Abercrombie & Fitch Photo Shoots

When Abercrombie & Fitch went shopping for an attractive location for a fashion shoot this spring, it couldn't pass up Swarthmore College's rolling hills and blossoming foliage. What company officials did pass up was the Swarthmore student body, angering many on the Pennsylvania campus.

The company, which uses near nudity in ads to sell its preppy clothing to the young and affluent, brought its own models for the shoot. In opinion articles in the campus newspaper, The Phoenix, students also complained that corporations should not be allowed to define beauty. What's more, they said, there's a huge disconnect between the company's values and Swarthmore's.

"Swarthmore is not a mainstream school," says Dann Naseemullah, a senior. "The culture that they peddle is not our culture."

Meanwhile, students at Stanford University and several other institutions were criticizing the company's new line of T-shirts featuring caricatured Asian faces and bearing such slogans as "Wong Brothers Laundry Service -- Two Wongs Can Make It White." The company quickly withdrew the shirts and apologized.

But company officials defend their use of Swarthmore, even though they don't plan to identify the campus in their ads. "A setting at Swarthmore is totally appropriate for our purposes of conveying the image of the name to our customer," says Hampton Carney, a company spokesman.

Thomas Krattenmaker, a Swarthmore spokesman, says the students are making much of nothing. "I'm glad that Swarthmore students have the social conscience that they have," he says. "But I've heard from lots of students who thought it was kind of fun that Abercrombie was here."

Source: 2002 Chronicle of Higher Education, Inc.

Abercrombie & Fitch Male Model: Charlie Scheerer

charlie scheerer

Southern Methodist University senior Charlie Scheerer, who grew up on Seaspray Avenue, knows what he'll be doing in the new year, at least for a few days of it. He got the news this week from Nick Tamposi at P Model Management that he's been booked as one of the faces (and bodies, as is usually the case) for the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. This is the second time Tamposi's agency has placed a Palm Beacher with the A&F people - Cristina Coniglio appeared in the catalog earlier this year.

Photographer Bruce Weber will be shooting Scheerer and other models in various stages of dress (and undress, if history is any indication) in Fort Lauderdale Jan. 5-12.It won't be the first time Scheerer has stood in front of a camera. When the 21-year-old was 5, his mother, Sandy Scheerer - who obviously thought he was adorable but knew he had a face that more people than just his mother could love - took him to New York, where he found work as a child model and appeared in several ads.

She doesn't expect that her son will make a career out of modeling, noting that Charlie is a finance major and has interned during the summers with Dixon Boardman's Optima Fund Management group in Manhattan, but she thinks it'll be a kick for him.

Source: Palm Beach Daily News, December 25, 2005

Abercrombie & Fitch Male Model: Charlie Scheerer

This past spring, images of Charlie Scheerer's face and well-toned body, as photographed by Bruce Weber for Abercrombie & Fitch, were plastered all over the world.

Scheerer, 21, a senior at Southern Methodist University in Dallas who grew up on the island, was not only pictured in the summer-season catalog 'Casual Luxury,' distributed to over 1.5 million homes worldwide, but was designated as Abercrombie & Fitch's "premier" model for the period from April to June.That made Scheerer the star of all in-store marketing displays at Abercrombie's 348 stores in the United States and Canada and on its Web site, www.abercrombie.com. His image was also posted on 60 billboards positioned at strategic locations in major American cities.

"Charlie completely embodies the A&F lifestyle, from dedicated student to amazing athlete - and all with perfect good looks," said an Abercrombie & Fitch spokesman.

Scheerer's premier status with Abercrombie & Fitch involved making appearances every weekend in spring at the apparel retailer's new Fifth Avenue flagship store in Manhattan.

He was flown up each weekend, issued a pair a cargo shorts and flip-flops - no shirt, of course - and greeted thousands of customers who came through the flagship's doors.

"I think they chose me because I have a personality," said the 6-foot Scheerer, who said that models competing for the position all had great bodies but were not as articulate as he was.

Of course, it helped that Scheerer has always taken care of his physique.

"I lead a healthy lifestyle," he said. "I run a lot, eat healthy and work out regularly."

