Capturing the lives of male models at fashion week

Model-slash-photographer Nick Offord documents the boys on tour in this series

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Nick Offord male models at fashion week diary
Photography Nick Offord

Fashion month is undeniably hectic for everyone involved. For models – rushing to and from shows and castings, getting into hair and make-up – everything is at foot-to-the-floor warp-speed acceleration, so getting a quiet moment to yourself is pretty rare. Model and photographer Nick Offord (who’s featured in Alexander McQueen lookbooks and Marc Jacobs campaigns himself) has captured these moments amongst the chaos. On unmade hotel beds, listening to music between castings and skating through the streets, these images show us fashion month from the less-documented perspectives of the male models. We caught up with Offord to find out more about how he got into modelling and taking photos – and what his best stories from fashion month are. 

How did you get into modelling?

Nick Offord: I was scouted by Eva Gödel at Tomorrow Is Another Day in 2012. Some friends and I were relaxing in London Fields park in Hackney when this confident German lady came and tapped me on the shoulder and said: ‘You’d be perfect for my agency.’ I had no idea what she was talking about, but after she told me it was a modelling agency I was pretty convinced it was a con because I had never considered modelling before. She left me with a business card and asked me to ‘Please call tomorrow.’ I don’t think I would have called her if one of my friends hadn’t said that I should follow it up.

So I did, and met her the next day at The Russian Club Studios in Dalston where we did some headshots. I got a call from her two days later and she told me the people at Alexander McQueen wanted to meet me – I had heard of McQueen, but to be honest it didn’t really mean much to me at the time. I went in to see Harley Hughes and Sarah Burton at the studio in Clerkenwell and I think they asked me there and then if I would shoot the new lookbook with them. So that was that, I was modelling…

“Aled Williams got a black eye the night before the Saint Laurent show. Only to be told the next morning by Hedi Slimane that black eyes were so in this season” – Nick Offord

How about photography?

Nick Offord: I’ve been shooting for years – my friends and I used to shoot each other doing tricks down at the skatepark. More seriously though, in the last couple of years – inspired by all the creative people I know through the fashion industry, I guess.

How does your experience modelling inform your photography?

Nick Offord: I suppose modelling has given me a pretty unique perspective of the fashion industry: I get to see this world from the inside looking out, whereas most other people are looking in from the outside. I guess my photography is a direct contradiction to the glossy plastic world that people see in magazines and adverts.

What's being a male model during fashion week really like?

Nick Offord: For me, to begin with, fashion week was pretty tough. I’m sure everyone has their own experience, but being faced with new cities and new people, constantly feeling judged and out of control wasn’t much fun – I was out of my depth to begin with. I remember calling up my agent after a really long day of casting in Paris, feeling so rejected and disheartened I wanted them to put me on the next flight home. I remember walking up and down the hotel corridors practicing my walk, worried I wasn’t doing it right – I must have looked mad.

When did things pick up?

Nick Offord: I started getting into the groove after my first few seasons – I knew people, I knew really great people, friends I’ll keep for life. We went out for nice lunches in the middle of the day and missed castings, we got invited to parties, we rented nice apartments and had our own parties – we had fun and if we booked some good shows on the side that was a bonus. There’s always been pretty extreme highs and lows during fashion week, but thinking back the good times always outweigh the bad.

Any favourite moments?

Nick Offord: Jacob aka Dinah Lux dressed in drag outside Silencio in Paris being heckled by some French men and Aled Williams coming to the rescue, but in the process getting a black eye the night before the Saint Laurent show. Only to be told the next morning by Hedi Slimane that black eyes were so in this season. Opening my first show for Alexander McQueen. Ben Jarvis’s never ending pranks, Adam Searle doing tricks, Nick Kesselev’s dancing, Sang Woo Kim falling out of the hammock, speaking an entire day in an Irish accent with Greg France, messing up a Thom Browne show and exploring the burnt out rooms in Hotel Printania – to name a few.

Was there anything in particular that influenced you as a photographer?

Nick Offord: Shooting the Marc Jacobs campaign with Juergen TellerAlister Mackie, Cole Mohr and good friend Adam Searle in Venice probably inspired my photography more than any other single moment. Unlike a lot of photographers I had worked with, Juergen would never dwell too long on one particular shot – if it wasnt working we moved on and tried something new. It always felt so casual and easy, it really made me believe I could become a photographer. He told me the first time he ever looked through the viewfinder was the first timer he ever really properly looked, that stuck with me. 

@nickofford

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