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MALE CALL: David Gandy’s sculpted torso has joined Scarlett Johansson’s voluptuous flesh in Dolce & Gabbana’s beauty ads. Four athletic men in their skivvies are shooting hoops around model Stella Tennant in Saks Fifth Avenue’s fall campaign. And the muscular limbs of Andrés Velencoso are peeking out from behind Christy Turlington’s black leather wardrobe in Yves Saint Laurent’s spots. Is it too soon to declare the return of the “himbo”?
“I think after the ugly skinny boys of Hedi [Slimane’s] days…some ‘beauty’ was needed, but new beauty,” mused Karl Lagerfeld, whose favorite male model, Baptiste Giabiconi, plays a supporting role in many of the campaigns and editorial features Lagerfeld lensed this season. These include an eye-popping call-boy-themed couture shoot in the September issue of Numero and appearances in Chanel’s cruise and handbag ads for fall. (Giabiconi also recently won a big contract to model for the Schwarzkopf brand Taft.) As for why more men are suddenly turning up in women’s fashion ads and editorials: “It’s very simple,” Lagerfeld explained. “They put the girls in a more lifestyle situation. Lonely girls can be a little sad in a fashion story. They dress not only for other girls, but also to please men. The popularity is sudden because there are a few new faces.”
Handsome faces and fit physiques are also on display in current ads by Calvin Klein, Dsquared and Vivienne Westwood, among others. Lagerfeld likens Giabiconi, now rated number one on Models.com, to “a boy version of Gisele [Bündchen]: skinny, skinny but with an athletic body — good for clothes and great with no clothes.”
According to Lagerfeld, Giabiconi evokes envy even in other models. He recounted that when Naomi Campbell met him in Moscow recently, she told him, “It’s not right: We all have defects. You have none.”
Meanwhile, Italy’s Dsquared noted that coed ads, while sexy, also have an economic plus. “To be perfectly honest, the presence of both men and a woman in the same ad shoot was a way to cut costs and get more value for your money,” said designer Dean Caten, who, with his brother, Dan, conceived a party-girl-on-the-town theme for the fall ads with guys — washboard abs occasionally exposed — as props. “Depending on the predominance of the girl or the boys, the image can go in men’s or women’s magazines.”
— Miles Socha, Alessandra Ilari and Susan Stone