"Charlie is able to speak and is much more than a pretty face," said mother Sandy Scheerer, who recognized her son's potential as a model when he was 4 years old and he was signed by the Ford agency for a brief period.

His current part-time stint as a model is exciting and surprising to his mother.

"When I was in New York City to see him on the weekends, you would see a shopping bag with his face on it go by and it would just blow me away.

"He was so recognized, it was amazing. At the Abercrombie store, girls would line up to see him," she said. "He even had a bodyguard."

Among the thousands of people he came into contact with, said Sandy Scheerer, was none other than Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani, who noticed Charlie as he passed the Fifth Avenue A&F store one weekend.

"He kept speaking to me in Italian," said Scheerer. "He kept asking me what I needed, how he could help me, if I could come to Milan to do fashion shows. I didn't know who he was at first."

Calling his return to modeling a "bizarre" phenomenon, Sandy Scheerer noted that her eldest son (he has a 15-year-old brother - Joey) happened to be in the right place at the right time and will have a sideline career when he earns a degree in finance.

Scheerer and his mother laud the efforts of Nick Tamposi of P Model Management in West Palm Beach for the opportunity. Tamposi, who used to lived down the block from the Scheerers' Midtown home, thought of his old friend Charlie when a call came in from Abercrombie & Fitch that they were looking for new faces for the summer catalog. Tamposi had track record with A&F casting, having successfully introduced local model Christina Coniglio to the brand the year before.

"I thought Charlie had the right look," said Tamposi, who took a Polaroid of Scheerer and sent that to the Abercrombie & Fitch casting people. Scheerer, still in school in Texas, could not attend the casting call in person.

On the basis of that one Polaroid, Scheerer's modeling career was launched.

"Nick thought I'd be good, and he was right," said Scheerer. "I didn't really have to think about it."

After the A&F shoot in January and his selection as the retailer's "face" of the season, Weber chose Scheerer to appear in a Polo Ralph Lauren print and Internet campaign for the clothes Lauren designed for the Wimbledon tennis championships and a shoot for the September issue of the Italian men's fashion magazine L'Uomo Vogue.

For the rest of the summer, Scheerer's modeling duties are minimal. He is working for a second summer as a research analyst at the Optime Fund Management hedge fund operated by part-time Palm Beacher Dixon Boardman in New York.

When he returns to SMU this fall, he'll spend a semester abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, but will be model on the side. Tamposi has organized representation for Scheerer with the Flash agency in Milan and the Kult agency in Hamburg, and is researching the possibility of representation for Scheerer at a Danish agency as well.

Scheerer, while going for the modeling gigs full throttle, is not interested in pursuing a career in front of the camera after he graduates.

"It's all very unexpected and has turned out to be a great experience," he said. "I get to travel a lot and meet lots of people."

His post-SMU goal, however, is to land a job in New York in finance.

"I'd like to work in investment banking or for a hedge fund," he said.

Source: Palm Beach Daily News, July 9, 2006

Abercrombie & Fitch Male Model: Jeremy Bloom

Jeremy Bloom
If Jeremy Bloom wins a gold medal in moguls skiing at next year's Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, his sponsors and the U.S. Olympic Committee should send a thank-you card to the NCAA.

Football's loss was clearly freestyle skiing's gain.

Bloom, 22, is the hottest moguls skier in the world this season with four consecutive wins on the World Cup circuit. He looks like he'll retain his icy grip on the No. 1 spot in the standings

"I feel really relaxed," Bloom said in a recent conference call with reporters. "I don't look at it as a winning streak. I just try to improve a little more every day and hopefully it will help me next year."

This is the first time Bloom has concentrated on only one sport. Growing up, he played football and basketball and ran track in school and hit the slopes when the bell rang. He was a unique two-sport man at Colorado, balancing football and skiing for two years before the NCAA and its outdated rules caught up to him.

Even though moguls skiing is not an NCAA sport, the organization ruled that Bloom could not remain eligible for football if he accepted money from sponsors for his skiing.

Now he's down to one sport, and dominating it.

"Other sports kept me mentally fresh," he said. "It's been more of a challenge to dedicate myself mentally to one sport. It's a continual learning experience."

Coming out of high school in Loveland, Colo., Bloom was skilled enough in football to be recruited to Colorado as a wide receiver and kick returner. At the same time, he was developing into a world-class freestyle skier in moguls.

