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“I avoid situations where I have to tell people what I do,” British model Simon Clark says, best-known for his adverts for Mont Blanc fragrances. The conversation always ends at, ‘Do you get to keep the clothes? ’” It’s one of the few professions where men earn less than women, the clothes you’re made to wear are frequently ridiculous and the chances are your mates spend their time laughing at you behind your back.’ It stops guys in their tracks because they don’t know how to react at all. The spirit of Derek Zoolander looms large over proceedings.“The good news is he looks like Damian Lewis,” noted the Mail Online.“The bad news is he looks like Damian in those scenes where he had just been dug out of a filthy hole, after being incarcerated by the Taliban [sic] for eight years.” The craze for “real men” (read: non-models, boys-next-door) has become a bit of a thing, too, with agencies entering the market to cater for demand.“Anonymity goes with it,” Clark says, of male modelling.“I think I’ve been recognised once in Germany in the last 15 years.” The occasional chiselled jawline might ring a distant bell as it gazes down from a billboard but, by and large, male models appear to be totally interchangeable. Nick Kamen off the Levi’s advert, yes – but people only found out his name after he launched a pop career.
He’s known only as Athena Man: the guy cradling the baby in those black-and-white posters from the high-street stationers in the Eighties.
Since then, he’s the one male model who really has become a household name, via sheer force of will and an impressive raft of extracurricular projects that include journalism, charitable endeavours like Comic Relief, TV appearances on comparisons by making fun of them himself. “Now a lot more men aren’t afraid to say, ‘Yes, I’m a model’,” Gandy says.
“Hopefully, I’ve set a precedent for other guys to come into this industry.
Being a “professionally good-looking” guy is to imply you don’t have much going on upstairs, so you probably couldn’t hold down a proper job anyway.
While the female side of the business produces its mononymous megastars – your Kates, Naomis and Christies; lately your Caras and your Laras – the same could not be said for the boys.
Most male models have tended to fall into the industry after being pushed into it by partners, or “discovered” doing something else.