Francisco Faria @ Karacter
Since the minute we started the interview, we could feel his passion for modelling. While talking about his experiences, Francisco would stand up, gesticulate, alter the tone of his voice and smile in a way you could almost enter his soul. And then, when the camera pointed at him, we would see his passion come to life. We were then sure he was definitely someone we should keep an eye on. And so should you.
How did you start modeling?
I started in my agency’s contest (Karacter). The booker saw some pictures of mine that a friend showed him, he liked them and called me. After a few days I went to Lisbon to participate in the contest. In the beginning I had no expectations whatsoever. My goal was just to be in the finalists so I could be part of the agency and do some gigs. I remember perfectly well the day of the semifinal. The agency’s director got in the room where we were (some 10 girls and 10 boys from the contest), after talking one on one with every model, and told us we were the finalists and everyone started jumping up and down with excitement and I just stood there, static… I really wasn’t expecting that.
Then, two weeks after that, we had the finals, in a mall. I went just to go and see how it worked because I already had my contract and was satisfied… and then I won! I was very surprised, also because I was the shortest and there were models with very international looks. I never thought I would win. Me, someone who looks so normal.
You have been working abroad. How did your international career begin?
I had the opportunity to go abroad because I was able to balance my studies with working as a model.
So, you went abroad to study and then found an agency?
Exactly. I was in my last year of university and didn’t want to leave my studies behind. Since I also wanted to do Erasmus, I decided to choose a country with a modelling market where I could potentially work, so I chose Milan and found an agency there.
Did you book a lot of works in Milan?
I was in Milan for 5 months but, in total, I did the equivalent of 2 months of castings because when I got there I had to organise my papers and all for the classes, the renting, the taxes, etc… So I had a few castings in November, but then came home for 2 weeks for Christmas, then got back in January and came back to Portugal definitely in February.
I didn’t work a lot, but what I did was great because I managed to work with very good brands, like Dolce&Gabbana. And to me that was a great personal achievement because when I went to Milan I had in mind I really wanted to work for Dolce&Gabbana. Sometimes people say those things about really thinking about what you want because it happens. I never believed in that but the truth is that when I went to Milan I had this fixation about working for Dolce&Gabbana and got to do it! I did the catalogue, the e-commerce and then runway on the Fashion Week, which was a surprise to me because I’m not very tall and I’m aware of my limitations. I’m not really a runway model, I’m much more commercial. So to do all this was a dream.
And how did you book Dolce & Gabbana?
It was directly with my booker. There wasn’t a casting.
I like to say I got really lucky in the midst of being really unlucky, because I was in option and had several callbacks for Armani and Moschino. I even got called for Lanvin, which surprised me because my looks don’t really match with the brand… To Armani I went three times so I thought I was really going to get the job! But then I never got the jobs… What saved me was Dolce & Gabbana!
Cool! And it was direct booking, so you didn’t have to wait for the answer like in castings.
Well… something worse than that actually happened! My booker called me saying “Congratulations Francisco, you got a job for Dolce & Gabbana”. I was alone in the subway in Milan and literally shouted! I only called my flatmate to tell the news because I didn’t want to jinx it and my mom and didn’t tell anyone else. The job was supposed to happen in two days. The day after I got the news, I asked my booker for the details about timing and location since the job was going to be on the next day. He told me they hadn’t said anything else so for the time being it was on stand by. Immediately, I thought it wasn’t going to happen, because I’m quite the unlucky guy and this things tend to happen to me! But then the next day I got a call from by booker telling me the details and that I was going to do the job, and I went!
What about for the runway job? Did you have castings?
For the Fashion Week yes, there was a casting. I passed the casting that was with a casting director that I didn’t know and not with the designers, that I had met already.
You met Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana?
Yes, because they are the creative brains behind everything that goes on with the brand. They chose the looks for me to wear and even changed on set a sweater I had on for the photo. Domenico was doing this alteration and he needed a pin and he didn’t even need to ask. He just turned slightly and two people came running to help. It is such a well-oiled machine and you could feel a respectful atmosphere towards the designers. They even choose the photo they want and tell you exactly what you should do, the pose, everything. They know exactly what they want.
Ok, going back to the question about the runway…
Yes! So, I passed the casting and did the fitting, but my trousers were a bit big on me, so I was a bit in doubt about weather or not I would actually do the job. My booker called me on the following day telling me I had to run to the rehearsal, and then I knew I was going to do the show.
Here in Portugal you had already done runway, right? ModaLisboa?
And Portugal Fashion, yes.
What do you think is the main difference between doing runway abroad and here in Portugal?
