2011 Golden Iris Nominees: Fashion Model of the Year
Historically, it takes several years for a new decade to find its defining style. These first two years have had a wild, "anything goes" attitude and a willingness to try everything on for size. The five men nominated for Fashion Model of the Year reflect this diverse spirit. There’s statuesque Rob Evans, rugged David Gandy, androgynous Andrej Pejic, sophisticated Zhao Lei and dreamy River Viiperi. Of all the different flavors of male models 2011 served, these are the ones who made the most distinct impressions.
Check out this year's nominees and vote for your favorite. Our pick for 2011’s Fashion Model of the Year will be announced the morning of Thursday, December 22nd. The reader's pick winner will be revealed when voting ends later that same day.
ROB EVANS: In June of 2010, Rob Evans made his fashion debut on a runway in Paris. The British boxer’s symmetrical face and body by Michelangelo had jaded jaws dropping in every row. So it’s no surprise that Evans' career kicked into high gear this year with campaigns for Givenchy, House of Fraser and CK One, the cover of L’Officiel Hommes China, and photo sessions with top talent ranging from Milan Vukmirovic to Steven Meisel. He is also the subject of Be, a documentary film scheduled for release next year that follows the 22-year-old's struggle to decide between the world of professional boxing and the business of fashion. Based on preview clips, the jaw-dropping will spread beyond the fashion world and recruit him a new legion of fans. If he doesn’t win the Golden Iris this year, Be almost guarantees Evans another nomination in 2012.
DAVID GANDY: When Dolce & Gabbana first signed David Gandy back in 2006, his rugged, manly good looks were the antithesis to the waif-like youths dominating male modeling at the time. Five years later, the British babe is still the company’s main man and also the subject of its hardcover photography book David Gandy by Dolce & Gabbana. Photography books devoted entirely to a single model are rare. Books devoted to a single male model are almost unheard of. But Gandy, who writes for British Vogue and GQ and has his own style apps, has proved himself to be a singular and unstoppable force in the world of fashion; a man worthy of his own book. How else do you explain Details magazine choosing the 31-year-old to be the first solo male model to grace the publication’s cover in more than a decade? Gandy’s had many remarkable years in fashion and 2011 was his most impressive yet.
ZHAO LEI: After starring in Prada’s 2010 campaign, Chinese model Zhao Lei became one of Western fashion's new ingénues. This year alone, the 24-year-old has appeared in Diesel’s fall campaign and walked runways for Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, DKNY and Vivienne Westwood. However, in the ever-more-important Asian market, Lei’s a superstar; gracing the covers of Vogue Hommes Japan and the Chinese editions of GQ Style, Men’s Health and L’Officiel Hommes, as well as endless editorial pages and multiple ad campaigns. The West has yet to see an Asian male supermodel, but if anyone is posed to wear that crown, it’s Zhao Lei.
ANDREJ PEJIC: One surefire way to rule the fashion world is to be a chameleon, and no model since Linda Evangelista has mastered morphing better than Andrej Pejic. The Serbo-Croatian who grew up in Australia can go from male to female (or anything in between) with the bat of a false eyelash. In early 2011, after his London modeling agency Storm posted him on both the men’s and women’s boards, the 20-year-old blond was catapulted into the center of a fashion frenzy, walking runways in garments designed for both genders. Campaigns for Jean-Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs followed, as did more magazine covers than just about any other model—male or female. The rest of the world took notice, too: The Advocate included Pejic on its “Forty Under 40” list, Out dubbed him “Stylemaker of the Year” and New York crowned him “Male Model of the Year.” Though it remains to be seen if Pejic will be "in one day and out the next," he’s currently the most remarkable creature to wear couture in at least a decade.
RIVER VIIPERI: When he launched his career in the fall of 2009, River Viiperi was instantly adored by gay bloggers and fashionistos alike (Viiperi scored five magazine covers in as many months). The Spanish pupcake’s popularity went viral in 2010 as young women and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton joined the chorus singing his praises. This year, major advertisers climbed aboard to ride the wild wave of love for River and cast him in campaigns for Macy’s, CK One, Tommy Hilfiger, Armani Exchange and Versace for H&M, helping him secure his second consecutive Golden Iris nomination. Anyone still trying to understand the enormity of this 20-year-old’s charisma can simply watch Viiperi’s appearance on the November 8th episode of Bravo’s Fashion Hunters, which featured the entire cast (two single women, one gay man and one married woman) losing their collective shit over him.