Traveling the World Cup circuit to compete isn't cheap and sponsorship offers and endorsement deals came Bloom's way, and not just for the ski stuff. Bloom has the kind of looks to draw modeling assignments; he's appeared in Vanity Fair and GQ magazines and in ads for Abercrombie & Fitch and Under Armour while being labeled "Eye Candy" by Cosmo Girl magazine.

Bloom finished a disappointing ninth at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 but managed to get in two seasons of football at Colorado (he scored five touchdowns of 75 yards or longer) before the NCAA went petty and denied him further eligibility.

"I believe I'm permanently ineligible," Bloom said of his college football status. "I've moved on in my life. Maybe after the Olympics, I'll try to go play in the NFL."

In contrast to the NCAA, the NFL probably would embrace a unique two- sport athlete such as Bloom. The last athlete who excelled at skiing and played in the NFL was kicker Jan Stenerud.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, February 15, 2005

Abercrombie & Fitch Model: Kyle Maynard Wrestler with congenital amputation

Kyle Maynard
STILLWATER - There's not much Kyle Maynard can't do. That says a lot coming from a 19-year old with no elbows or knees. Maynard was born with a rare disorder called congenital amputation. It left him with three total joints - his neck and two shoulders. He's just over two feet tall and weighs about 125 pounds.

His condition would keep most people from accomplishing routine activities, much less being competitive in sports. But Maynard isn't most people.

The University of Georgia freshman received the Medal of Courage from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Friday night in Stillwater. Such honors are becoming routine for Maynard.

"I've had some honors, but it's unbelievable to be honored here," Maynard said. "This is the heart of wrestling. You can feel the spirit here."

The Hall also added four inductees Friday night: Chris Campbell and Larry "Zeke" Jones, both Olympians and world champions; former Oklahoma State wrestler and current Minnesota coach J Robinson; and former Clarion University coach Robert Bubb.

Maynard has some lofty credentials of his own.

He has wrestled since the sixth grade. His high school coach, Cliff Ramos, would get on his knees and tuck his arms into his sleeves to understand Maynard's perspective and help him train. Together, they developed moves specific to how Maynard could wrestle.

Maynard had a 35-16 record in high school and won three out of five matches his senior year at the state meet. He had the third-most takedowns (89) on his team. He just missed All-America status after competing in the NHSCA Wrestling Championships.

He has received an ESPY award for Best Athlete with a Disability. He's been on Larry King Live, HBO, the Howard Stern radio show and ESPN's Cold Pizza. Maynard has even done modeling for Abercrombie & Fitch. "My life is all about normalcy," Maynard said. "That's kind of the conflict with this award. I see myself as normal. There are so many other people that deserve this award.

"Right now, I'm just in awe. I'm seeing some of my heroes around here."

Maynard is continuing his wrestling career at Georgia. He is on a club team that competes in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association. He also has participated in swimming, baseball, street hockey and football, all with the aid of prosthesis.

"He's a ball of spirit, a gift to the world," Hall of Fame executive director Lee Roy Smith said. "This award is not about what he can do for us, but a congratulations for being who he is.

"Wrestling is about self-reliance, self discipline and self-confidence. Kyle has all three."

Maynard said he will wrestle as long as he can. He is studying broadcast journalism. He said he'll continue to travel and do motivational speaking while in school.

"If my story has an impact on one person, it will be worth the fight," Maynard said. "Without wrestling and without the people around me, I wouldn't be in my situation. It's nothing special about me. It's all about the sport."

Also recognized by the Hall of Fame this year: Outstanding American, James Ravannack of Metarie, La.; Order of Merit, Stan Zeamer of Manheim, Pa.; Lifetime Achievement Award for Officials, Bobby Walton of Midwest City; National High School Excellence Award, Troy Nickerson of Chenango Forks, N.Y.

Source: Daily Oklahoman, June 4, 2005

Abercrombie & Fitch Male Model: Brady Quinn

Brady Quinn
Their careers started out similarly. The hyped-up freshman entering school being told there was an opportunity to play.

