Playing The Game – A glimpse into the life of Argentinian model Nicolas Ripoll, who went from zero to Milan Fashion Week in only a month
There are models who start their careers the old-fashioned way: By taking on small, low-key shoots and then steadily work their way up to more meaty advertising projects and fashion shows. But there are also quite a few models who hit the ground running and make their debut directly in the big leagues. Nicolas Ripoll from Argentina falls in the second category.
It’s actually quite hard to imagine a debut that’s bigger than Ripoll’s: Opening and closing Prada’s show in Milan back in 2009. His list of clients then quickly grew to include the likes of Givenchy, Lanvin, Hermès and Kenzo. The following years came shows and campaigns for Roberto Cavalli, Yves Saint Laurent and Versace, followed by Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Chanel and many more. Although we wouldn’t go so far as to say that it would be easier to list the names of major fashion brands that he hasn’t worked for, the list of labels he has worked for is more than impressive.
Naturally, a professional model of Ripoll’s caliber has quite a few tales to tell, which offers us some new and interesting bits of insight into the world of fashion.
DAMAN: Hi, Nicolas. Thanks for having us. How about we start at the beginning: Can you tell us a bit about how you discovered modeling?
Nicolas Ripoll: It all started with my family trying to rescue me from playing video games all day. They took a few pictures of my and spread it all around to models agencies in Argentina. Immediately, agencies called my family back and a month after I was booked for the Milan Fashion week. It was all really fast for me…
DA: What was one of the biggest surprises that you encountered in your early days as a model?
NR: I was at Prada, fitting in a room with many people and the new collection, also with the owner of the company, Miuccia Prada. She asked for a pair of scissors and started walking towards me with a funny look in her eyes! Then suddenly she started cutting off all those beautiful clothes on me. She cut the sleeves out, the neck, the shirt, and the shoes! What a surprise for me, to see how a designer can re-work the collection that will be on the catwalk a few hours later. Creativity never stops!
DA: Also, which parts of modeling came natural to you?
NR: All of them, of course. I’m a natural—can’t you tell? I like playing the game, especially for video advertising. I would like to become an actor or a comedian someday … although my sense of humor is very particular.
DA: On the flip side, is there anything about modeling that you’re still struggling with?
NR: Of course: I can’t turn right! Still, after all these years.
DA: All in all, what was it that finally convinced you to really pursue modeling as a career?
NR: Traveling, I will say. It’s my dream since I was a kid. To be on the move all the time is so important for me. I get bored easy and I need constant change. To be a model gave me my first passport and I have to change it every year. Too many stamps! It’s awesome.
DA: You started out around 2008, right? Now, a decade later, what would you say are some of the biggest changes in the modeling world compared to when you just started?
NR: I heard that robot and drones do some fashion shows now. But that’s how fashion goes. It reinvents itself and seeks to question its time constantly. Provoking, pushing its own limits.
DA: Nowadays, we see a lot of “Instagram models” popping up as well as brands using social media for campaigns. How has this affected more traditional models like you?
NR: It does not change our job much. Social networks are a world where you seek to travel, dream and discover. It’s good to give the opportunity to people who do not have the prerequisites to work in fashion. I think it’s very complementary.
DA: How selective are you when you post anything on your own Instagram account? Does your online presence have a marked effect in getting more job offers?
NR: My agents constantly recommend that I post content regularly. But I do not want to be a machine that post a photo every six hours to reach the world. I share photos from time to time, but I am more into Netflix than Instagram.
DA: In general, though, what does it take for a professional model to stand out these days?
NR: Patience. This is a job where you must not be afraid of tomorrow, always be available and in a good mood. Not easy when you travel constantly and jet lag is part of your life. Being natural is the most important in this sometimes artificial world.
DA: This might be a bit clichéd, but what do you think is more important for a model: talent (and good looks, obviously) or skill?
NR: I was fortunate to have an exclusive contract with Prada and I think it opened a lot of doors for me for the rest of my career. Being beautiful is not enough; you also have to meet the right people at the right time.
DA: Speaking of which, how do you generally stay in shape?
NR: I like red wine, nap and eat. You just have to find the right balance.
DA: And what would be your guilty pleasure?
NR: I like pancakes. The days I’m at home I can prepare dough for seven people and eat all of it by myself.
DA: Earlier this year, you worked with Karl Lagerfeld. What do you remember the most about that project?
NR: I was convinced that his cat was called Chouquette [a type of pastry] … I laughed a lot when he told me that it was Choupette. He is a legend in fashion, an icon that I hear about all over the world. He is the designer with the longest and most incredible career. It’s always a pleasure to talk to him.
DA: Have you ever thought about branching out into the other parts of the fashion world? Perhaps some behind-the-camera work?
NR: No, it’s too much stress. I like being in front of the camera and making people laugh. As a model, I can be the person who relaxes the atmosphere.
DA: What would be your ideal future? Your ultimate dream, if you will.
NR: Have a small hotel in front of the sea and wake up every day in shorts, live barefoot and eat fruit and fish.
DA: Do you have any shoots, shows or campaigns in the works? Or perhaps planned for in the near future?
NR: Call my agent, he is my impresario. I have a lot of work coming up, but I can’t talk about them. Stay tuned.
DA: You’ve been in the business for quite a while now. What would you say is the most rewarding part of being a model?
NR: For me it is the discovery. Each work takes place in a different location, with different teams—that is very rewarding. I never really feel like I’m working.
DA: What do you think is the one thing that most people out there still get wrong about your line of work?
NR: That we are always well dressed, ready to wear and haute couture. But the truth is, if you ring at home, you will probably find me not very dressed.
Styling Ovidiu Buta
Grooming Alexis Mercier
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