Outside the environment is much more impersonal. Between models it is always cool, of course, but here ModaLisboa and Portugal Fashion has this feeling of being an event to meet old friends! Also, here the shows happen all in the same place, which doesn’t happen abroad. In Milan every show had its own location. And here the fittings happen hours before the show and in Milan they usually happen on the day before, and if the clothes don’t fit properly we risk not walking on the day of the show.
Here there is no risk of that happening?
No… not really. Not often at least! It has happened for me before, but only once, because they had my measures wrong and the suit was way too long. But then I booked the show the next year and it went really well. The brand even used my runway picture as a print to use in an advertisement!
What do you like the most about working in fashion?
I love this in general. I like walking, shooting, seeing the end results of the pictures, getting to meet new people… I think that if it wasn’t for fashion, my life would be restricted to university and my small environment. Fashion allows me to broaden my horizons and gain some skills that will also be useful for my day-to-day life… it taught me to be persistent and self confident. There is a lot of good things I can take from working in fashion and that feels amazing.
What do you think are the most important factors that make a successful model?
Besides image… attitude! If you go to a casting, attitude is one of the things that will make a casting director call you or not. There are hundreds of models in line and attitude is the way we can differentiate ourselves from others. Good looking guys are everywhere and there is always someone who is taller, fitter… so the way you act and your presence is one of the best ways you have to make yourself be noticed.
And how do you do it? In a casting. How do you show your attitude?
First, you need to show confidence. Also, maybe because I come from the North, I speak on a louder tone. Then you have to smile and be communicative and helpful. If the casting director’s pen falls, of course I’m going to catch it for him! You need to show you are respectful, interested and approachable. That always helps.
You have been with Karacter since you started modelling. How important is the relation between models and their agencies?
I have an amazing relationship with my agency. I think the relation with the agency has to be a trustful one. The booker-model relationship in Portugal is very different from the one abroad. Here it is much more personal and outside is more business-oriented. Here, the relation between model and booker is much closer, which always ends up bringing much more freedom for the model to express himself and ask questions. When I was in Milan I sometimes got unsure about making questions.
What was the best advice you have ever received about working in fashion?
Directly to me I’m not recalling anything specific, but from what I’ve learned I can say the best advice is to never give up. If it doesn’t work on the first try, or the second, maybe on the third you will make it. That is what I try to do.
Do people usually ask you for advice?
Yes! Sometimes I struggle with that… people have asked me on social media what they should do to be a model, or even if I think they have potential. I mean, even if they don’t, I can’t say that! What I always say is to look for an agency and that I can try to help them with that, giving them references. And then they need to listen to the agency’s feedback… I don’t want to be the one who tells them they don’t have the right height, or body, or face!! I don’t feel I have the authority to tell anyone if they can or can’t be a model.
So you’d advise people to look for an agency…
Yes, a good agency! Because there are also agencies that only want you to pay for books!
And how can someone that doesn’t yet know this industry, recognize a good agency?
If they ask you for money for a book, it’s not a good agency. You can’t even call it an agency. No model is supposed to pay to belong to an agency.
What is, in your opinion, the biggest myth there is about working in fashion?
The first one has to be that being a model is just showing up to take some pictures. Being a model is not that easy. It requires effort and persistency. When I was in Milan, I sometimes had castings on the same day or had a shooting in one city and had to take a train to go to another for a casting, only to get there and stand for an hour holding my book…
Even my friends, they look at me and start making jokes, saying stuff like “you’re living the life, making lots of money!”. I mean, this job is so unpredictable and I put a lot on effort in this. I have to miss classes sometimes because of work… Last week I had a casting on Monday, here in Lisbon, then took the train for three hours to go to the North, where I shot all day in the beach wearing shorts and t-shirts in a freezing day, came back to Lisbon… I mean it is tough and you get tired. And then I have to balance this with my studies and with working out also.
And what are your hobbies?
I like to do the usual stuff… hanging with friends, working out, playing sports, travelling…
And what about goals?
My biggest goal is already accomplished… working for Dolce & Gabbana! But, of course, I’m an unsatisfied person and when I achieve something I find something else I’d like to do. I’d like to book an international campaign.
For Dolce & Gabbana?
If it were for Dolce it would be the absolute dream! Then I’d like to explore another market besides Milan. I would love to go to the USA. L.A., New York… It’s something I have to discuss with my booker, to understand when it would be the right time to do it.
One final question. You’re studying Marketing. Is it something you would also like to pursue as a career or will it be in stand by for you to work as model?
That’s something I’d also like to know… It is consuming me not knowing what I should do next. I’m finishing my degree very soon and haven’t decided if I should do a Master, get an Internship, put Marketing on hold for a while, try modelling in another part of the world… I don’t know yet!
photography Gonçalo M. Catarino
styling Catarina F. Pinto
make up & hair Tiago Figueiredo
model Francisco Faria @ Karacter