Golden Iris Awards

Andrej Pejic & River Viiperi: Golden Iris Winners for Fashion Model of the Year

By: Michael Matson

In 1969, a rare event was broadcast on live television. After reading the nominees for Best Actress at the 41st annual Academy Awards ceremony, film legend Ingrid Bergman opened the envelope containing the name of the winner and exclaimed, “It’s a tie!” The Oscar went to Katharine Hepburn for her performance in The Lion in Winter and Barbra Streisand for her performance in Funny Girl.

Today, we are pleased to also exclaim, “It’s a tie!” The 2011 Golden Iris Award for Fashion Model of the Year goes to Andrej Pejic and River Viiperi because each man is a new breed of male model for very different reasons.

Andrej Pejic 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.


Explaining why River Viiperi (who also won the Reader's Choice voting with 49% of the votes) was named one of 2011’s top male models, described the 20-year-old as “the newsest breed of model, the one who realizes the importance of new media. There is no other male model at this moment who engages as much with his legion of fans.” The Spanish pupcake also soared to new career heights by scoring major campaigns with a group of diverse advertisers including; Armani Exchange, CK One, Macy’s, Tommy Hilfiger, and Versace for H&M. The self-described “future actor” remained a prime obsession of blogger Perez Hilton and caused the entire cast of Bravo’s Fashion Hunters (two single women, one gay man and one married woman) to lose their collective shit over him during an appearance on the November 8th episode. The last male model to have this kind of matinee idol effect on both genders was a guy named Channing Tatum.

Photos (top to bottom): Jeremy Kost, Anthony Meyer, Christian Rios