Fábio Tavares @ Face Models
Fábio is both calm and happy. He claims to be shy but, to us, he just seemed like a mature boy who is taking the right steps towards a great modelling career. He also said he loves cooking. We don't know about that, but he does for sure know how to move in front of a camera.
Being a model, was it something you always wanted?
I’d never thought about being a model, but when I was little there was a “fashion show” at the company my dad worked for. My mom wanted me to be on the show. The price were the clothes I wore for the catwalk. My mom dressed me with the company’s clothes… it was all very well organized. I was 8 at the time. Then I never gave it another thought to it until I was 16/17 and saw something related to scouting. I applied to a few and Face Models was the first agency to answer. I talked to a friend of mine that knew a bit about the fashion world, because at the time I didn’t know the first thing about the measure requirements and all. My friend came with me to the agency. I talked to Graça, the booker back then, and she liked me and said I had a good height, but a very young face. She told me we would work on building a book, but said I probably wouldn’t start working immediately because of how young I looked. I agreed, started my book, and for about 3 years I would go to castings to gain experience. Then Pedro (Alves) entered the agency and it was with him that called me to my first runway casting, to walk in Portugal Fashion. I was maybe 19 at the time. I did my first walking season and then went to Paris.
How many times have you been to Paris?
This last one was my third. It has been a year since I’ve signed with my French agency.
What surprised you the most when you started working in fashion?
I liked most models’ attitude. On my first show I arrived and, while I was waiting, a few models that were also there came over and started talking to me. It’s easy to start a conversation in this industry, because you always have those standard questions to ask: where are you from, with which agency are you with… At that show in particular I met a model that lived near me and we became good friends!
So… do you think it was easy to “get in”?
No, not really…
No? What did you first struggle with?
I think it’s difficult to start. Before people know who you are, it’s hard to book a job. And if you don’t book, people don’t know who you are. Now, I realize my look is more high fashion than commercial. Knowing that, I understand why the castings I was going to never really lead to anything. Back then, I would go to castings sometimes and knew I wasn’t going to get anything out of it… but if my booker would send me, I had to go of course!
How did you start booking work, then?
I first did a lookbook for Klar and, when I got there, they gave me great feedback. That re-assured me a lot and I understood I had to keep trying. Then, after a while, I booked some runways for Portugal Fashion and, from then on, things started working good.
And how did the opportunity to go to Paris arise?
After starting to work, people started telling me I should try to work in Paris, since I was very tall and slim. They would say I had the perfect look to work there and that I had many resemblances with Fernando Cabral. Once, after Portugal Fashion, I even got mistaken for him! A guy came up to him with a magazine that was at the party, he opened a page that had a picture of Fernando and asked me if that was me. I told him it was Fernando and he said I really look like him.
So, you went to Paris and signed with an agency there…
Yes! I did an editorial with Elton Varela for a shoe brand, Cassimo, and my booker asked for the pictures as quickly as possible, so he could send them to international agencies. After two weeks I had an agency in Paris.
And how did it go after that?
I arrived to Paris in January. I had never travelled alone and my agency in Paris had given me the instructions from the subway, but I still needed to get to the subway and didn’t know how. So I went over to talk to an African man I saw, because I thought that if he had dark skin, he would talk one of the languages I talked, for sure! I started talking to him and, once he realized I was Portuguese, he started talking in some variation of Portuguese. We could understand each other! He helped me and told me to follow him. We got on a bus and then told me on which stop I had to exit. I got on the subway and arrived late to the agency. Very late! And I still had 5/6 castings to do that day!! I got there, they printed me a map with all the castings, gave me my book, asked me to walk so he could see how I did. Gave me some brief notes and told me to hurry to the castings.
And how did that go?
It was frustrating, because a place that would take me 15 minutes to get there, since I didn’t know where it was, it took me one and a half hour to arrive. I would ask people on the street and people would all send me to different directions. I mean, there was definitely pressure… my first casting was for Kenzo. But I started getting good feedback, even tough I didn’t get to do all the castings, because it was getting very late and my booker was calling me because he was waiting for me at the agency.
