A Way of Life
We catch up with model-extraordinaire Aurelien Muller and chat about his journey in life, his rising career and his philosophy on modeling
“SOCIAL MEDIA IS LIKE A WINDOW TO YOUR WAY OF LIFE. YOU HAVE TO SHOW YOUR TRUE IDENTITY AND WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE”
Aurelien Muller was part of the premiere issue of DAMAN Style, and now he’s back again for a special fashion spread shot on Indonesia’s Island of the Gods. For sure, the Frenchborn model has been an inspiration: He has found steady work with Dolce & Gabbana as well as various other notable names in fashion; he’s posed together with the likes of Taylor Swift; and meanwhile, his social media presence tells the tale of a well-travelled gentleman who is always on adventure. That being said, his approach to modeling remains almost philosophical. He often muses about being true to himself and treating his vocation as a way of life.
DAMAN: Awesome to have you here with us again since the premiere issue of DAMAN Style in the fall of 2014. Can you tell us some of the major highlights of your career since then?
Aurelien Muller: So, I shot a campaign for Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana and then shot an editorial with Taylor Swift for Vanity
Fair. And then, obviously there’s the Dolce & Gabbana campaign, the Furla campaign with Mario Testino. I shot with Bruce Weber for Vogue Hommes. It has been a good journey so far.
DA: Let’s talk about your work for Dolce & Gabbana. What do you think was it that the brand saw in you when they picked you for their shows and campaigns?
AM: Obviously, I feel lucky and fortunate because that’s the brand that I was aiming for when I started out. I don’t know, maybe it was the energy between me and them, so everything clicked right away.
DA: You’ve worked with Dolce & Gabbana for four years now. What would you say has been the most memorable runway show or ad campaign that you’ve done for the brand?
AM: I would say, probably, when they first booked me for this cosmetic campaign and just before this, I closed their runway show. It was a big deal, because closing the show means you’re the main guy in the brand. I was very fortunate.
DA: Speaking of which, you often hear about rivalries among actors, musicians, athletes and so on. Is this something that’s also common in the modeling world?
AM: No. I mean, I wouldn’t say that. It’s just about, you know, enjoyment. This is not a business for us; it’s a way of life. It’s just opportunities after opportunities, and you just take it one after the other. It’s not a competition at all. I mean, at least I don’t feel that it is.
DA: What would be the next career milestone that you’d like to reach next?
AM: Well, it wasn’t my idea at first, but people around me are pushing me to become an actor. Which is quite flattering, obviously. They even pushed me to take classes. I met Bruce Weber again two months ago and he told me: “You have to do your acting lessons.” He has been pushing me to his friends. He knows a dancing teacher and a dialect teacher and so on. So, I might go in this direction and it would be my next goal.
DA: What do you consider to be your most notable or unique physical characteristic?
AM: Well, I can’t really tell. I mean, I’m very commercial in a way, so people probably like my smile. And I work out a lot. [ Laughs] In a way, it’s very flattering when people like my body and the way I look because it’s a way of life. It’s pretty hard work. You really can’t ask me this kind of question, you have to ask other people about this. [ Laughs] DA: You’ve been modeling for more than half a decade; you’ve walked on numerous high-profile runways; and now you’re
doing a shoot half a world away from where it all started. When you consider all this, what goes through your mind?
AM: Well, it’s not 5 years, actually; it’s three and a half years. It went really quick and I like the fact that it went really quick. But sometimes I look back and I’m like: “Wow, it’s almost four years. What did I do?” It went so fast, you know, and sometimes I feel I’m missing out with my family because I’m traveling a lot. But sometimes I feel that I’ve done a lot as well. I’ve achieved a lot of goals in every part of my life and I still have a lot of goals to achieve. It’s kind of freaky, but at the same time I can look back and say: “Yeah, I’ve done some crazy things.”
DA: What’s your current state of mind right now?
AM: When it comes to my state of mind it’s always the same: Enjoy as much as you can; you’re very, very fortunate right now and just have no regrets. It’s funny because I was reading this interview and I’ve got the exact same spirit when I did the interview with DAMAN three years ago.
DA: Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
AM: Wow, that’s a tricky question. Hopefully in a sunny place and surrounded by my loved ones, family and closest friends. Basically— and hopefully—still doing what I love.
