Daily Archives: May 3, 2012
In 2008, we collected a young Australian from the airport to shot a men’s editorial for Black Issue #9. His name was Andrej Pejic and as he came through the arrivals door it was immediately obvious he was something special. In the years since, Andrej has rapidly become the poster boy, or girl, of ‘androgynous’ modelling worldwide, a designation he says “will do” In truth, the boy from Bosnia just want to continue, with ‘life’.
You were born in Bosnia and spent some of your childhood in a refugee camp near Belgrade. Tell us about your childhood in Serbia?
-Well, I was born in tough times, economically it was difficult but I don’t find my childhood to be traumatising, and I can thank my mother and grandmother for that. It was pretty carefree and positive, even though we didn’t necessarily have a lot of material things.
When did your family settle in Australia and was it easy to set up a new life in such a different place?
-We moved to Australia in 2000 and settling in was not easy. I think Australian and European cultures are quite different. Integrating was difficult because there were few, if any, programmes for foreign children. We learnt how to swim after being thrown in the deep end.
There are number of stories about the day you were scouted in Melbourne. Tell us what really happened?
-Well, really, I discovered when I was working at McDonalds. An agent happened to walk in during my shift. His name is Joseph Tenni. He ordered fries and gave me his card.
You came and stayed with us in 2008 when you shot for Black. Was that one of your first shoots? What are your memories of those few days in Auckland?
-It was actually my second shoot ever! I remember beautiful scenery, nature and a beautiful house overlooking beaches with black sand and that furry cat! Also, the Gucci collection was insane.
Rachael asked you when you were having dinner one night, “What do you hope to achieve as a model?” You said that one day you hoped you could pay off your mother’s mortgage, you are getting close to being able to do that?
-Yes, very soon!
You have redefined the term ‘androgynous model’ in that you can model either men’s or women’s fashion and famously did so for JPG in early 2011. Is your personal dress sense also androgynous? If so, how do you decide what to wear each morning?
-Yeah, I think so. I love masculine womenswear. Sometimes I feel more grungy and sometimes I feel more chic. I try to be creative but I never take it too seriously. I don’t want clothes to define me.
In a television interview you said that “you don’t place that much value on beauty, and you don’t think society should either.” What DO you place value on?
-Well, I don’t think society’s obsession with physical beauty is unhealthy but I think most people grasp that, even if they often forget. I place value on revolutionary (anti-establishment) thinking, on love, on intelligent, on humour and creativity.
As someone who is at the forefront of the androgynous trend, have you become aware of the emergence of models like yourself, both male and female?
-I think that there is definitely a trend of masculine girls and feminine boys emerging.
If so who?
-Saskia de Brauw, Dafne Cejas, Erika Linder.
Marc Jacobs says that the fact you are feminine, masculine or androgynous is not important to him, that “everything is interesting, if you are interested in it.” How do you feel about the ‘androgynous’ label?
When you appeared for Jean-Paul Gaultier in a wedding dress you were the first male in living memory to appear in a couture show in a bridal gown. How special was that moment for you?
-Extremely special. It was like my wedding day. Before the show I looked at myself in the mirror and I said, “This is it bitch, this is IT!”
You have worked with some of the fashion world’s great photographers; Steven Meisel, Mert & Marcus, Inez and Vinoodh, Juergen Teller, Willy Vanderperre among others. What does a photographer need to do to get the most out of you as a model?
-It needs to click. We need to be in tune with each other. You have to please their interest and they have to be sensitive to yours. Kind of like sex. I love it when they give me freedom, with just enough instruction.
Patty Huntington makes reference to the fact that men used to be ‘peacocks’ — from the men at court pre-French revolution to David Bowie and even Kiss — and that you have redefined how men can now see themselves and dress. Do you see yourself as a role model in a fashion sense?
-Well, I don’t know if I’ve redefined how men see themselves and dress because I’m not sure that I represent the male gender all that well. David Bowie did much better job of that! But maybe I’ve shown to people that they don’t have to be limited by their physical gender. I’ve slapped traditional gender roles in the face.
You have said that you would have liked to be a lawyer if you weren’t modelling, and also that you may not be in demand forever. Do you have plans for life after modelling?
-Yes. I would like to continue with my life.
Do you have a different walk, depending on whether you are modelling men’s or women’s fashion on the catwalk, or do you simply walk as yourself, as Andrej Pejic.
-In the beginning I did, but now I don’t think I try as hard. At the end of the day I am what I am, but obviously walking in heels is different than flats.
It’s a classic question, what advice do you have for young models starting out in the fashion world?
-You better work!
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
-Inequality, and this class system. Birkins for everbody!
Interview by Grant Fell.