember patience is key.

With that patience in mind, how would you describe yourself in 5 words? Take the time to feel. I like to think that modelling is not just about being an image of success, it’s about being a real role model. I want to communicate something more than just clothing that looks good. We’re lacking role models like Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan in todays culture.

Are there any role models you look to? A lot of people may laugh but truly Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was the stereotype of a massive muscle man as an action hero for so many years but when you look at what he’s been able to achieve it’s incredible. He started in a small country far from Hollywood and went on to become a superstar actor, then a successful politician. He’s now a motivational speaker and I love that transition.

On that note, leave us with some words of wisdom. Don’t forget where you came from. You’re never too good for anything. When you have the opportunity to help someone, do it. Helping and sharing give the greatest feeling possible.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Italian in Paris: Rue Balzac, Paris

An Italian blogger photographed on the streets of Paris outside the Valentino show for Vogue Hommes.

Light and Curly: Rue Berryer, Paris

Model off duty outside the Valentino show at Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild during Paris Fashion Week.

Tuxedo Morph: Théâtre du Chatelet, Paris

Photographed for Vogues Hommes outside the shows at Paris Fashion Week.

GarconJon meets Samuel Bietenhader: Model Off Duty

Samuel Bietenhader, model with 3M Models.

When you were a wee boy, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a scientist. With music and art, you're famous but just for your generation. However with science, if you're able to find a cure for AIDs then you'll be a legend for generations to come. It's more rewarding for me. As a scientist you're working for the future which is visionary.

When did that dream change? It ended when I started studying biology but the dream changed earlier even because I wanted to do so many things. Dancing, acting, art, biology, chemistry were all on my horizon. In high school, I wasn't great with discipline and it didn't capture me enough to work 8 hours a day studying the stuff.

I'm guessing disciplined isn't a good word to sum you up. Describe yourself in 5 words. Philosophical, broken sometimes, philanthropist and chaotic. I love the idea of shared love and that we are all ‘one’.

What's your horoscope? I'm the virgin, a Virgo. The papers always tell me something different about my sign. Everyone thinks every generic statement could fit them so I don't pay too much attention, like "be positive and you'll get positivity." It's nothing new.

How did you begin modelling? A few years ago I was living at home in Zurich, sucking on my mum's money and not doing anything productive. It spiralled until I saw an advert on my bank's website looking for "Stuttgart Individuals" to be models for a new campaign. It seemed silly because it's a corporate bank trying to be cool and young. We had to do a catwalk on the seaside in front of a huge group of people which was quite embarrassing. There was a really interesting shoot we did up high on a construction site though. After that project I got into modelling full time.

What's been your highlight so far? You've only been modelling for a year now, right? Yes. My highlight is more like a life lesson though: "don't do modelling". A few months ago I had a kind of a nervous breakdown. It was very difficult for me and made me re-evaluate how I look at life. I really saw things in my head that shocked me. I asked myself 'what will I be doing at 35' wondering if I'll still have energy for all this. You could be doing modelling for 10 years from 20 to 30 and these are the years of highest energy. A lot of models I see are so stuck up in the fame they get but it's all fake and built on nothing. So they have good genes but that's not created through skill or hard work.

Why are you still modelling if you find it so challenging? Well, I do like it a lot when I'm shooting. It's more morally and mentally a problem. I want to go back to study sound design - another strange decision. I thought about going back to biology but I don't think that'll work. With sound design you work a lot electronically, for example making jingles for companies. If you're lucky you'd be creating the sounds for light sabres in Star Wars and become a DJ.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? It's hard to answer that question in your twenties. Six months ago I would have said, finish with studying biology. Now it's changed as I think I've found my soul mate. She's a super nice girl and we have a unified mind. Not in the typical Hollywood love way, we recognise our differences and flourish with them. In a decade I would see myself having a job which would allow me to have a family with this woman. I guess romantic would have to be added to one of my 5 words.

