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Friday, 8 July 2016

GarconJon meets Victor Ndigwe: Model Off Duty

Discovered in the Elite Model Look competition in Nigeria, in the past few years Victor Ndigwe has worked with some of the most notable designers in menswear. Walking for Hardy Amies, Balmain and Versace this season, I caught up with him after the Dries Van Noten show in Paris to talk about his life as a model, writing hip hop at home in Africa and his words of wisdom.

This is part of a series of interviews with Elite Model boys, with Part 2 of this interview over at See my photographs with French model Hugo Villanova here and new British face Alistair Waterfield here.

Where did you grow up? I grew up in Nigeria In Lagos, precisely. There is the island and there is the mainland which is where I stayed. I moved house once. I lived with my parents now it's a thirty minute drive from where we were before. After I won the call from Elite modelling, people started to approach me too much there so my mum said I couldn’t stay here anymore. I attract too much attention.

Where do you live now? I still live in Nigeria. I love it there, it is my home. If I want to continue in fashion I should leave there soon. It is very hard and expensive for me to be flying there and back. But yeah, I still live in Nigeria.

We first met in my home town London, what strikes you most about the city? I like the vibe of the city. Everyone is always moving, everyone is always willing to help. You see different people and different faces, the Africans, the black Americans, the Asian people, the Indian people. I love this kind of thing where you walk down the street and see people. It is a fashion city. My favourite clubs are here, too. Basically everything, I love it here to be honest. It is really expensive but I really love it.

If you had to describe yourself in five words, what would you say? Victor is unpredictable, Victor is fun, Victor is… I mean Victor is Victor. I don’t know what to describe myself as. I don’t think I know myself to this extent. I just know I love the company of good people. I love having fun, I love music, sports, art and being creative. Maybe dapper? I keep wanting to buy the clothes. Very very spontaneous! And maybe I am naughty.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I should be established in whatever I am doing. I could still be modelling then. Not like modelling in the way that I am now. I mean I don’t plan to be a model for too long. I just think in ten years I should be able to feed myself and my family. I hope that in ten years from now I will be a good man with a wife and kids.

What is your calling in life? I’ve been doing music since I was in high school with all my friends. We would just hit the table and make the beats. Just like rapping, singing. Back then I wouldn’t say I could write anything, I just wanted to hear the beat. I could hum to what I had in my head. I tried to write the first year and the second year but I wasn’t really getting anything out of it. But I just kept on doing. The first time I was in a studio, he chased me out. The first three times. He is my friend now though. He could have just taken my money but he wanted to help me. Now I can write, I would say I can write comfortably. Maybe write parts and a chorus. Pop, Hip Hop. I could write R’n’B songs. I don’t like them very well but I can write them. Pretty much as long as I know the beat and hear it, I just put myself into it and it works for me.

Back in school I was captain of the basketball team. Four years ago after I lost a basketball competition in which my team was cheated, I told myself I am not going back there. It was frustrating. We put all our effort and money in, not getting support from the school and we clearly won. In the last minute it was 98:99, we had the point and they gave a foul to the other team. It was completely out of the blue and they scored. It was really devastating. Since then I haven’t played basketball.

What has been experience you've had at fashion week? The best moment during fashion week was the last two seasons. Season after season it just got better. Dolce, Versace, I mean doing these shows! Basically, in my life I never thought I could be a model, it's just one of the best things. Being able to travel, meet people. I am really grateful for it. I put in a lot of effort, trying to get things right and when these shows come, I am very emotional about it. I don’t tend to show it but I am like really happy. It makes me want to cry. This is one of the best moments. When got a campaign from Missioni, I never believed that one day I would be doing all this.

Leave us with some words of wisdom. Don’t try to be like anyone, don’t try and cut your hair, don’t try and get piercings, don’t try and be like others. Don’t get a septum ring, don’t get tattoos, just be yourself because everyone else is taken. Don’t try to be different because everybody is trying to be different. Just be you. That’s the only power you have. No one else is you. The industry just keeps changing so you never know what happens tomorrow. And learn to love each other, everyone should love one another. And that’s it, there is a lot of positive energy around when people love each other.