When male model Andrej Pejic closed Jean-Paul Gaultier's spring 2011 womenswear-couture show, it signaled a major shift in the business of male modeling. The 19-year-old Pejic has become the industry's leading male-model provocateur, with gender-bending campaigns for Jean-Paul Gaultier and Steven Meisel emphasizing his asexual good looks in Italian Vogue. After years of more conservative-looking faces like Sean O'Pry and Garrett Neff Pejic makes us reconsider what a typical male model looks like.
Pejic attributes his success not to his androgynous appeal, but rather "hard work and wit coupled with a sexy body. I also see it as being good at my job, but this is fashion, so it's also being right for the right time." The Bosnian-born teen is honest about his role as an androgynous male model, too. "I think everyone is pigeonholed in this industry, more or less." Canadian model Marcel Castenmiller, known for his long brown locks and lanky, boyish body, agrees. "It comes with the job automatically," he says. "But it's completely understandable."
Both Peijic and Castenmiller are resigned to the short-lived life of the model, unlike many of their female counterparts. Castenmiller, 24, who claims to sometimes forget he's the face of Tommy Hilfiger, is especially realistic. "In ten to twenty years, it will be a new group of boys being asked the same questions," he asserts. "My peers and I will be moving on [and be] recognized for our future careers."
But that new group of boys may not be as androgynous. Gene Kogan, an agent at DNA Models (the home of Castenmiller, Pejic, and Baptiste Giabiconi), feels "trends, by their very nature, are transient. And in fashion, where changes blow through seasonally, this is particularly profoundly felt. So no, I don’t think this will be lasting." Kogan does credit Pejic with pushing the trend. "A guy like Andrej would get work and attention regardless of when he started," he told us. "In my view, Andrej expedited this shift." Good thing. We don't want to stop looking at Pejic just yet.