From Behind the Curtains

Jacob Bixenman takes us behind the scenes of the big­gest fash­ion shows and the in­spir­ing life a ris­ing male model

DA MAN - Style - - Designer - Pho­tog­ra­phy Mitchell Nguyen Mccor­mack - Styling Suzi Re­zler

Have you ever won­dered what a ma­jor run­way show by a ma­jor fash­ion brand looks like from the per­spec­tive of those actually walk­ing down the run­ways? How were they cho­sen? What do models actually do dur­ing a big fash­ion show? Shar­ing his behind-the-scenes per­spec­tives with DA MAN Style is Jacob Bixenman. While he isn’t exactly a vet­eran model, his ca­reer so far has been more than re­mark­able with gigs for brands the likes of Dolce & Gab­bana, Adi­das, Stella McCart­ney and more. And, of course, his first cou­ple of years as a pro­fes­sional model makes quite an en­gag­ing story.

DAMAN: Hi, Jacob, awe­some to have you with us. So, what have you been busy with lately?

Jacob Bixenman: Hey, thanks for hav­ing me! Just busy with work, a few creative projects, and en­joy­ing the sum­mer at the mo­ment.

DA: Look­ing at how 2017 has gone so far, what would you say has been the great­est ex­pe­ri­ence for this year?

JB: It’s hard to say. I’ve got­ten to work with some re­ally in­spired and creative peo­ple who are killing their games this year, which have all been spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ences in them­selves. Spend­ing time in Europe for the fash­ion weeks this sum­mer was also great. It was the long­est I’d been away from home and I learned a lot about my­self and how to travel well.

DA: Let’s talk about you walk­ing on the run­way of Dolce & Gab­bana a cou­ple of months ago. What do you re­mem­ber most about it?

JB: I mostly re­mem­ber the speed that ev­ery­thing hap­pened at, and be­ing sur­prised at how big of a pro­duc­tion the show was. It was a re­ally large cast and un­like other shows I’ve been in. Also, it was my first time work­ing with [Bri­tish make-up artist] Pat McGrath, who’s a total leg­end. That was fun.

DA: What was the cast­ing process like for a show of this mag­ni­tude?

JB: I had flown into Milan that morn­ing and was pretty beat after a day of cast­ings, but my agency called and told me to run by the Dolce & Gab­bana of­fices. It was hot and hu­mid at the time, so I re­mem­ber be­ing a mess. But I headed over, threw in a piece of gum, splashed some water on my face and met with the cast­ing di­rec­tor. We talked for a bit, took dig­i­tals and I walked for him. Ei­ther the next day or a few days later, I came back for a fit­ting and met the designers, who tried a few dif­fer­ent looks on me be­fore con­firm­ing my look and send­ing me to re­hearsal that night. The show was the next day.

“Per­son­al­ize or mod­ern­ize some­thing Classic rather than Chase a mo­ment”

DA: Speak­ing of cast­ings, how do you usually pre­pare your­self be­fore going to one? Again, espe­cially for some­thing as big as a Dolce & Gab­bana show…

JB: It de­pends on the na­ture of the cast­ing, but for the most part I try just to be my­self and not think much about it. Con­fi­dence and kind­ness go far, espe­cially when you’re in a room sur­rounded by to­tally qual­i­fied peo­ple. Just be chill, do your best, and let them get to know you.

DA: What do you think is the one thing most peo­ple get wrong about how a proper fash­ion show is run?

JB: There’s so much prepa­ra­tion and wait­ing around at ev­ery show. Which is funny, con­sid­er­ing how lit­tle ac­tual time you spend walk­ing. For maybe a minute of time in front of ev­ery­one, there are hours of behind-the-scenes, sit­ting around while peo­ple fix hair and makeup and ad­just the clothes, etc. Other than that, it’s sim­i­lar to what peo­ple would ex­pect.

DA: By the way, could you tell us a bit about how you got started as a pro­fes­sional model?

JB: Sure. I was scouted on­line by my New York agency who put me in con­tact with the L.A. of­fice where I got signed. From there, I signed in New York and started work­ing be­tween the two, be­fore re­cently sign­ing abroad.

DA: If mod­el­ing didn’t work out for you back then— or if you had sim­ply de­cided to do go on a dif­fer­ent path—what do you think would you be do­ing right now? JB: I’m sure I’d be do­ing the same things that I am do­ing now, just with some ex­tra time to fo­cus. Maybe film school.