That's a positive note to end on! Leave us with some words on wisdom. Nice, I like that question and it's also the hardest as life keeps fucking you over. I tend to have a 'go with the flow' mentality. My life lesson would be "when you see a person you don't like, imagine him being your lover". I have a philosophical mind telling me to "tell him this or that, something deep" but at one point you go down so deep that it's too dark to come back out. I guess my other lesson would be not to philosophise too hardcore in life.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Ouigi Theodore: Via Savona, Milan

Ouigi Theodore, founder of menswear mecca Brooklyn Circus, photographed outside the menswear shows in Milan. See the detail shot below.

Black Brows: Via Valtellina, Milan

Model off duty photographed outside the Gucci show in Milan.

Striped Smiler: Via Valtellina, Milan

Two men, two smiles, two striped suits. Photographed outside the Gucci show in Milan.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

GarconJon meets Richard Biedul: Model Off Duty

If there's one word to describe Mr Richard Biedul, for me it'd be 'engaging'. That manifests itself in his conversation, in his eye contact and of course the imagery he creates as a model. I've known Richard for a few years now but only just had the chance to sit down with him in Milan, the day before he walked in the Canali show. His energy is infectous and his story is intriguing as he tells me about his transition from law to fashion.

Richard Biedul, model with Elite London

What did you want to be when you were a wee boy? My mum actually has a picture I drew when I was 3 years old and it reads “When I grow up, I want to be a rocket car driver!” I don’t quite know what that is but that’s what I wanted to be. My memory of that time is a blur now but I do recall the feeling of wanting to drive a car so fast it can go into space.

That seems a long way from where you ended up. Between wanting to go to space and becoming a model you were a lawyer, right? Yes. I went through school without really an interest in education. I was a boy who misbehaved a lot. Somehow I managed to come out of school with good GCSEs, then good A Levels and when it came to selecting a university I just followed my friends. I chose to study law and left university with a good degree. I remember my mum saying to me “You’ve come this far now, you may as well follow it through.” I went to law school in London after that and graduated with distinction so a job offer fell into my lap really. My mum was a lawyer so the template was already laid out for me. My dad’s a mechanic and I was no good with my hands so the law route seemed more feasible.

That’s very impressive. You must be quite an overachiever if it was law that fell into your lap! What skills do you think you naturally have which meant you excelled with ease? I have great communication skills. No matter how rich or poor, working class or upper class, I feel I can build a rapport with anyone. That’s how I excelled within the world of law, but to actually get to the job? I don’t know how I managed that one. Better luck than judgement, I suppose.

Where did you grow up? I spent my childhood in north-west London in a suburb called Pinner which is quite near Harrow. It was safe, green and my parents worked as hard as they could to give me and my brothers as much freedom as we wanted. I go back as much as I can, probably about twice a month with my girlfriend.

Where do you live now? For a long time home was Broadway Market in East London. Then I moved to New York for work and when I returned I spent 6 months hunting for houses. We finally found the perfect place in January at Borough Market, London Bridge.

What are the main differences between New York and London for you? In London I have a fantastic network of friends and family that act as my safety net. I really value that. In the Big Apple I felt like I was out there on my own, fending for myself. There’s only so many deli sandwiches you can have before you think “I need to come home for mum’s dinner!” New York was an amazing time in my life but I’m glad to be back in Europe. The work in London, Milan and Paris is so regular it makes sense to be here. Europe will always be the epicentre of fashion for me so it’s where I need to be.

What’s the best thing about being a model? The free time is incredible. I like to read books but I also have a bad habit for watching too much television. I don’t have the drive to go to the gym too regularly and luckily my look is more about my personality and characteristics than physique.

Are your parents model-esque? I’ve got an amazing picture of them from when they were 19 in Amsterdam on holiday together. Both of them look like they’ve pulled out of East London today. Dad had a huge beard and mum wore a pink bomber jacket. They were such a cool couple. They’re still beautiful today – both inside and out.

Tell me the best job you’ve had as a model so far. I’ve got a fantastic client, La Perla, and I was the first male ambassador for the brand. That’s given me the opportunity to shoot with some of the biggest supermodels in the world like Lu Len, Natasha Poly, Naomi Campbell, Ming Xi and Isa Goula. For anyone who knows those girls will know how humbling that experience is.

