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Spanish born River Viiperi is a professional model. At 24 he has been in campaigns for Calvin Klein, American Eagle, Bershka, Armani Exchange, Versace and Versace for H & M. He has been photographed on numerous runways including Jeremy Scott. Recently he was again featured in Versace’s winter/fall campaign for the popular brand. He dated socialite Paris Hilton for two years. Just look at his Twitter and Instagram pages and you will see why he is not hard to miss. The camera loves him. He has sparkly blue eyes. He looks chiselled, toned and is perfectly groomed. He posts snaps of himself on social media modelling, in the gym and with friends. You can see that he has a personality that makes him affable and fun to be around. He is one of the models on social media that has real personality. He lives in New York and wants to be an actor. I interviewed him about the modelling industry and his life.
Q. Your mother was a model and after high school you left to pursue a career in the industry. Was modelling always your dream career and why?
A. Absolutely not. The reason I became a full time model was because my parents were separating. Leaving Spain to pursue modelling was the best option I was given. I enjoyed it as a side job when I was a kid as it was “cool” to skip class because you had a shoot or a show. But I never thought it would become my full time job.
Q. You have modelled in campaigns for Calvin Klein, American Eagle, Bershka, Armani Exchange, Versace, Versace for H & M and even appeared on a cover for Attitude magazine with Kylie Minogue. When did you know you were truly successful and what happened to confirm this?
A. I guess the moment I knew I got lucky was three months into pursuing modelling full time (I wouldn’t call it truly successful though as there is always so much more to accomplish in this industry). After a lot of drama I finally got to NY and went to meet Calvin Klein for a casting and booked the job. After that things went down very differently. But the fact that I caused somewhat of an impression, in my first casting, to book the job for none less than Calvin Klein. It gave me the confidence to know that my mom was right to tell me to give this modelling thing a try.
Q. You were born in Ibiza Spain but now live in New York. Can you describe to me your move from your home country to New York? Was that scary for you?
A. Of course it was scary, what 17/18 year old boy wants to leave home to enter a crazy world he hasn’t even heard of? I was a momma’s boy and suddenly I found myself all alone with nobody to talk to, no one to ask for support, nobody to feel loved by. It was very scary, very lonely, depressing but it was something I chose to stick with it.
Q. For anyone who wants to break into the modelling industry. What advice would you give them? What do they need to know? How competitive is the modelling industry?
A. I get asked this question so many times and to be honest I don’t know how to answer it. Unfortunately people do see it as a competition, I don’t. We all look different, clients know what they are looking for. Yes, we might go to the same casting but if the client wants a guy with a beard and dark hair, where is the competition. I can’t grow a beard and don’t have dark hair.
Q. At the beginning of your career did you encounter any rejection? What is your advice for dealing with rejection? Can you give an example?
A. I experienced so much rejection in my first 3 months, I’m not sure where to even begin. The way I dressed was not good enough, some people didn’t understand why I was always acting so happy and cheesy instead of being serious at castings. It’s small things that can really affect you when you’re so young in a world, you have no idea about and they don’t realise. I have never been one to care about peoples opinion so I kept doing me and eventually people understood why I am the way I am, but it did take quite a while for them to accept me.
Q. How much work do you put into your appearance and fitness regime? Can you go through your routine?
A. Lately a lot. After my two year break from modelling I felt like I disappointed some people that pushed so hard for me and felt like I needed to prove myself for some reason. So I changed my attitude and started going to the gym hardcore. Eating healthy, not going out as much, really just trying to take care of myself. My routine isn’t complicated at all but I do go to the gym basically every day for about one hour. I do normal weight training, no cardio nothing else. I do just weights. On Mondays Chest/Triceps. Tuesdays Back/Biceps. I do abs every day, shoulders one day, one on and one off and then legs on Sunday. Wednesdays are the same as Mondays. Then Thursday’s are the same as Tuesdays. On Fridays, I’ll mix it up a bit and I rest on Saturday.
Q. What do you do during your downtime? Any hobbies?
A. Downtime for me is basically doing nothing, relaxing at home, cooking classes, dancing lessons and acting classes. I like going to the movies with friends, shopping, just really getting away from the crazy lifestyle I live in. And I like spending time with the people I don’t get to see much when travelling and working.