Castings can take long…
Yes. On the Louis Vuitton one I stayed there for two hours. And my booker was calling me because all of the other boys had already arrived at the agency. He was wondering what I’d been doing, like as if I had been walking around Paris to see the city. I was really nervous. After this intense day of castings, I got to the agency, where my booker was angrily waiting for me, and then he told me Kenzo had called me back for the next day. I took a deep breath and understood that things were not lost yet. I didn’t really know Kenzo at the time, but since the moment I got to the location I understood it had to be something big.
What did you book in this first stay in Paris?
I walked for Kenzo and other 3 brands. On my second season in Paris I booked another 4 shows – and I met Fernando Cabral! We did three shows together! I met him at the ACNE casting when the director told me something that I misunderstood. He was telling me to walk and I understood I had to go get my book from the other room. I left to go get it and Fernando told me that was not what he had told me. I thanked him and then saw him again on the next season and we got along very well. I asked him for advice, since he was also Portuguese and had a lot of experience. On the last day we worked together I was feeling sick and he stood by my side. I was worried because I was getting worse and had to walk the runway in an hour. But the show went well, thankfully. After that show he also helped me a lot by telling me a faster way to get to the bus, because I was already late to get on a plane to come back home!
From all the experiences you had, what was the most remarkable one?
Kenzo’s show. It was my first big show. It was then that I realized how big the fashion world is. You don’t get the full picture if you only work in Portugal. It’s amazing to understand how huge a big fashion show can be.
What about Balmain?
Yes, it was also remarkable. Everyone was there. All the top models were there! Marlon Teixeira, Sean O’Pry, Kortajarena …
What do you think we are missing in Portugal, so that we get on Paris’s or Milan’s level?
Outside Portugal, there is a lot of diversity in what regards models. I can work a lot in one season and then not work in other seasons because they are then looking for a different kind of look. It keeps changing. In Portugal that doesn’t happen… you see the same people over and over again.
Do you think models here in Portugal focus enough on learning?
I think nowadays younger models are learning more and more. Their agencies are more worried about telling them how to get ready for a casting, what to talk and not talk about with clients… they take time to prepare them. I can talk more about what happens in my agency. Bruno (the booker) tries to go with new faces to their first works, so he can teach and help them. Not all bookers do this, but it would for sure be helpful.
From everything you’ve done (campaigns, editorials, runway), what do you prefer?
I like everything! I love doing runway. I think most models do. It’s our moment!
What was your favorite runway show do to? Kenzo?
Hum… I’m going to have to go with Balmain. The runway was mirrored. It was amazing.
Did you meet Olivier Rousteing?
Yes, from day 1. Since the first casting. He follows the whole process. He may be one of the few that still does that. I already knew the casting director, since I had been in previous castings in Milan with her. I immediately went over to greet her, so she would notice I was there. Olivier asked me to walk and, after I started, out of nowhere, a really really loud music started playing. I guess it was a test to see if I would stop or keep my composure. I kept going until he asked me to stop, so I ended up going back and forth about 6 times. Then he said “ok, thank you. Where are you from?”. This small interaction made me think he may have liked me. And he did and called me to the second casting!
What advice would you give someone who would like to become a professional model?
First of all, you have to have a certain profile. Then, if you are really interested in becoming a model, you need to have a great inner strength and be prepared. For example, I need to have a routine. If I don’t have jobs, I’ll go for a run, go to the gym, or take my brother out somewhere. In this job we don’t have work everyday, so it’s good to keep yourself busy in those days and find something to do instead of staying home and watching TV.
You told us Fernando Cabral gave you some advices. Can you tell us one?
Don’t give up.
What are your hobbies?
Going to the gym or for a run in the morning. I also enjoy going to the cinema and just hanging out with my friends. And now, since I spend some time abroad, I’ve bought an English book and have been learning a few things.
Tell us something about you that most people don’t know.
I’m shy! Until I know the person, that is.
What are your biggest goals for the future?
Right now I’m focused on trying to be abroad more often and establish myself internationally within the next year, year and a half. And then, in the future, since I love cooking and am always the one who cooks in models house and all, I would like to enter a cooking course.
photography Gonçalo M. Catarino
styling Catarina F. Pinto
make up & hair Anabela Gonçalves
model Fábio Tavares @ Face Models