No shortage of airtime on reality television has been devoted to the female-model runway walk. (In part because no shortage of airtime on reality television has been devoted to just finding a model show that will stick when it’s thrown on TV in the first place.) And so a lady’s catwalk has morphed into an enigma of the right posture, attitude, and hip sashay that come naturally to some blessed few and easily manifest in mass awkwardness for the rest, while those of us watching these girls walk back and forth often wonder who falls into which category. The oft-ignored male runway-model walk is no different: They don’t just show up and walk like they normally would on the street — there is work, training, craft involved. The best in the business combine posture, attitude, and putting one leg in front of the other to create a moment that either really makes you want to be them or want to have sex with them.
Male models, like all the ones we saw at Milan and Paris Men’s Fashion Weeks that wrapped over the weekend, often receive runway training from their agents, casting directors, and show producers. “A lot of the guys have really bad posture as it is,” explains casting director Douglas Perrett from COACD. “Why is that? Because they’re teenagers.” And crafting the right runway persona may have been more important for the male runway models this season than ever before, as a slew of slots in the coveted Prada show went to actors, not models. Apparently the Prada casting is already so cutthroat that models don’t know if they get to walk the show until moments before it actually happens. “There was controversy this season because it was actors taking models’ jobs,” says Pernett, who thought the final show, with appearances by Adrien Brody and Emile Hirsch, “just looked really messy.”
The male runway pros look anything but messy, even though European designers “almost like an awkward walk,” Perrett says — “that blase look, like you don’t care, you don’t want to be there, you want to get in and out, don’t smile, walk straight, make a left.” Male runway models of late tend to fit into two categories: hot and buff or pale and sinewy, depending on the show. “At a Michael Kors show they’re taught to look more sexy and give it more. Same with a Dolce show — they’re oozing that sex when they walk down the runway. But if you look at a Prada, Jil Sander, Calvin, it’s more the malnourished army.” (The sexy buff guys probably make more money, in case you’re wondering.)
I pressed Perrett to explain the concrete differences between the strong, sexy, buff walk and the walk of a malnourished soldier: “The strong, confident walk — it’s like you’re really trying, you’re really giving it, and you’re giving that sex and your hips are moving and you’re sucking in your cheeks a little bit and you’re eye-fucking everyone and you’re selling that jacket, you know?” (Do you?) “But the other shows, like the Paris shows or Raf Simons, you’ve got those boys you’ve never seen before and they all look like they’ve come from some prestigious boarding school and it’s their first time on the runway.”
With Douglas’s help, we compiled a reel of some of the best male models who walked in the most recent show season. Do enjoy.