Q. What is your favourite runway designer you have walked for and where is your favourite fashion week?
A. I honestly appreciate them all. Most people do not know how much work goes into doing a show. Some clients have a bigger budget and some don’t but they all work as hard to impress the public, as much as they can. Some of the favourites I have walked for are Versace for H&M and Dsquared2. They have huge productions, amazing sets and great energy. Others like Frankie Morello, Desigual and Punto Blanco have smaller budgets but I enjoy them a lot. They let you interact with the public, take your clothes off, smile, they basically want us to enjoy ourselves. And that’s what I’m all about.
Q. What are the perks of being a model and what are the downfalls?
A. The perks of being a model? I guess it depends on how successful you are, we get to travel, meet a lot of people and experience new cultures etc. But the downfall is also that normally you do all this alone or with people you barely know and the industry can be very fake. I don’t deal well with fake people.
Q. You have quite a following on twitter and instagram. How important is it to use social media for modelling?
A. Well I don’t think people these days get it but when I first began on social media, I was probably the only model out there integrating social media into my job. People told me to stop because I was too over exposed and clients didn’t like that. How ironic does that sound now? The reason I integrated social media into my life was because I was lonely, very sad and it was actually very refreshing to be able to tweet with people that seemed to care about me and what I was doing. It was great, now it’s all about how many followers you have, how many likes you get, how cool you look and all that BS. I still do it as it’s required now but I don’t enjoy it like I used to and the way people look at social media now, it just sad in my opinion.
Q. How do you feel about people being discovered through social media by the modelling industry? Do you think it is fair?
A. This is something I can’t give an opinion on without getting in trouble so let’s leave it there ha-ha.
Q. Zoolander 2 has recently been released in cinemas. Is there such term or description or a special look you are instructed or have been trained to do as a model?
A. Absolutely not the more control you have over your face and expression the better. It’s good to have a variety.
Q. Do you think it is easier for male models than what happens in female modelling? For instance when Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner received criticism. What is your opinion on both models and subject matters?
A. I wouldn’t say it’s easier for male models, it’s different. We don’t get that much attention. If I happened to be in the same position as Gigi or Kendall, I highly doubt anyone would care about me, the way they care about them. Girls have always ruled this industry and even though it is changing we’re still not there. I don’t recall seeing a male model on the cover of Vogue (not Vogue Homme the real Vogue) ever. I’m sure there have been cases but not the way girls are thrown in on them.
Q. Have you experienced any negativity like being weighed or staying in crowded appartments for models throughout your time working in the industry?
A. I haven’t been in his exact position but I have probably experienced similar things like sleeping in a house with fourteen other male models. But is that a negative thing? Where else would you find a place to sleep as cheap as a model apartment? They’re actually facilitating your stay and giving you the chance to live in NY (in my case) to see if you work and eventually can afford your own place. As for the measurements, clients need to know our measurements in order to know if they’re clothes will fit us. Is that a bad thing? Some guys are bigger and some smaller never have I seen guys not eat because of work but more because they couldn’t afford it. When I first moved to NY I used to steal apples and buy 1$ hot dogs from the streets because I couldn’t even afford McDonalds. It’s not always about what people say but how they say it. (Especially when it comes to press)
Q. Have you ever been stereotyped for being a model? What is the reaction when you tell people you’re a model?
A. I have and I don’t care what people think especially when it comes from people that don’t do anything or have an immense amount of money because of their families. I’m a model, yes. You have a problem with that? Bye. Lots of people don’t like us for the wrong reasons that I won’t be mentioning here ha-ha.
Q. I love the photo where you pose with a cat on your head. Can you explain this photo please?
A. Well this was funny. I did a shoot for Guapo magazine. And I don’t really remember if it was because we lost some pictures or what exactly happened but we had to reshoot some stuff. And the day of the reshoot I decided to try something different and put the cat on my head to see if it would stay. And voila! Cover. I love trying to come up with new stuff while nobody is looking. Because they normally see you and go oh my god! Don’t move stay! I love it! And those moments are real. I’m even getting goose bumps as I think of that.
Q. You have worn some interesting outfits and looks on the catwalks. What has been your favourite look?
A. Ha-ha if you want to call them interesting. I honestly couldn’t pick my favourite look I’ve worn so many weird, fun, cool, amazing pieces that I can’t remember. The full pink suit for Versace for H&M campaign was pretty dope though.
Q. What is your plan for the future? Do you have any plans after modelling?
A. My next steps is acting and as a hobby I’m going to pick up DJing. I’m also re launching my clothing line. So stay tuned! And follow my social networks to see what’s next!