In this issue of DA MAN Style, British model Deano Perona opens up about social media, the unexpected flow of his career along with the ups and downs of working as a pro model.
Modeling began in quite an interesting way for to Deano Perona. The British model described it as a hobby that allowed him to earn some extra pocket change at first. In other words, he didn’t take it seriously. Until, that was, when he found himself suddenly in Milan. That really made Perona look at his chosen career in a whole new light. All that being said, he has so far appeared in numerous runway shows and campaigns (for the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Dsquared2, Armani, Kenzo, Philipp Plein, Tommy Hilfiger, Moschino, Diesel and Stone Island), along with scores of editorials—including several risqué photo shoots that, let’s just say, really stood out. And this year, more exciting projects—still kept under wraps—loom on the horizon.
DA MAN: Hi Deano, how are you doing and what are you currently busy with?
Deano Perona: I’m doing well, thanks! Life as a model really is about consistency, especially in the gym and with the diet. I’m currently trying to stay healthy, keeping fit and having fun.
DA: How’s 2020 shaping up for you so far?
DP: Even though 2020 has just started, I have a few projects already lined up and I’m optimistic for the future. There are a few projects coming up, however I can’t say what they are quite yet…
DA: A lot of models went through rather unexpected beginnings in the industry. What about you? How did your modeling career start?
DP: My career started without me realizing it. It began as more of a hobby for me, in order to get some pocket change, after I was spotted on the train. I didn’t think much of it and didn’t take it seriously, until after my first season in Milan where I opened the Dolce & Gabbana The Naked King Men’s show for spring/summer 2019 and landed a Dsquared2 campaign the very next day. At that time, I thought to myself that maybe I’ve got something that could be a career.
DA: What was your first big break in modeling?
DP: My first break was the Dsquared2 campaign. My agent called me before my show the day before and told me to not stay out too late as I was needed the very next morning to front the campaign, together with the likes of Irina Shayk, and shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. The set was a dreamy atmosphere and the day just flew by. I was just grateful to be there.
DA: Back then, who did you look up to in the industry?
DP: I picked my role models early on. I’ve always loved the classy gentlemen to look up to and so, no better than Paul Newman, David Gandy and Marlon Brando is on that list. I’ve always admired their work, as it helps for inspiration.
DA: Do you still remember what happened during your first professional photo shoot? What challenges did you face back in the day?
DP: All I remember was when I walked into the studios and suddenly feeling intimidated by all the other models at the time. It felt a little surreal and weird. Then, when I got in front of the camera was probably an even worse feeling. I can just remember feeling faint and helpless, as I didn’t know how to move. I was moving about all over the place, just hoping that something would look good. I laugh about it now, but I definitely wasn’t back then. I’d like to think I’ve got the hang of it now.
DA: Speaking of which, you were on Dolce & Gabbana’s fall/winter 2019 men’s campaign and also Dsquared2’s spring/summer 2019 campaign. Could you tell us how those shoots went?
DP: Both shoots were great and I was just grateful to be there. I remember wanting more of my face being shown, so I remember having this low-key competition with another model to get into one of the images and we were both looking awful just to get into the shot. But I guess it worked out, as any major campaign is just a pleasure to be a part of and it’s a stepping stone for every model. So, you just try to make the most of it.
DA: How do you usually prepare yourself before doing a photo shoot?
DP: Not much preparation goes into a shoot other than walking in with a smile and feeling genuinely happy to be there and in every moment. And, of course, staying hydrated and going in with a full stomach.
DA: On the other hand, could you tell us about your most unforgettable photo shoot?
DP: The most unforgettable one for me was my Armani shoot. It was different because I’ve never cussed at a photographer whilst he’s on the floor shooting me. He demanded genuine emotion, so I really had to become an actor to feel anger and display it to the camera without holding back. We were having a full-blown blazing argument and the whole set of around 12 people was just staring at us. It was certainly my first time stepping out of my comfort zone and definitely unforgettable.
DA: Moving back to the present, if you compare your experiences then and now, what lessons have you learned in making it as a model?
DP: The main lesson is to be professional and stay vigilant, as not everyone has your best intentions in mind.
DA: Out of all projects you’ve been involved in, which one was the most fun?
DP: Definitely the Kenzo eyewear campaign. I found it interesting as I got to act like an actor, to be on stage and say some lines. It was cool and something different than just taking pictures. I felt comfortable and something just seemed to have clicked for me.
DA: And which one was the most challenging along with the one that you are most proud of?
DP: My most proud moment will have to be the Dolce & Gabbana eyewear campaign recently. I’ve had quite a few people see it and send it to me. It’s always a good feeling. On the other hand, the most challenging would be a campaign I shot long ago at Brighton beach. I had a constant shiver all day long and after two minutes of shooting, I needed 10 minutes to heat up with the makeup artist wrapping me in a space blanket. I was shooting T-shirt, in weather conditions like in the North Pole. I was genuinely afraid the next morning to leave my room.
DA: A lot of models are nowadays judged in part by their social media presence. What do you think about the influence of social media on models and their careers these days?
DP: Social media has changed the game. Nowadays, clients will check out your Instagram to find out a little more about who you are. It’s definitely your second portfolio, in a way. It plays a major part, as models will now be picked on how many followers they have rather than who’s really right for the campaign. That’s certainly something to be concerned about. Personally, I like to keep my life more private and would prefer to go without it. However, it’s important to keep updating it every now and then, since it’s definitely essential.
DA: On that note, what’s it like to be repetitively exposed to the public’s eye?
DP: I think it’s both good and bad. You can always make yourself seem different to what you may be, which can be a positive, I guess, almost like polishing your image and showing the best parts. However, I’ve never liked it as it’s very easy to judge someone from across a screen negatively, as well as positively, and it doesn’t really give an accurate representation of people. It’s always good to take social media with a pinch of salt.
DA: How often do you check your social media accounts?
DP: Not really so much. I think I’m guilty of that, since I like to keep a distance from it.
DA: What’s the most important thing you have learned from your career in the fashion industry so far?
DP: Just be yourself and don’t try to be someone you’re not.
DA: In your opinion, what are the ups and downs of working as a model?
DP: The benefits definitely outweigh the negatives. I love the fact that you can meet so many different people from all walks of life; that’s what fashion does. I also love the experiences that you get from travelling to new places, that you will keep for the rest of your life. The negative is that it’s very easy to get swept up in all the drama, in terms of ego. But the hardest is staying consistent with training and diet when in dry spots, as those can be quite disheartening.
DA: Last but not least, any advice you would like to give to any aspiring young models looking to make it in the fashion industry?
DP: Ask yourself if the people around you will help you with what you’re trying to achieve, and always stay true to who you are deep down.
Photography Ronald Liem
Styling Peter Zewet
Stylist Assistant Safina Harys
Model Deano Perona / Next Models London
Grooming Yeanne & team
Location The Balé Nusa Dua,
Jl. Raya Nusa Dua Selatan P.O Box 76,
Nusa Dua 80363, Bali Indonesia,
+62 361 775 111
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