FROM BEHIND THE CURTAIN. Jacob Bixenman takes us behind the scenes of the biggest fashion shows and the inspiring life a rising male model
Shirt and sweater by Tommy Hilfiger
Have you ever wondered what a major runway show by a major fashion brand looks like from the perspective of those actually walking down the runways? How were they chosen? What do models actually do during a big fashion show? Sharing his behind-the-scenes perspectives with DA MAN Style is Jacob Bixenman. While he isn’t exactly a veteran model, his career so far has been more than remarkable with gigs for brands the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Adidas, Stella McCartney and more. And, of course, his first couple of years as a professional model makes quite an engaging story.
Outfit and shoes by Tommy Hilfiger
DAMAN: Hi, Jacob, awesome to have you with us. So, what have you been busy with lately?
Jacob Bixenman: Hey, thanks for having me! Just busy with work, a few creative projects, and enjoying the summer at the moment.
DAMAN: Looking at how 2017 has gone so far, what would you say has been the greatest experience for this year?
Jacob Bixenman: It’s hard to say. I’ve gotten to work with some really inspired and creative people who are killing their games this year, which have all been special experiences in themselves. Spending time in Europe for the fashion weeks this summer was also great. It was the longest I’d been away from home and I learned a lot about myself and how to travel well.
DAMAN: Let’s talk about you walking on the runway of Dolce & Gabbana a couple of months ago. What do you remember most about it?
Jacob Bixenman: I mostly remember the speed that everything happened at, and being surprised at how big of a production the show was. It was a really large cast and unlike other shows I’ve been in. Also, it was my first time working with [British make-up artist] Pat McGrath, who’s a total legend. That was fun.
DAMAN: What was the casting process like for a show of this magnitude?
Jacob Bixenman: I had flown into Milan that morning and was pretty beat after a day of castings, but my agency called and told me to run by the Dolce & Gabbana offices. It was hot and humid at the time, so I remember being a mess. But I headed over, threw in a piece of gum, splashed some water on my face and met with the casting director. We talked for a bit, took digitals and I walked for him. Either the next day or a few days later, I came back for a fitting and met the designers, who tried a few different looks on me before confirming my look and sending me to rehearsal that night. The show was the next day.
DAMAN: Speaking of castings, how do you usually prepare yourself before going to one? Again, especially for something as big as a Dolce & Gabbana show…
Jacob Bixenman: It depends on the nature of the casting, but for the most part I try just to be myself and not think much about it. Confidence and kindness go far, especially when you’re in a room surrounded by totally qualified people. Just be chill, do your best, and let them get to know you.
“Personalize or modernize something classic rather than chase a moment”
DAMAN: What do you think is the one thing most people get wrong about how a proper fashion show is run?
Jacob Bixenman: There’s so much preparation and waiting around at every show. Which is funny, considering how little actual time you spend walking. For maybe a minute of time in front of everyone, there are hours of behind-the-scenes, sitting around while people fix hair and makeup and adjust the clothes, etc. Other than that, it’s similar to what people would expect.
Outfit by Tommy Hilfiger
DAMAN: By the way, could you tell us a bit about how you got started as a professional model?
Jacob Bixenman: Sure. I was scouted online by my New York agency who put me in contact with the L.A. office where I got signed. From there, I signed in New York and started working between the two, before recently signing abroad.
DAMAN: If modeling didn’t work out for you back then—or if you had simply decided to do go on a different path—what do you think would you be doing right now?
Jacob Bixenman: I’m sure I’d be doing the same things that I am doing now, just with some extra time to focus. Maybe film school.
DAMAN: What was the first big surprise to hit you early on that made you go, “Oh, so this is what it means to be a model”?
Jacob Bixenman: One of the biggest learning curves was understanding how to handle anticipation and rejection. Most of modeling is based on subjective criteria of certain casting directors, clients and so on. I’ve been on hold for amazing jobs that didn’t work out and I’ve gone to castings for jobs that I didn’t think I had a chance at but ended up getting confirmed for. You eventually surrender to it and learn that your job is to just be yourself and work hard. But it takes a minute to understand.
DAMAN: What do you remember the most about the very first fashion shoot that you did?
Jacob Bixenman: The first major shoot that I did was with Peter Lindbergh for Interview magazine and I remember being beyond excited and nervous the night before. I didn’t know what to expect working with a photographer of that caliber and it ended up being such a fun day/crew. It was a sort of beatnik, West-Village-inthe- sixties story and I had on this Burberry mesh tank with my hair slicked back. It was cool.
DAMAN: What was the shoot or show that really put you on the map?
Jacob Bixenman: It’s hard to say. I think everything that I’ve done has put me in position for what’s come next, so it’s been more of a gradual experience than a big, singular moment.
DAMAN: How about the shoot with the most exciting locale?
Jacob Bixenman: I shot an Adidas campaign this season that was in this airplane graveyard in the desert. They were all scrapped and defunct like something out of a zombie movie. It was really cool.
“One of the Biggest learning curves was understanding how to handle anticipation and rejection”
DAMAN: Besides modeling, have you ever thought about expanding into other parts of fashion? Designing, perhaps? Or styling?
Jacob Bixenman: I’m by no means a designer or stylist, but I definitely enjoy being creative in that way. I actually collaborated with the New York workwear brand Peels on a few shirts featuring some of my artwork earlier this year and am about to launch a few T-shirts with sketches of my own. I love clothing and am creatively down for whatever if it happens naturally.
DAMAN: Who do you consider your role models?
Jacob Bixenman: My friends, for sure. I’m constantly impressed by the kind, creative, funny people around me.
DAMAN: We’ve seen your runway looks and we’ve seen you in photo shoots. Now, how would you describe your off-set, unplanned, day-to-day look?
Jacob Bixenman: Temperamental, but usually quite comfortable.
DAMAN: All in all, though, do you enjoy working as a fulltime professional model?
Jacob Bixenman: Yeah, I do. I feel really, really lucky to be surrounded by creativity and able to see the world in the capacity that I do.
Shirt by Guess
DAMAN: What would be your top three styling tips for men?
Jacob Bixenman: Take your time. Be selective and turn finding clothing into a hobby. A lot of my favorite items are finds from thrift stores and random spots, but you have to be willing to look without any guarantees. It’s a lot of trial and error, but fun if you let it be. In general, personalize or modernize something classic rather than chase a moment. You’ll get more life out of your clothing and won’t look dated. That being said, don’t be afraid to push your limits and explore. Do your thing. Ignore styling tips. Wear what makes you feel best.
DAMAN: Besides your work, what else are you passionate about?
Jacob Bixenman: Dogs, dive bars, [singer] Elliott Smith, writing, photography, procrastinating, equality, Cuban food and [actor] Larry David.
DAMAN: When, where or with whom are you the happiest?
Jacob Bixenman: Really any time or place spent with the people that I love or make me laugh the most. Otherwise, natural spots around California like Yosemite or Malibu. Those are some of the most magical places to me.
DAMAN: Do you have a favorite phrase, quote or saying that best sums up your life?
Jacob Bixenman: “Live to the point of tears,” by Albert Camus.
Outfit by Tommy Hilfiger
Shirt and sweater by Tommy Hilfiger