Do you find that kind of situation intimidating? Not intimidating but I was certainly in awe of who they are and what they’ve done. The only selfie I’ve ever done was with Ming Xi because she’s one of the coolest kids around and I just had to get a picture taken with her. I was scared to death of Naomi Campbell.

Have you always been naturally confident? When I was a kid I was really small and the doctor wanted to give me growth hormone until the age of around 12. My parents ethos was to let me be who I am so it never happened and this instilled a feeling of inner peace. Being happy with how I am. With that said, because I was the littlest in class I was also the quietest but I quickly grew into myself and became the person I am today.

That’s an optimistic note to leave on. Finally, leave us with some words of wisdom. Be nice to everyone because what goes around comes around.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Angelo Gallamini: Pitti Uomo, Florence

I photographed the mighty Angelo Gallamini for the 100 Beards project in 2013, see that image here:

Phil Green: Pitti Uomo, Florence

Mr Phil Green, the VIP Personal Shopper at Far Fetch and all round handsome Scotsman.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Luca Lanzoni: Pitti Uomo, Florence

The schedule over men's fashion been is so jam-packed it's quite difficult to keep posts up to date on the blog. The best way to follow my travels is to use Instagram @GarconJon or got to where a selection of street style is posted.

Monday, 15 June 2015

GaconJon meets Joshua Jeremiah Bartley: Model Off Duty

Joshua Jeremiah Bartley, model with Unsigned Management

How were you discovered? It was about a year and a half ago now. I'd broken up with my girlfriend and so to cheer me up my mates look me to Manchester to go clubbing. Nottingham is where I'm from and you see everyone you know as it's so small so we wanted to proper night out in a big city. I was walking down the street and a scout came walking up to me shouting "you're beautiful!" At first I thought it was a scam to make a quick buck but after my first test shoot I realised it was for real.

Do you remember the first proper shoot? The first job I got was walking for Homme. It was quite scary but also gave me a taste for it. I wanted to do the next job right after it gave me such a buzz.

What do you think you've learned from then to now? I was very nervous at first but since I've opened shows and shot campaigns I've calmed down. People have told me since that I actually have a skill and a good look for modelling. That gives me the confidence to move forward. I think it's generally learning that there's no point being shy.

What's been your best job so far? Without a doubt the Tommy Hilfiger campaign in San Francisco. The location was amazing. We had a swimming pool on set and I was the only one to jump in at the end of the day. I couldn't resist. I just thought "I have to do this. I have to swim. There's only one shot at this. It's worth a try." It was a three day shoot and overall we were there for eight days so I have extra time to enjoy the location. There were about thirteen models on set so a big shoot. At the same time I shot his underwear campaign with Jourdan Dunn, that was pretty special.

What do your mates think of all this? They used to take the piss so much but then they saw the number of beautiful girls I was surrounded by. This industry has made me realise you just have to live your life your own way.

When you were a wee boy what did you want to be when you grew up? I actually wanted to be a doctor. Growing up I lived with only my mum as my dad was in jail for much for the time. I've got an older brother and he really set the pace for the family. He was the man to aspire to be like. He went to university and his now high up in a big company so there's a pressure to live up to his standards. I went to college to sit my A Levels and then got scouted. Here I am today at 21.

Do you have a fitness routine? I find it hard to put on weight so I tend to not watch my weight or diet. I go swimming, skipping and boxing training when I'm back home. I swim 5 days a week and avoid weight lifting as I get wide quickly. It's good to do cardio to keep trim. The sense of relief after training means eating a burger afterwards makes you feel less guilty.

How would you describe yourself? Outrageous. I'm very shy at times. I'm caring, I believe in good karma coming back around. I'm also tired most of the time.

What's next for you? I want to walk for Burberry. It didn't work for this season but one day it's going to happen.

Leave us with some words of wisdom. Live life to the fullest. You have to go out and get what you want. You can be anything you want to be in life. If you practice football a lot of a child there's no reason why you can't go professional. You just have to stick your head in it fulling and focus on the goal.

Supported by New Look Men.