While the fashion industry has impressively produced branded products and familiar household commercial faces, it has simultaneously opened doors to the mushrooming integer of aspiring live mannequins. The glamorous and fascinating world of modeling has beguilingly inveigled a huge number of females that introduced and ultimately changed the lifestyles of millions.
More than just the face and body to behold, models became iconic images that greatly influence not only the fashion industry but also related social and commercial entities. Female models dominated the field as early as the 1850s as initiated by Marie Vernel Worth, wife of the Father of Haute Couture Charles Federick Worth and since then live mannequins came into being (after being merely studio and photographic models) due to the great demand to promote, display, advertise, or pose as visual aids for creative arts, especially clothing.
Then came Lisa Fonseca (who invaded the covers of Vogue Magazine for over 200 times), Claudia Schiffer, Linda Evangelista, Christie Brinkley, Cindy Crawford, and Twiggy. Later on, the names Kate Moss, Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, Gisele Bundchen, Miranda Kerr, Adriana Lima, Kendall Jenner, and many others still earned their own spots in the already jam-packed world of fashion modeling
The creation of modeling agencies (like Ford, Wilhelmina, Elite, Friday’s, Cal-Carries, and the like) easily paved several avenues for models worldwide. But the fashion arena was still in need of “other players” to totally paint an absolute scenario of what fashion is all about – thus the inevitable demand and sudden emergence of full-pledged male models.
The modern social and cultural evolutions created a huge opportunity for aspiring live male mannequins to utilize their physical potentials to the extreme while earning fat paychecks and getting the best exposures. Being a lucrative job, male modeling also takes its course to where females had gone: fashion campaigns, print ads, ramp modelling, becoming spokespersons, and billboards.
Caught in the topsy-turvy web of the modeling craze back in 2010 was Filipino-Swedish Devon Spence who entered frame when male models were already prominent figures in the field. Born in Kissemmee, Florida (January 14) to William Spence and Jennifer Hylander Spence, Devon is the eldest among three siblings.
For male models, the standard height set by the British Association of Model Agents was from at least 5’11” (180 cm.) to 6’2” (189 cm.), with a waistline of 29-32” (73.66 cm. to 81.28 cm.) and chest of 39-40” (99.06 cm -101.60 cm.).
Towering at six feet and weighs 170 lbs., Devon easily meets the criteria while aptly armed with a firm determination to be an accomplished model and actor. His sharply sculptured bone structure that could “cut” diamonds, dark brown hair, and hazel eyes are easy passport to his claim to fame.
Having walked the runway or posed for print ad for Ralph Lauren, Nike, Old Navy, Original Penguin, L’Uomo Vogue, Ermenegildo Zegna, Aeropostale, American Eagle, Adidas, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Alternative Apparel, Illustrado, Cole Haan, and Bench aside from gracing the glossy pages of popular periodicals such as Viet Beauty Magazine, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, Fantastic Magazine, MMSCENE, and Philippine Tatler, Devon feels having not yet attained what he really aimed for — a campaign ad for a branded fragrance.
“Every model feels accomplished once given a fragrance campaign project. Imagine the huge publicity, not to mention the pay, one gets from billboards, magazine spreads, TV, and store standees,” Devon said, sounding high spirited with a tone of optimism. “You’ll notice that the model’s face and name are directly associated with promoted fragrance. “
Aside from having that rare opportunity to wear top-of-the-line designers’ clothing, working with staggeringly gorgeous-looking people, and meeting influential personalities, modeling has taken Devon to places unimaginable to him: Canada, Barcelona, the Philippines, and almost all key cities in the USA.
Given a suitable time frame and his most obsessed fragrance campaign the moniker Devon Spence won’t only be a household name but at par with such gigantic luminaries in the fashion world like David Gandy (Dolce & Gabbana), Michael Bergin (Calvin Klein), Mark Vanderloo (Guess), Tyson Beckford (Polo RL), Alex Lundqvist (Versace & Hugo Boss), Brad Kroenig (Chanel), Sean O’Pry (Armani), and other big name male product endorsers.
