Alex Raffio: “One of the biggest designers I’ve worked for has to be Dolce and Gabbana. I recently walked in their Men’s Haute Couture show in Portofino, Italy”
01 nov, 2015
It’s great to finally be a part of this family! Well, I’m a 26 year old from the suburbs of New York. I’m originally from Westchester, but went to school at Stony Brook University in Long Island where I studied engineering.
I was always a big sports guy growing up. I didn’t like watching sports (I have no idea who any player is, on any professional team), but I always played sports. At one point I was training to represent the U.S. in the 2012 Olympic trials, for decathlon. Unfortunately, regular injuries to my legs and back prevented me from competing.
Currently, I model full-time, get to travel the world, make great friends, and have incredible experiences with them along the way.
Modeling: how did all begin
After my track and field injury, I began body building. I ended up being found, on Facebook, by an associate of a former Americas Next Top Model judge. (The same person who discovered Sean O’pry actually.) I had a buzzcut at the time, so I had to grow out my hair, and lose a lot of the muscle I had gained. That took the better part of a year, but afterwards I began doing runway shows, and underwear campaigns.
I worked regularly for about a year, but then “retired” because modeling kept conflicting with my hectic class schedule. After I went to Grad school I started modeling full-time.
So far the best thing about modeling has been the traveling, and the awesome things I get to see and do, which I otherwise might not have the opportunity too.
Posing to photographers: having fun on set
I enjoy it when I can relate to a photographer on a personal level. I try to laugh and have some fun on set. Yes, its work, and we have a job to do. However, in this industry there’s always room for a few jokes in between shots.
I don´t have any particulary previous preparation. I always try to stay in shape, and be “photoshoot ready”. I guess if anything I’ll try and get a good night sleep before a shoot, just so I’m not yawning the entire time.
I’m very comfortable with my body. However, I try to avoid nude shoots because there are a lot of creepy photographers out there that just want to see you naked. If it’s for a big campaign or something that will significantly advance my career, I don’t mind being naked for a shoot. But, I’ve yet to find the photographer that has been able to convince me to bare it all. …Although many and more have tried.
The runway shows and its funny backstages´ moments
I was backstage at a runway show in China. And the russian female models started competing with each other, to see who could get the most attention from me and some of the other male models. It started getting kind of stripper-esque, until this really cute blonde model, wearing an all leather outfit, scaled the scaffolding and started doing body rolls and swinging around a poll 20 feet up in the air. It’s easy to say that she won the attention competition, because the other girls gave up after that. Lol
My first ever runway show was for Michael Bastian. And I had Poison Ivy all over my stomach, and on top of that had the week earlier bruised my heel teaching a Lifeguarding course. So I was limping around backstage trying desperately not to scratch or sweat, and the thick sweater they dressed me in was not helping.
I was also really nervous and had no idea what to expect when I got out there, because it was my first show Ever! When I hit the stage I forced myself to walk normally, as painful as that was, and ended up killing it.
Michael and his assistant at the time Antonio Ciongoli, both shook my hand afterward, and my photo even ended up being the cover shot for the article on GQ.com.
I’ve been lucky enough to have walked in over a hundred fashion shows over the years. One of the biggest designers I’ve worked for has to be Dolce and Gabbana. I recently walked in their Men’s Haute Couture show in Portofino, Italy. The show took place at the top of a mountain in an old castle, looking over all the sail boats in the port. The view was, for lack of a better word, breathtaking.
When I´m walking down the catwalk I just think Don’t trip, don’t trip, don’t trip. Lol. No I usually just try to remember to look straight ahead and keep my pace steady, and then it’s over in 15 seconds. There’s not much time to think about anything important.
Male models x Female models: who rule this business?
Women rule the business by far. There are significantly more job opportunities for female models, than there are for males. And the female jobs usually pay more. I know very few male models that don’t usually have some type of extra job on the side; catering, bartending, etc.
