“People kept asking me to model, but I never thought I’d actually be doing it” says Paolo Roldan, 26, the Philippines-born, Givenchy muse who, by the way, is proud to be Canadian.
That’s humble thinking for a six foot two, honey-coloured Adonis who has worked with the iconic duo Mert and Marcus, and created a stir posing in a full-frontal nude spread for Vogue Paris. Maybe it’s his humility that has got him this far, or perhaps his seductive slithering tattoos, or his chiselled bone structure. Originally set to play basketball in his native Philippines, Paolo remembers, “I had a lot to learn there, those guys play for survival.” When things didn’t work out (due to a knee injury), Roldan decided to explore other options. It wasn’t until he signed to Boss Models in New York, almost two years ago, that things really took off. Now his almond-shaped eyes and bedroom pout have attracted a cult of fans among the fashion world, including Riccardo Tisci, whom Paolo has modelled for for years.
Long before Paris and Milan came calling, Roldan had a foundation within the industry. Though you wouldn’t call him an ‘around the way’ kind of guy – with the constant travelling and all – he’s a big fan of Canadian fashion talent, and remains heavily involved with NOMAD, a well-known menswear boutique located in Toronto’s downtown core. When asked about future plans, Roldan withholds the details, but mentions that he is open to the possibilities of creating. “I wanna do stuff with designers from Toronto”, he says. “You don’t really get to see this side of the city. This place is so dope.” i-D Online caught up with Paolo to talk personal development, modelling and full-frontal!
What do you think of the fashion scene in Toronto? It’s growing. It’s very commercial but it’s come a long way. There are some great shops popping up like Sydney’s, Serpentine, and my buddy John (Hillifer) who’s doing his own line now, which is more fashion-forward. But in terms of NOMAD, we still cater to people who have all around classic style. Kids like Toronto’s scene as a whole.
How did you get started with NOMAD and exactly what it is that you do? I’m a buyer. I was working in another clothing store before that, and my grandmother passed away, so I went back to the Philippines to go to her funeral. When I came back, I didn’t feel like doing anything so I ended up quitting that job. I became friends with the owner of NOMAD, Zeb Munir. When I got back from the Philippines, he was like ‘What are you doing now? Maybe you can do some shifts’. That’s how it got started. That was about five years ago.
How has the modelling industry helped you develop as a person? It’s helped me to see the world, which is something I’ve wanted to do for so long. And maybe a little bit of growing up as well. I realised that a lot of the time, modelling is associated with partying. And for me, I figured, maybe that’s not the most important thing I should be doing. So I see the business aspect of it. Also, learning how to treat people with the respect they deserve. I’m getting older. And I’m a bit wiser now.
Where are you headed? Right now, I’m thinking of going back to the Philippines. I’m also looking into taking some acting classes. But I don’t know yet. It’s nothing solid