Simple and down-to-earth, success hasn’t gotten into Devon’s head. “I don’t usually splurge on branded names. I’m just being practical but not really tight-fisted or a compulsive shopper. But when I go out to socialize I have to be what people expect of me (as a model) so I put on branded wardrobe,” the low-key male mannequin expounded assertively.
Aware of the perils and hidden dangers of being a model, Devon is sentient about exploitation cases, sexual harassment, lurid tales behind photo shoots, and that his profession doesn’t guarantee massive wealth, sound health, and even security.
For a better analysis of Devon Spence’s unadulterated individuality, let’s scrutinize the raison d’être he gave to justify the following pertinent questionnaire:
Asian Journal (AJ): Why did you embark on a modeling career? What interested you?
Devon Spence (DS): I actually never had an interest in modeling. I was in college at that time changing my major each semester because I didn’t really know what I wanted. I was a member of the school’s Theater of Arts Society, Multi-Cultural Student Association, and Student Government. My sister was the one who started modeling and my Mom found my long time friend, John Fisher, who got me signed up with Front Management, now my mother agency. I thought since I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be, modeling could be a good opportunity and something new to try and explore.
AJ: Did you attend formal training or any related course in modeling?
DS: It’s funny looking back at my first ever runway where I was allowed to choose my outfit and I’ll be the first to say: “I did not have style.” But I remember how cool I felt. I learned a bit from modeling school but not everything was taught. I learned much more in the real world and picked up quite some bits-and-pieces from veterans.
AJ: Who discovered you and gave you your maiden exposure?
DS: My sister dragged me into it…Mom was my strongest support…John Fisher found me and got me signed…but it was Christian Alexander who developed me. And everyone has been there supporting me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their guidance.
AJ: What was your status before you landed your first modeling job?
DS: The start was tough. It was my first time having my own place and for six months I did catering, bartending, valet graveyard shifts, and danced on the streets to meet rent each month. During that time, I was introduced to Bruce Weber (famous fashion photographer and model discoverer) to whom I owe so much. Then my first campaign began here with Hollister.
AJ: What are your goals as a model? Have you seen yourself getting progress in this field?
DS: First I tried to be a good role model before anything. Modeling has been a huge stepping stone towards my acting career where I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far after having done a movie, a few short films, and a TV guesting.
AJ: Do you have any limitations as a model? How far could you go if total body exposure is required?
DS: Total body exposure isn’t a must to be successful but it certainly helps open more opportunities. Choosing carefully which brand to allow yourself to be in a birthday suit if you don’t have a good team planning for a long term goal. If we are talking about something more x-rated, then count me out. I’ll do something sexy but tastefully done and sells but not sell myself for a contemptible taste.
AJ: How do you feel or react when the outfits assigned to you are not to your liking or preference?
DS: It doesn’t matter if I like it or not. I’m there to do my job and sell what’s put on me. I’ll find a way to like it and make it look good and viable.
AJ: How long do you think will you last in the modeling industry?
DS: I’ll last until I give up. I might be doing Viagra ads when I’m sixty (lol) but seriously I will have moved on by then…deeper into film and as a TV actor.
AJ: As a model, do you think what you are paid could be enough for sustenance?
I have my father and mother to thank on money management. I do very well with what I earned. I know how to stretch a dollar.
AJ: What preparations do you do before a photoshoot?
DS: I workout the night before, check on my fingernails and toenails, have a fresh haircut, eyebrow check, restful sleep, shower, drink lots of water, and a healthy breakfast.
AJ: Currently, what do you still aim for? What are your future plans?
DS: Aside from having a huge fragrance campaign, I see myself working on the big screen. I frequently have dreams being on the set working with Jim Carrey. I hope that one day I’ll have my own house where I could host Thank You parties for everyone I’ve met along my journey.
Note: Thanks to celebrity photographer Filbert Diego Kung for having acted as an unpredicted linkage to Devon Spence and for all the photos I used in this column.
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