Ricardo Cotovio @ Central Models
If you work in fashion, you’ve probably had someone telling you models are shallow and uneducated people who get by just because of how they look. Well, next time you hear that, you can give Ricardo’s example to prove otherwise. Well spoken and polite, he proves focus, hard work and perseverance, along with an incredible work ethic and maturity, are sine qua non personality traces to be a successful model.
How did the opportunity to be a model arise?
It’s a funny story actually! It was 2011 and I was in a summer festival with some friends. A guy approached us (Filipe Canto e Castro) and asked us if we wanted to do a comercial for Vodafone. We said yes and took some photos right there. Then he started calling me for castings for commercials... So I first started working in a advertising agency. It was called Quick, then it changed its name to Brand New People, and then merged with Central Models. So I was there for about a year and then the agency became part of Central Models. I had been previously approached in the street, but was a bit fearful about getting into the fashion world. Maybe I had some prejudice against it, since what I had heard about this world wasn’t that great. But then, destiny took charge and when Central and Brand New People merged, I received a mail suggesting I would transition to the fashion department of the agency. From then on I took baby steps. I was studying and swimming so I developed my book little by little. And then things started getting serious and I started getting good feedback… and here am I.
And what surprised you the most when you started working in Fashion?
Generally speaking, I found out most of what people said (related to drugs and what happened backstage) were just myths. The fashion world mirrors society and reality. So you have good and bad people. And I was also surprised to discover how much I loved doing this, being a model.
What do you love the most? You’ve done runway, campaigns…
Campaigns, mostly! I don’t know if it is because of my height, but I don’t book many runway jobs. I do Portugal Fashion and ModaLisboa, but not every show… But I don’t walk as much as I’d like too. Even abroad… I was in London now but didn’t walk in London Fashion Week… all the men are around 1.90m and I’m 1.84. I’m not short, but I’m not as tall as someone who does runway should be.
Yes, also because in London they tend to look for very tall and thin models.
Yes, yes. I would like to try the US market. It’s more appropriate for me I think. My dream would be to model in New York. As for now I need to gain experience in the European market.
Right. Back to the question… you were saying you like doing campaigns…
Yes! Everything that happens in a team environment… the relationships you build in two/three days… It’s amazing. I can give you an example (thankfully, I have many good examples of what I’m about to tell you): the Mike Davis campaign. I would get to the end of a day and think to myself that it seemed like a day off for me. I was having fun since the minute we started right until the end. It feels really good when this happens.
What were you studying before working as a model full time?
It’s handy for a model!
What was the first struggle you’ve came across when starting to work in fashion? We know good eating habits wasn’t one!
Hahah, no! Struggles… I had a few… The fact that I didn’t have much time. I would have swimming practice ten times a week, because I was in a competing level. Because of this and adding also university classes, I had to say no to some modelling works. It wasn’t easy balancing swimming, studying and modelling. And it always felt bad to decline modelling work. You send the wrong message… people can perceive it as me not being interested. Sometimes I would get this feeling. At the time I didn’t know I would be here today, in this modelling reality and now I look back and see that I could have progressed further if I had made modelling a priority. But I believe everything happens for a reason and the fact that, even having declined work at the beginning, I am still working and still at Central Models… maybe it happened as it should have. When I look back at struggles I try to think about them as experiences that made me grow and get where I am today.
You’ve spent some time working in London. Why London?
The agency in London showed a lot of interest in working with me, so that helped deciding where I should move to. The plan actually was to go to South Africa in January, but in virtue of Wilhelmina’s proposal, I ended up staying in Europe. It has been a good experience, I must say, but it always feels like it could be better, you know? I though I would get there and work non stop. And things don’t always happen like that. People need to know me first and I have to be based in London for clients to book me. But it has been a great growing experience. Being abroad working in fashion and living with other models has been great for my personal and professional growth.
From what you’ve seen working in London, which are the main differences when comparing the English and the Portuguese markets?
The main difference is that something is always happening in London, fashion-wise. I don’t know if when a foreign model comes to Portugal they also have this frenetic daily life of going to meet clients here and there, but in London I get to have 5/6 castings a day for a full week. Of course there are also days where nothing relevant happens, and during those days you start doubting yourself… Of course in Lisbon there are a lot more “slow days”, but since I’m home I keep myself busy with other things and don’t have time to think about not being working.
I had a question prepared, but I think you already answered it… Maybe… I don’t know, let’s see: what was your most remarkable work so far?
Haha, not Mike Davis, actually! It was Tiffosi! The Spring Summer 2015 campaign. The shootings lasted three days and happened in two different locations: one in Oporto and two in Algarve. The whole sun, summer, beach environment plus the amazing house we stayed at… it was one of those millionaire houses with an amazing view over Lagos. It was unbelievable. And it was also my first time working with foreign models. All put together with an amazing team… it was a spectacular experience.
What was the most important thing someone has told you about working in this industry?
For me it was when someone told me I was doing things right. This is important to me… For people to recognize effort in mine and a team’s work. Because it’s not all about being a model. For the end result to be excellent, the whole team has to work well together… from makeup, production, styling, photography, directing. It is important for this acknowledgment to exist and I’ve always tried to treat people well and be nice to everyone I’m working with. Each has their own job to do and the same importance. So when someone told me that what I was doing was the right way to work, I was very happy!
You’ve just finished your degree in nutrition, right?
Yes, I did. I’ve always had an interest in nutrition. No, I’m lying! At the beginning of high school I wanted to be a doctor so I could work in sports medicine. I wanted something related to sports. I remember trying to get the status of “top-level athlete” through Swimming, so I could get into medical school with a lower average. I was a very good student, but with so many practicing and working I couldn’t reach the Medical school average requirements. I couldn’t reach the “top-level athlete” status until I was already in college. But at this time I also started wondering about how I could help my performance through nutrition. I started reading about it and finding some strategies that were important to better sports performance and I started getting curious about nutrition! I wanted to know more and help myself and my team achieve better results. So I got into college studying nutrition and have absolutely no regrets about it. I did an internship at Benfica (in the football department) and I loved it.
And do you have plans to give some continuity to what you’ve studied?
I have some, yes. I’m thinking about putting everything I’ve come across in life, from fashion to nutrition and sports and I’m thinking about creating a blog… but I won’t say anything further haha!
It’s great, because all this areas complement each other really well!
Yes! And also there is something that works in my favor: I know where to get credible sources and scientific information to sustain what I’ll write.
Do you have free time between all this… for some hobbies?
Some, yes. More when I’m abroad. I love everything sports related, so I like to read about nutrition, play football every time I can, going to the gym (well, this is part of my job, but still)…
Last question: goals!
New York. My dream is to live and work there as a model. That’s what I’m working for.
photography Gonçalo M. Catarino
styling Catarina F. Pinto
make up & hair Tiago Figueiredo
model Ricardo Cotovio @ Central Models