DA: What was the first big sur­prise to hit you early on that

made you go, “Oh, so this is what it means to be a model”?

JB: One of the big­gest learn­ing curves was un­der­stand­ing how to han­dle an­tic­i­pa­tion and re­jec­tion. Most of mod­el­ing is based on sub­jec­tive cri­te­ria of cer­tain cast­ing di­rec­tors, clients and so on. I’ve been on hold for amaz­ing jobs that didn’t work out and I’ve gone to cast­ings for jobs that I didn’t think I had a chance at but ended up get­ting con- firmed for. You even­tu­ally sur­ren­der to it and learn that your job is to just be your­self and work hard. But it takes a minute to un­der­stand.

DA: What do you re­mem­ber the most about the very first fash­ion shoot that you did?

JB: The first ma­jor shoot that I did was with Peter Lind­bergh for In­ter­view mag­a­zine and I re­mem­ber be­ing be­yond ex­cited and ner­vous the night be­fore. I didn’t know what to ex­pect work­ing with a pho­tog­ra­pher of that cal­iber and it ended up be­ing such a fun day/crew. It was a sort of beat­nik, West-Vil­lage-inthe-sixties story and I had on this Burberry mesh tank with my hair slicked back. It was cool. DA: What was the shoot or show that re­ally put you on the map? JB: It’s hard to say. I think ev­ery­thing that I’ve done has put me in po­si­tion for what’s come next, so it’s been more of a grad­ual ex­pe­ri­ence than a big, sin­gu­lar mo­ment.

DA: How about the shoot with the most ex­cit­ing lo­cale?

JB: I shot an Adi­das cam­paign this season that was in this air­plane grave­yard in the desert. They were all scrapped and de­funct like some­thing out of a zom­bie movie. It was re­ally cool.

“one oF the Big­gest learn­ing Curves was un­der­stand­ing how to han­dle an­tiC­i­Pa­tion and re­jeC­tion”

DA: Be­sides mod­el­ing, have you ever thought about ex­pand­ing into other parts of fash­ion? De­sign­ing, per­haps? Or styling?

JB: I’m by no means a de­signer or stylist, but I def­i­nitely en­joy be­ing creative in that way. I actually col­lab­o­rated with the New York work­wear brand Peels on a few shirts fea­tur­ing some of my art­work ear­lier this year and am about to launch a few T-shirts with sketches of my own. I love cloth­ing and am cre­atively down for what­ever if it hap­pens nat­u­rally.

DA: Who do you con­sider your role models?

JB: My friends, for sure. I’m con­stantly im­pressed by the kind, creative, funny peo­ple around me. DA: We’ve seen your run­way looks and we’ve seen you in photo shoots. Now, how would you de- scribe your off-set, un­planned, day-to- day look? JB: Tem­per­a­men­tal, but usually quite com­fort­able.

DA: All in all, though, do you en­joy work­ing as a full­time pro­fes­sional model?

JB: Yeah, I do. I feel re­ally, re­ally lucky to be sur­rounded by cre­ativ­ity and able to see the world in the ca­pac­ity that I do.

DA: What would be your top three styling tips for men?

JB: Take your time. Be se­lec­tive and turn find­ing cloth­ing into a hobby. A lot of my fa­vorite items are finds from thrift stores and ran­dom spots, but you have to be will­ing to look with­out any guar­an­tees. It’s a lot of trial and er­ror, but fun if you let it be.

In gen­eral, per­son­al­ize or mod­ern­ize some­thing classic rather than chase a mo­ment. You’ll get more life out of your cloth­ing and won’t look dated. That be­ing said, don’t be afraid to push your lim­its and ex­plore.

Do your thing. Ig­nore styling tips. Wear what makes you feel best.

DA: Be­sides your work, what else are you pas­sion­ate about?

JB: Dogs, dive bars, [singer] El­liott Smith, writ­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy, pro­cras­ti­nat­ing, equal­ity, Cuban food and [actor] Larry David.

DA: When, where or with whom are you the hap­pi­est?

JB: Re­ally any time or place spent with the peo­ple that I love or make me laugh the most. Otherwise, nat­u­ral spots around Cal­i­for­nia like Yosemite or Mal­ibu. Those are some of the most mag­i­cal places to me. DA: Do you have a fa­vorite phrase, quote or say­ing that best sums up your life? JB: “Live to the point of tears,” by Al­bert Ca­mus.

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