11 May, 2023

From zero to professional global runways and Fashion Week

Antonio Rossi

Antonio’s journey is different to the others you might have seen on weekly Thriving Thursdays. This is a story of our student who joined us in Year 12 for the IB Diploma Programme. Coming from a small school in Tuscany, Italy knowing little English but still landing a professional contract within a few months after moving to a new country with no experience in the fashion industry. When he found out his mother was moving to Prague, he took the opportunity to learn languages and explore.

He talked to us about his difficulties moving to Prague and his beginning in the fashion industry:

How was your start at PBIS?

Well, many people thought I was shy because I wasn't talkative, but I just didn't know the language which was a huge barrier for me to connect with other students, saying that it challenged me to learn English. I managed to learn it to a good level in about three months at the school.

After I got my English to a good level, my mother told me about this modelling agency in Bratislava, where I then went for an interview, which went great. I had to create a portfolio, which was stressful at the time because I didn’t have any experience with photo shoots, but everyone I met in this industry is very nice and also very helpful, all the time.

Did you always want to be a model?

I always saw it as a great job. I always liked fashion, and the confidence that the models have was inspiring to me. But I didn't expect to be a model and I don’t see it as a full-time job in the future. For now, I enjoy it and I also appreciate that my family supports me all the way, it was really nice when my brother came to see me for Fashion Week in Prague.

What is the industry like?

The harsh part, I think, is the rejection and dealing with it when you get turn down for a casting. You're not going to be picked all the time. For example, I went to Milan where I signed a contract with another agency but got rejected for a show because I didn’t fit the style of the theme.

What would you say was the biggest challenge?

Probably here in Prague and Slovakia. In the industry here, most people speak in Czech and/or Slovak and I always had to have someone else translate for me. So, that made me feel small in beginning, but as I got more experienced and better at the language, it got better.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

My biggest achievement was to sign a contract with Independent in Milan.

Signing that contract has opened so many opportunities for me to work for Fashion Week internationally, as the fashion industry here is quite small, especially for men.

How does it work after you sign a contract?

They ask about your availability in certain periods. For me, this time of the year is very challenging because I am in the middle of my IB Diploma Programme exams, so I had to turn down some opportunities, such as Fashion Week in Prague.

The school helped me last year when my English oral exams were clashing with Fashion Week in Prague. I told Mr. Korczyk, the Head of Year 13, about my situation and they helped me to switch with another student. The preparation before the show take a few days prior the event, because we have fittings etc. For Fashion Week they require three or four days before. We try all the clothes with the stylist, and we get measured. You arrive usually from 8:00 or 7:30 in the morning and you stay there until 7pm working with the designers. But it's great because I met so many people there, so many other models like me.

What are your next steps?

I have been accepted to Utrecht University in the Netherlands to study Economics and Business, so I am looking forwards to my new journey.

I would love to go to the Fashion Week in Milan, Paris and New York and sign contracts in Paris, Japan, and New York. I want to meet a lot of people from different cultures. I really enjoy meeting new people, discovering new places and now knowing English is allowing me to do so.

How does it feel being in this industry?

The industry has changed itself. It’s seen as a cruel industry, that is very harsh.

It’s great because it builds your self-esteem. Some people might judge the industry, the models, and labeling them with the stereotypical plaster of not being bright. Which to me is a very harsh judgement which is not always true.

What would be your advice?

Just be yourself. Don't get frustrated when you’re rejected or don’t get into castings. Sometimes, they are looking for a someone to fit a specific style, theme etc., that's the nature of the industry.