He didn't start at first, but by midseason everyone knew the lineup and that the freshman had to be in it. The freshman represented the future and had the talent for the present. Notre Dame junior quarterback Brady Quinn went through it in 2003 out of Dublin, Ohio. So when his sister, Kelly, started the same path this year as a freshman soccer forward at Virginia, the advice started coming.

And coming. And coming.

"I'm sure she's tired of hearing stuff," Brady said this week. "It helps her realize it's the same game. That's one of the things I try to tell her."

She listens, too. Older sister Laura said Brady is probably the only Quinn from whom Kelly takes advice.

"Anything he says, I listen to him," Kelly said. "Even guy advice."

The suggestions started a few years ago, when Brady began his Notre Dame career and Kelly continued to dominate Ohio high school soccer. Kelly suffered an injury and was unable to play in the state championship game her senior season.

She wanted to play, despite not being able to walk. Brady sat her down and dispensed what Kelly considers the most important advice she's gotten.

"I was crying and he sat down and said everything happens for a reason and this isn't the biggest thing in your life," Kelly remembered. "You don't need to risk playing in a high school game. You have a whole college career ahead of you.

"It almost made me cry even more because he cared that much."

Brady is known nationwide now, thanks to Notre Dame's NBC contract, his 1,181 yards passing and 10 touchdowns and his good looks that caused Abercrombie & Fitch to consider him for a model and Hollister, where he worked in high school, to place him as a greeter in the local store.

Brady Quinn is one of the pretty people.

"We joke about it in our family, even," Kelly said. "Well, if football doesn't work out, he has a modeling career.

"Other girls are like, `Your brother is gorgeous.' I'm like `Hey, we can be sisters. I'll hook you up. You can be part of the family.' "

Sorry girls, Kelly is kidding. And Brady's been attached for a while.

Meet 19-year-old Lindy Slinger, a sophomore at Miami, Ohio, in Oxford. Kelly and Lindy played soccer together for years in Dublin and Lindy's been with Brady since before he became the newest Mr. Notre Dame. She dated him back when he was merely Brady from Dublin.

She's been with him through his different fashions: the Hollister/surfer boy phase his teammates talk about from his freshman year; the shaggy, fraternity boy look from sophomore year and this year's clean cut junior style.

Although, she said, the current one might have been a product of summer antics.

"He experimented with a Mohawk this summer," Slinger said from Oxford this week. "I never thought Brady would do that but he did. It was like two days. One of his close friends has been cutting his hair since he was little.

"They were out in the driveway, shaved a Mohawk. He's crazy."

He's also caused her to be known not as Lindy, but as "Brady Quinn's girlfriend" around her Miami campus.

Not that she minds. She's used to it now, going out and watching Brady sign autographs everywhere he goes and girls staring at him, watching him as he walks by.

The attention is growing. Three MySpace accounts have been created as his name - none of which shows any proof to actually being Brady. There is a Brady4Heisman Web site. Whenever ESPN runs a college football commercial, some sort of Brady Quinn image appears in the montage.

"He's a Tom Brady," said his 22-year-old sister Laura, a senior a Cal State Los Angeles. "He's good looking. He's modest and a sweetheart. Brady is honestly a good kid and he's got the looks to boot. He's got everything going for him.

"He's got manners and he's courteous of everybody. He's the prototype of a quarterback."

There's the comparison everyone makes - the link to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Part of it comes because of the common coach, first-year Notre Dame leader Charlie Weis. Part comes because stylistically, they play the same sort of game. Part of it comes because of the charisma and the good looks. They even have the same attributes - both are listed at 6-foot-4 and Quinn outweighs Brady by six pounds.

And although people don't know it, Quinn has modeled before. All the Quinns have.

"He got a lot of work when he was younger," said Laura, who continued modeling and aspires to be a sports broadcaster. "We all did different stuff. He got out of it a lot earlier than Kelly and I because of sports. It was mostly Schottensteins (a department store in Ohio) and textbooks."

There's one other piece, too, that's helped Brady Quinn with the celebrity.

It runs in the family. He's been able to search out one of his own for advice, much like he dispenses it to his sister.

Zachery Ty Bryan - who played the eldest son, Brad, on "Home Improvement" and has since dropped the Ty - is his cousin. The two send e-mails and instant messages and try to see each other a few times a year.

