Todd Darling Interview

Former model Todd Darling was signed with Boss (USA) /Karin Men (Paris) and was photographed by top photographers like Tony Duran and Mark Liddell, now he's very kind to share memories and pictures about his modelling career.

First of all, why did you stop modelling?

There were a lot of reasons I stopped modelling. I got into it in my mid 20's, which is late to start, I did it for a few years - saw the world - made some friends - had some fun. But as I’ve said - it's also hard work.

I remember the busiest month I ever did. I changed countries over 20 times in 31 days. (I kept count - it was actually something like 28 border crossings but I didn't stay in every country I travelled through) I was sleeping on trains between Paris and Milan three and four nights in a row. I'd run into the hotel I stayed in when I was in Milan and ask at the desk who was in that I knew and then wake them up and have a shower and run to a job. Then I'd finish the job and run back to the train station sleep on the train and run to my hotel in Paris for a change of clothes and another shower before I headed to another job.

So the reasons varied from just having had enough of that life style - to not being able to maintain my health. I'd had a pretty severe car accident when I was 18 which took years to recover from - which is why I wasn't doing anything else when I met Tony Duran. It's one of the reasons I had such good muscle tone when I started modelling. I was working out to help heal my body. The longer I worked as a model and lived out of a suitcase the less time I had to maintain my health. In the end it all got too much and I needed a change.

"Thai Land", ph: Tony Duran

Were you interested in fashion before that day when Tony Duran suggested you to be a model?

Yes I'd always liked fashion - I had several friends who were models and make up artists etc. Fashion is a bit frivolous but it’s also creative and a form of self expression. What can I say I’ve always liked clothes. :)

Tell me more about working with Tony Duran, he has turned into a big, important fashion & celebrity photographer, how was it to work with him?

Well to begin, in my opinion, he's one of the greatest photographers in the world. I used to have problems with people - they'd see my card - with the head shot Tony did - and then meet me and get a shock at what I really looked liked. I was never really great looking. I had an "interesting" look that Tony and a few other photographers managed to get some really interesting photos from. I don't think I was easy to photograph - Tony taught me a lot about how to model. What worked for me or didn't. I liked Tony a lot - he worked hard and got good results.

Tony Duran - B&W

Headshot card, Australian Style Magazine, Australian Style Magazine

"I met Tony Duran in Sydney in the early 1990’s in a shop and he asked me if I'd thought about modelling. He did a test and then a shoot for Australian Style and I was in Paris doing shows about 3 weeks later" .- Todd Darling

How were you signed with Boss Models, it was one of the most famous modeling agencies in the 90's.

I was with Men of Karin in Paris and it was summer show season. I met one of their representatives and they signed me. I think at one point I has 17 agencies world wide I met most of them through my French agency during show season. I mostly lived in Paris and worked through Paris and Milan - I spent very little time in New York because my book and my look was more European.

How would you define your life as model?

Mostly life as a model is a bunch of strangers, who are all very tall and just happen to be reasonably good looking, sharing rooms, living in each others back pockets, helping each other out where you can and getting the job done.

I would walk around Paris, Milan or New York etc with a couple of guys from whatever hotel I was staying at or some friends if I’d been lucky enough to run into them. We'd do castings all day. We'd start early and continue late. (I remember I once did a fitting for Romeo Gigli at about 3am the night before his show.)

Then we'd start again the next day hoping that at some point the day before we'd got a job so we could pay the rent and eat. I've done castings and go see's for days solid and not booked a job from it and I was one of the lucky ones who worked regularly.

Life as a Model is a life of rejection. Most of the time it’s all about being told - you’re too tall, to short, to blonde or not blonde enough or that you just don’t have that particular thing that they’re looking for. There’s almost always someone who is younger, prettier, has a better body or a better book.

It’s one of the reasons I almost never suggest people get into modelling unless they just don’t have anything better to do. You have to be very secure within yourself to handle it and most people aren’t. Although, in my experience, the negatives tend effect young girls far more than the guys.

What made you a successful model? The look, personality ...

Luck. - No joke. I met Tony in a photographic lab - that was luck. He shot some great test shots and 3 magazine stories in about 3 weeks after I met him. Those photos became the core of my book. I was then lucky enough to have other great photographers choose to work with me too.

At a personal level I'd say - Firstly I have no shame, I just don't have the gene for embarrassment. Secondly I enjoyed the work. I think you have got to adopt an attitude when modelling - you have to love it and you have to want to be doing it. I did and it worked for me.

Advertising: Dominique Morlotti, QVB, Gianni Versace, Midali

Your features are very interesting, you could play Jesus in a movie, has anyone ever told you that?

Well maybe 15 years ago :) - funny enough I did a French show - I think it was Dominique Morlotti and he put me in a loin cloth and a vest. I hit the runway and he got a standing ovation from the crowd for his outfit. I had a newspaper clipping with a photo for years but can't find it at the moment. It said something like Jesus doing runway work. It was pretty funny.

