New correspondent Kate Fensterstock interviews rising star model and history of art student Tommaso De Benedictis
“As a model you want to feel good in what you are wearing”, states Tommaso De Benedictis, before adding: “I have had the opportunity to work with global fashion empires who are making a statement with their collections. Design is rooted in culture; it’s been my favourite part of the job”.
Tommaso De Benedictis’s modelling career began in a way that might at first strike as the saccharin success story of your average Joe simply spotted on the street. But Tommaso’s impression of his achievements is as genuine as they come.
He recounts the day his agency, Tomorrow is Another Day – known casually as TIAD – spotted him playing a pick-up football game. “This woman came up and asked me if I’d ever modelled before. I didn’t know what to say, except: ‘No, sorry!’” Tommaso tells this story as simply as this, in a soft Anglo-Italian accent. There is no pretention, no feigned modesty: Just the facts.
Having grown up between New York City, London and Rome, Tommaso is now studying at the prestigious Courtauld Institute of Art. A former history of art student myself, and having lived in New York and London, our conversation quickly turned to art, languages and travelling. “I am very passionate about the art world, specifically the history and museology, and my agency is incredibly supportive of time devoted to my studies and also time spent traveling to see my family”. But, for Tommaso, it turns out that these worlds collide more often than expected. “When I went to the casting for Gucci Spring/Summer 2015, the whole creative team was sat in a semi-circle with Frida Gianni in the middle. It was incredibly intimidating. When I gave the team my book and introduced myself, they were surprised I wasn’t German as the agency is based in Cologne. Frida switched to Italian and started asking me questions about growing up in Rome. It turns out we visit the same pastry shop on the corner of my street. I think I made an impression because I ended up landing the campaign”. His comment is not snarky, it’s bashful, laughing at his own surprise that this is a true story.
It wasn’t the first time his rich cultural exposure has benefitted him on the runway. “I was taken with Valentino’s collection that was inspired by constructivism, a discipline I am studying at the moment for my dissertation. I really admire Valentino for drawing inspiration from art, and it does really make me feel better in the clothes when designed by someone I respect”.
And what’s next? “I hope to work in Tokyo, I’ve never been to Japan”, he says. “I have friends who live there and know it quite well”. I know I’m looking forward to hearing about his discoveries.
American born Kate Fensterstock is based in London and is part of the team at the leading marketing company Zambuni. Follow her on Twitter at @kjfensterstock.
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