Concerning my fav models, I have a huge crush on Karlie Kloss. I think she’s absolutely stunning, and if you’re reading this Karlie give me a call. Or even better DM me on Instagram. IG: AlexRaffio
As far as male models for inspiration, I don’t really have any. This industry is more timing and luck than anything else. So there’s no one in particular I’d consider an idol. They just got luckier, or a very influential person liked them.
On fashion market for black models in USA
I’ve always heard that the industry is very orientated towards Caucasian models. But in the States, or at least New York, my black model friends work weekly, if not daily, especially in the commercial market. In the Asian markets though I know they still favor fair skinned models.
Alex´s style: a fashionista?
I have only recently tried to amp up my wardrobe. Usually it’s very sleek American prep, if that makes sense.
My go to will always be jeans and a t-shirt. Or shorts and a tank top in the summer. It’s always what I’ve just been most comfortable in.
Imagine u a famous model surrounded by a huge crowd!
So pretty much pretend that I’m Lucky Blue for a day? Haha. I’d smile and shake hands and take pictures. If it got to the point where it seemed to be getting dangerous, I would back away slowly, and try to make a graceful and respectful exit, as best I could.
On show business
It’s an amazing world that can give an individual experiences and a lifestyle unlike anything else. However, if you let it, it will completely consume you, and change who you are to your core. So it’s not something I recommend for everybody. It seems glamorous, and sometimes it is, but there’s a lot of evil in the industry as well.
Dating X Loving
Dating is tough, only because I travel quite a lot, and am never in one country, or one place, more than a few months. I fall in love way too easily. With friends, women, people in general. I always treat people like I’ve known them my entire life, even if I’ve only known them for a few hours.
I’m not as big into sports as now as when I was younger. Solely for the fact that I try to enjoy things and some people take a friendly game way too seriously, and ruin it for everybody else. Also, I now depend on my face and body for my source of income and lifestyle. So it’s not really worth taking the chance of getting injured just to play a game.
Superpowers and Superheroes
If I could have any superpower it would be to control and manipulate time. Then I could make myself and my loved ones immortal, and would be able to do whatever my mind could think of without any consequences.
I don’t have a favorite superhero per se, but I have become particularly fond of Captain America as of late. Probably because, whenever I travel, I’m usually one of the more muscular guys, and am more times than not the token American. So on one of my first trips to Asia, my friends said I looked like a brunette Captain America, and started calling me captain. Or, as my French roommate was prone to saying… Capitàn. Haha. The nickname has stuck with me ever since.
Dumbest thing you’ve ever heard a model say
There have been several dumb things I’ve heard models say over the years, but at the moment I can’t recall which was the dumbest. I try to avoid stupidity on any level, and attempt to surround myself only with intelligent and driven individuals. I’ve learned that if you want to better yourself, you should spend your time with those that want the same.
Atracting someone´s attention
It depends on whose attention I’m trying to get. If it’s a cute girl, I’ll do something different than if it’s a casting director. I usually don’t have a difficult time getting the attention of a room. I’m a big loud guy, that loves to laugh, and loves to make those around me laugh. Usually people notice me straight away.
Having fun,enjoying life
The way I have fun varies with each city that I’m in. When I was in Milan I would go down to the water with my buddies, get a couple of bottles of wine and just go exploring. In Paris, I hit up all the touristy spots whenever I had a day off. When I’m in New York, if I’m not bar-hopping on the lower east side, at a club in the meat packing district, or at central park, you can usually find me watching Netflix and relaxing in my apartment.
Craziest (nastiest?) thing in a summer time season
I ate scorpions and a snake in Asia. I guess some people would consider that nasty. And I also went skydiving and shark diving in the same summer as well. I actually almost lost my arm shark diving. I was in a cage surrounded by bull sharks, and they had been chumming the water to get the sharks in close.
I had a fish tail in my hand and was waving it back and forth trying to coax the shark in front of me to come closer. My hand was sticking out of the cage, and I didn’t see a big female shark swimming underneath me. The female came at me like a bullet and I pulled my hand back in just before she slammed into the cage. One of her teeth got knocked out when she hit the bar, I grabbed it before it sank, and now wear it around my neck.