What is your heritage/ethnic background?

I'm Anglo Saxon. British heritage - mostly English and some Irish thrown in. According to my aunt who did a family tree there is some Tonga islander thrown in about 7 generations back too.

What was your best/memorable photo shoot? that one that you never will forget.

Too many to count. I have a lot of great memories from a lot of shoots. Some are because I met some nice people. Others are because I got to see some amazing places. Mauritius island for Italian Max magazine stands out for both reasons. I loved the place and we were working two different stories with Mark Liddell who is an amazing photographer - Sebastian, the female model I was working with, was a really wonderful person and we had some fun doing things like kayaking around the resorts lagoon while they were shooting the other models on the other story. The other models from the other story were also memorable - we were staying at an Italian resort on the island and Scott the other male Model sang for the other guests one evening. The other female model and I became pretty good friends too.

Editorial: Italian Harper's Bazaar, Italian Max (with female model Sebastian) by Mark Liddell, "Mauritius" - Italian Max by Mark Liddell, photographed by Juli Balla

From all the countries visited, what was your favourite location?

Another hard one - but I'd have to say Stockholm Sweden in the middle of winter, Ice on the bridges and foot long Icicles hanging from the overhangs of buildings. -16 degrees C and doing castings in the dark at 4 in the afternoon, it stands out because the people were great and the environment so opposite anything I'd ever experienced.

What did you enjoy more, print or runway?

I couldn't choose - that the honest truth. It's two different jobs. But I loved doing them both.

What about Gianni Versace? tell us something about catwalking for him.

I remember at one point my dressers only spoke Italian and so couldn’t understand me - I ended up hitting the runway with my shoe laces undone. It's hard to look good when your afraid you are about to fall flat on your face.

On a side note - I actually fitted Mr Versace's summer collection once - I spent hours with him and a group of dressers while they worked out what outfits the models would wear. What worked with what etc. I didn't know Mr Versace very well - but one thing I'd like to say is that he had an incredible joy in his designs and a great love of life. I remember him because he seemed to be the epitome of a man who found what he loved in life and turned it into a career – I admired him for that.

Tony Duran - Color

unknown info, Tony Duran test, Australian Studio For Men

Did you make friends with other models?
Yes - I made a lot of friends and a few close friends, I even fell in love once or twice. Though contrary to popular belief just because you are a male model doesn’t mean you get to meet a lot of female models.

Men’s and Women’s show seasons are separate so unless you do some photos with some girls or meet them at your agency or your hotel - meeting female models wasn’t easy. I fell in love with a girl I met at my agency once – it never went anywhere but some very fond memories of holding hands at the movies and talking all night about the strangest things. She was also the queen of Vegemite Toast. :)

I also remember a friend being silly at the Barcelona fashion week. She was a truly stunning young French woman who modelled for elite in Paris – I met her through an Australian model who also modelled for Elite at the house they both stayed at.

I was sitting with a group of guys talking between shows when she walked over and gave me a hug. One of the guys asked her how we knew each other and she decided to tease them and with her beautiful French accent said. “Todd and I are lovers” she headed off a bit later and I came clean and told the guys she was stirring them and I only knew her through a mutual friend. (stirring is Australian for teasing) I mention it only because I was amazed by the guys reactions. Not because what she had said – but because I actually knew her.

Also one August in Barcelona stands out because we worked so little and had such a good time. Good people, great food and not a care in the world. Lots of great memories from Barcelona.

Models are just people, I honestly never met anyone who was really stuck up or pretentious. In fact the more famous the models the nicer they were in general. It’s was nothing like the reality Modelling shows on TV these days. If any of the girls had ever acted like that people would have just laughed at them.

Cafe Magazine, Ph: Carlos Bosco

Do you miss the modelling world?

I miss some of the people but not the life style. I found your site while looking for a couple old friends online. The Modelling industry breeds a sort of camaraderie so I was lucky enough to have made some good friends. But it isn't conducive to keeping track of friends – there’s too much travel and agency changes to keep track of people.

It would be much easier these days with Myspace and Facebook and mobile phones etc. But back in the 90's the world was much bigger and loosing track of people was easy. I remember walking through a plaza in Milan – I had been back to Australia for a few months after being on the road for 12 months solid – I was suddenly hit from behind by a football tackle and went flying through the air and hit the ground. Chris and Carl – two good friends who were models – had jumped on me and were screaming – “Oh my God” – “where have you been” etc. We got a lot of strange looks from the Italians but we had a laugh and headed off to a few castings together.

Life back then was fun – it had its ups and downs but on the whole, as with all things in life, it’s the people and the friendships that make it worthwhile.

Thanks Todd!

** all pics courtesy of Todd Darling


loo said...

great Interview for Todd Darling ,he looks so handsome!!!!!

AngelLover said...

Thank you very much, Todd, for sharing your thoughts and memories, that's very kind of you !!! :o) :o) :o)

Anonymous said...

Nice interview! Thanks for sharing Todd! :)

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