DANCE INTO THE LIGHT. David Friend, the muse of Saint Laurent, talks about his journey into the high-stakes world of male modeling
Outfit and bag by Louis Vuitton
The life story of top model David Friend sounds like something tailor-made for a best-selling novel or the script for an Oscar-nominated drama movie. There’s the childhood spent in a small town in Florida, there’s the boundless creativity kindled by a charmingly artistic and close knit family, there’s the years spent behind the scenes as a stylist followed by a momentous runway debut. Only, of course, all of this is real.
Last year, Friend appeared as a surprise addition—the only male model, actually— during the unveiling of Anthony Vaccarello’s first collection for Saint Laurent. This, by the way, was right after Vaccarello was appointed as the brand’s creative director. Since then he has walked for other brands (Salvatore Ferragamo’s Spring/Summer 2018 show, for instance) and appeared in various editorials. Still, his most notable works to date are for Saint Laurent’s runway shows and campaigns. And he does all that and more while still keeping his passion for styling and designing very much alive.
Jacket by Versace
DA MAN: Hi, David. Awesome to have you with us. So, we notice that you’ve had quite a busy 2017 so far. Will we see you anywhere else before the year is over?
David Friend: I hope so, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise factor for everybody.
DA MAN: Let’s move back a bit to the show that really put you on everyone’s radar: Anthony Vaccarello’s first collection for Saint Laurent last year. Today, what do you remember the most about that day?
David Friend: I was really nervous and talking to people wasn’t very easy because I felt distracted. But after the walk I was really happy about it.
DA MAN: What, would you say, is your most unique side?
David Friend: I can’t stop dancing in any situation. Doesn’t mean it’s good, but I don’t think anyone dances the same way. I do it when I feel awkward; it makes me feel more relaxed.
DA MAN: You’ve done a lot of “behind the scenes” work in fashion before you started modeling. In what ways has this helped you as a model?
David Friend: I think it helped me book a few shoots, taught me how to work well on set and I learned a lot of random little things.
Jacket by Salvatore Ferragamo
DA MAN: You’re known as a model who also does styling, design and even photography. Where did this passion come from?
David Friend: I didn’t know I was known for all that. [Laughs] I only focus on design at the moment but will get back to shooting when those two correlate. I come from a really passionate family; a lot of my siblings and my mother are artists.
“I come from a really passionate family; a lot of my siblings and my mom are artists”
DA MAN: By the way, what does being a model mean to you?
David Friend: I don’t think about it much. It went well so far and I’ve had a lot of fun. That’s why I’m still doing it.
Earrings, outfit and shoes by Givenchy
DA MAN: So far, what is the best part of being a model?
David Friend: It’s easier to make a goal come true now, than if I would have stayed in Florida. I had a really hard time knowing what steps I need to take to get away.
DA MAN: Conversely, is there anything that you wish you could change about the way things are done in your line of work?
David Friend: It’s a lot harder for women. I think it’s been good for me but every industry has faults.
DA MAN: Among all the designers, photographers, fellow models and so on that you’ve worked with, who has had the biggest impact on your career or on your outlook on the industry? Also, who would you want to work with in the future?
David Friend: I’ve met some really great people; I wouldn’t say just one name. Some of my best friends are models, stylists or photographers I’ve met over the last four years and right now I really enjoy working with friends.
Outfit by Givenchy
DA MAN: How would you describe your personal sense of style?
David Friend: At this moment I dress like a crew member. I really like hiking gear because I feel like I can do anything and walk anywhere. Definitely not my most stylish point in life.
“At this moment I dress like a crew member. definitely not my most stylish point in life”
DA MAN: When you’re styling somebody else, though, or when you’re working on your own designs, what do you usually focus on? What inspires you?
David Friend: Smoking on my balcony because there is a view of downtown but it’s far and everything looks really tiny. I like listening to music with headphones and online researching. I get pretty obsessive looking at vintage designs online.
Outfit by John Varvatos
DA MAN: Moving ahead, do you think you will spend more time in front or behind the cameras? Say, in the next five years or so…
David Friend: In five years I may have a restraining order against cameras; you never know…
DA MAN: Have you ever thought about what you would be doing right now if you hadn’t gone into modeling back then?
David Friend: I like nature because I grew up with it. I have intentions of being deep in nature again when I’m older. If I could have any job, I’d want Anthony Bourdain’s job, no doubt.
Outfit and shoes by Versace
DA MAN: What do you usually do when you have time to just do whatever you want?
David Friend: Thrift, draw, smoke with friends. Or if it’s a lot of free time, I’d road trip or fly somewhere.
DA MAN: Nowadays, what is it that really lifts your mood and makes you happy?
David Friend: Nature.
DA MAN: What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard?
David Friend: It would take me a really long time to decide that, but whenever I’m in my head or stressed, I tell myself to go swimming. And I think that is good piece of self-advice because it always works.
Outfit and shoes by Salvatore Ferragamo
Photography Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Model David Friend / LA Models
Styling Suzi Rezler
Grooming Robert Bryan @statemgmt.com using YSL makeup and Yves Saint Laurent Luxury Skincare
Styling Assistant Mark Weidner
Photographer Assistant Sean Kennedy and Zachary Kramer