Meet the Male Model Who Stole the Show at Saint Laurent

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Anthony Vaccarello’s first collection for Saint Laurent didn’t lack for attention-grabbing moments, but one of the most compelling was the appearance of a male model alongside the designer’s longtime muses. Joining Anja Rubik and Freja Beha Erichsen on the runway was David Friend, an artist and aspiring designer signed to Ford Models. Friend, who worked as an assistant to stylist Sean Knight, usually engages with fashion from behind the scenes, helping to put together looks for photo shoots or musicians such as Tinashe and Alice Glass. But from growing up on a Florida farm to working behind the scenes in fashion and, now, stepping into the spotlight at Saint Laurent, Friend’s path has been an unusual one. “My sister and I always wanted to create stuff, and we first started by thinking up concepts for shoots and then I usually modeled—it escalated from there,” said Friend postshow via email. “It was an honor, and I’m appreciative of the opportunity given to me by Piergiorgio [Del Moro]’s team and YSL.”

It’s rare for a male model to be as knowledgeable about style as Friend. Though they may wear fashion-forward looks for work, most of the boys you see on the catwalk prefer low-key jeans and T-shirts off duty. Friend, meanwhile, is on the opposite end of the spectrum: The transparent blouse he sported at Saint Laurent resembled an elevated version of the offbeat, gender-neutral designs he wears in real life. Filling his Instagram with tongue-in-cheek photos, Friend regularly shares shots of himself in pieces from Vetements or Gucci—or in his own creations. “I sew, style, and shoot film photography. I’m most passionate about design, but I have a lot of fun with all of them,” said Friend. “I like ugly things that look good. They shouldn’t, yet you can’t help but be like ‘Wow, that’s cool—stupid and gross, yet still cool.’” That sensibility guides his approach to social media as a whole, so don’t expect to see any overly filtered selfies in his feed. “I want to be real even online,” he said. “I post anything I create or find witty; it’s all about creative wittiness for me. I just want people to vibe with me the same way they do in real life, so I try to be myself.”

Being himself has grabbed the attention of casting directors and designers, while allowing him to pursue his interests outside of fashion, too. Friend has next set his sights on Berlin (“I’ve heard great things about the artist community there”), but meanwhile he’s content to let this new chapter unfold. “There are lots of people and companies I’d like to work with, but since it’s not in my power, I don’t stress it,” says Friend. “I’ll let it take me where it takes me—honestly, every moment has been exciting!”

 

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