DA: Who is your biggest role model?
AM: My biggest role model would be my dad, because of all that he went through in his life and for what he’s done for the four of us, for the kids and for me as well.
DA: On the flip side, we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there are people who consider you to be their role model. What would be your top three tips for new models aspiring to be like you?
AM: First, you don’t have to take this business too seriously. Like I said, it’s not a job; it’s opportunity after opportunity. And then, just have a very positive energy all the time. And don’t be too arrogant; your reputation precedes you at some point. So, just be friendly to everyone. Be irreplaceable, because if you’re irreplaceable no one can change you. And don’t try to imitate anyone because everyone is already taken.
DA: What would be a fashion essential that you simply can’t live without?
AM: Unfortunately, I don’t have any. Maybe a watch. I don’t know why but I just begun looking into watches. Maybe it’s because I’m a grown up man and I like a grown up man toys. I’m not into cars right now, maybe because I don’t need one; but for me, a watch is a new element that I would say fits a man. It’s a good toy.
DA: What is your number one pet peeve when it comes to how people— particularly men— dress themselves these days?
AM: Well, I have to say that I don’t like socks with flip-flops, but sometimes I see my dad wearing it. I don’t want to have an argument with my dad. Who am I to judge, anyway?
DA: Looking at your Instagram account, and considering where this shoot is taking place, it looks like you enjoy traveling quite a lot. What are some of your favorite destinations and why?
AM: I love every destination I’ve been to so far and Bali is one of the greatest islands I’ve ever been to. This is my first time in Asia and I’m sure if I’m going next time, it’s going to Vietnam or Laos. But right now, Bali is my favorite destination—until I find the next one.
DA: Speaking of Instagram, however, do you think that your social media presence plays a role in your career?
AM: That’s a good question. It’s a new business now. I think, even when I meet clients they know me better from my Instagram than my look book. So, they know how they want me to look and they can just show me a picture from my Instagram. They don’t even go through my look book anymore. You have to be careful now about what you post. Even though you don’t have to hide your identity, you have to be yourself. Social media is like a window to your way of life. You have to show your true identity and what you look like. If the client likes it, they will book you; if it’s not a match, they will not book you. It’s a different game now. It’s like you go more into someone without even meeting him. Sometimes you don’t have an idea until you meet this person. On Instagram maybe he’s more social but when you meet him in person he’s very shy. And sometimes it’s the opposite. Somebody might not even be on social media but when you meet him he’s the best person on Earth. And I know my followers don’t like it when I post editorial pictures or campaign pictures, because it’s not me—it’s not my natural self. They like raw pictures more. You could take a selfie in the morning when you’re just waking up and they would love it.
DA: Other than keeping a good social media presence, what does it take to be a successful male model?
AM: For me social media is like a reality show. And if you want to be a male model, you have to play. For me, though, a super male model is like a movie star while social media is a reality show. A male model has to have hidden part. You have to keep this fantasy and don’t show everything.
DA: What are some of the biggest things that most people still get wrong about how modeling actually works?
AM: Even my brother and sister think it’s all glamorous, with champagne everywhere like in a fantasy world. I mean, in a way, it is. I’m doing an interview in Bali right now, right? But some jobs are very difficult. You could be shooting in a forest during winter, and you have to change and get naked in that forest while there are insects everywhere and it’s raining. Most of the time, it’s not glamorous at all. Or you could suddenly gain a lot weight. You always wonder if you have to change something about you, or if you have to mingle more, or if you have to stay home more. You have to play with these kinds of parameters. DA: On that note, are there any aspects of the modeling and fashion industry that you wish you could change?
AM: That’s hard question. I love the way it works right now. For me, I don’t see the industry at all. On my side, I’m just an employee for client, for one day. And then I jump to the next side. I’m on the good side, I think.
DA: Do you have a motto, a favorite saying or quote that you’ve always followed?
AM: I have a few. My favorite ones would be “be the hardest working person in the room and everything will follow” and “don’t call it a dream, called it a plan.”
“A MALE MODEL HAS TO HAVE HIDDEN PART. YOU HAVE TO KEEP THIS FANTASY AND DON’T SHOW EVERYTHING”