Fav body part and and underwear for all moments
My smile for sure. I have always been told that my smile can lighten up a room, and people feed off of my energy. If I can change the way someone is feeling with a smile, then that’s a very powerful thing.
I’ve always been a boxer-briefs guy. They’re functional, comfortable, and I’ve never gotten any complaints from those select few who’ve been lucky enough to see me in them
Book, Music and Food
Well currently I’m reading the Game of Thrones Series. It’s a great read, and definitely helps kill time, when I’m waiting on set or traveling via train or car to castings.
I’ve never been a big favorites guy. But I do think that Adam Lambert has an absolutely incredible voice. I have several of his songs on my IPOD. My song selections though are all over the place I have everything from death metal to Miley Cyrus. I listen to different music depending on my mood or what I’m doing. Let’s just say, that I never use the shuffle option when listening to music, because I’d never know which song is coming up next.
My fav food is the Italian one. I recently was in Italy for a couple of months shooting and walking in Milan fashion week. I fell in love with the food and culture. Italy, is probably my favorite country in the world other than the States.
Nutella. I wish there was a Nutella Addicts Anonymous group, because I need help.
Earliest childhood memory
One of the first things I can remember was almost drowning at the age of 3. I was always the kid that could do anything and everything, even if I had never done it before. I’m still the same way; ask me to do something, and if I don’t currently have the skillset or knowledge to do it, I will in no time flat.
Well, I went to a summer camp and the lifeguard asked me if I could swim. I couldn’t at the time, but I of course said yes, and then proceeded to jump into the deep end of the pool. This is where I immediately sank to the bottom of the pool, and had to be rescued by the lifeguard when I didn’t re-surface.
I distinctly remember sitting at the bottom of the pool and looking up at the surface where I could see the sun reflecting in the water ripples I had just created when I hit the water. Then I thought to myself, “hmm, what do I do now?” After I was saved from my potential watery grave, I was so embarrassed, that I practiced in my grandmother’s pool for a week, and taught myself how to swim by the end of it.
Nickname in school
In college everyone called me beast when I was bodybuilding, because I was just monstrously huge for a 20 year old kid.
An unforgettable moment
I used to be an AmeriCorps member, and worked with the Adapted Aquatics program at my Alma Mater. One patient I worked with was a 12 year boy named David. He had suffered from a seizure in-utero, which resulted in brain damage. At the age when he hit puberty, he had the mental capacity of a 4 year old with severe ADHD, and various physical limitations. I worked with him every week to increase his muscle strength, dexterity, and fine motor skills.
We always worked in the pool to take away the stress of gravity on his joints. As a result of his condition, David was obsessed with the color red, and the letter A. And regularly he attempted to steal the red lifeguard tube that was mounted on the wall, much to his mother’s dismay.
So on the last day that we worked together; I went out and purchased him his own custom Lifeguard tube with his name on it. When I presented it to him, he was so overwhelmed he began to cry, and then so did his mother. When I hugged him goodbye it took a lot not to start shedding tears myself. That’s definitely a moment I will always carry with me.
Yourself in 10 years
In 10 years, I’d like to see myself with an adoring wife, a couple of beautiful children, and a house near the beach with a smile on my face more times than not.
If you weren´t a model you´d be…
An Astronaut. But sadly they’re not sending any Americans to outer space… for now.
I’m flying out to Shanghai in a couple of weeks for a 3 month contract, and will probably end up in Thailand or South Africa after that. So I’m pretty excited about what’s to come in the next several months. Also in Midtown Manhattan a store called, “The Shirt Club”, is opening next month, and supposedly there will be a floor to ceiling billboard of yours truly in the store. So I’ll have to take my selfie with that when I return from abroad. lol
“I’m always happy to help” Anyone that has known me even for a day, has probably heard me say that. If you need something, and it’s within my power to help you with it, consider it done.
And when you´ll come to my world buddy?
The second I can get signed with a Brazilian agency, I’m there!!!!
Agency: Joy Model Management Milano http://www.joymodels.com/
Interview by Ed, the Brazilian editor