Bryan, now 24 and still acting, told him to stick with the people who were there before he became big-time Brady Quinn.

Of course, he can say that. He remembers Brady when he was little.

"He was the scrawny little kid," Bryan said. "He was in the back yard of the pool, this little kid. You should see the pictures.

"Now, he's this yoked guy. Where did that come from? He was really skinny. Next thing I know, he's 2-and-a-quarter."

And now he's becoming a big-time celebrity.

"It's so wild," Bryan said. "What I went through with `Home Improvement,' it's cool to see someone going through the same thing. We can talk and I can give him advice as to what mistakes I did make and the good choices I made.

"Now, we have to hope he makes it to the NFL."

Then, of course, he'll be a full-blown celeb.

Source: Journal Gazette, October 1, 2005

Abercrombie & Fitch Male Model: Nick Runnebaum

Nick Runnebaum
In all of Missouri and all of Kansas, where will you find the best-looking, biggest-hearted single guys?

Right here in the Kansas City area, of course. The November issue of Cosmopolitan, now on newsstands, showcases one eligible bachelor per state, and as it happens, Mr. Missouri and Mr. Kansas are both Cowtowners.

They're also both "drool-worthy" (Cosmo's words), but is their studliness more than skin deep? We talked to them to find out. (P.S. These photos are not the ones in Cosmo; to see those, find a copy of the magazine or visit cosmopolitan.com and click "Bachelor Blowout.")

- Tim Engle/The Star

Mr. Missouri Kevin Jones

Mr. Kansas Nick Runnebaum

Basic bio

He's 27; a patent attorney at megafirm Shook, Hardy & Bacon; grew up in Raytown; grad of Park University (math major) and UMKC law school; is moving to the Plaza.

He's 25; a senior biz major at University of St. Mary, Leavenworth; former assistant manager at Abercrombie & Fitch stores in Lawrence and on the Plaza; works at Fort Leavenworth doing background checks.


5 feet 9 inches; 165 pounds; brown eyes.

6 feet 2 inches; 185 pounds; dark brown eyes.

Really digs...

Clothes, dancing, movies, working out.

Basketball, football, "trying to golf," skiing, working out.

Jock status

Played baseball at JCCC, Appalachian State and Park U. His "Plan A" at one point was to play pro ball.

Played basketball at Benedictine College in Atchison; played football (free safety, wide receiver) for St. Mary.

Best physical feature (according to him)

His smile.

His smile.

You might not guess that he...

Is a magician. As a teenager he bought a magic book in Vegas; now performs at parties, conventions, etc. around the country. His specialty: up-close magic. Always has a deck of cards in his pocket.

Coaches seventh-grade girls and boys basketball. Practices are at 6 a.m. "I find a lot of enjoyment in it."

As quoted in Cosmo

"I'm shy around girls I'm attracted to. As a result, I think it's hotter when a woman makes the first move."

"Success is important to me but not in terms of money. I'm after the kind that comes from being happy with myself."

How he got in the mag

Then-girlfriend sent in pix.

Then-girlfriend sent in pix.

About his Cosmo pic...

They put him in a polo shirt and cords and restyled his hair. The result: very boy-next-door. "It's not what I naturally look like, I don't think.

"He's shirtless, in plaid flannel shorts (not boxers) in a hammock. "I don't think it's the best picture of me at all.

"What he's looking for in a woman

A Christian who loves family, likes to dance and has a great sense of humor.

Someone who's attractive, honest, intelligent, "a girl that can basically stimulate my mind."

A few words on the KC dating scene

We have "one of the friendliest female populations in the country. I think it's very easy to talk to people here." When he goes out, it's usually to the Plaza.

"I like the women of Kansas City. I think they're mostly down to earth but independent. They're not so much into the flashy lifestyle."

What next?

He'll keep practicing law and making magic. He also enjoys the modeling stuff.

"I haven't taken modeling out of the picture yet." Met with some New York agencies when there for Cosmo shoot. May move to Denver and get into medical supply sales.

Cover boys

The annual "Cosmo Men" issue features "some of the most eligible studs in the nation" (and their e-mail addresses). Runnebaum is on Page 72; Jones, Page 80.

Source: Kansas City Star, October 22, 2005

Abercrombie & Fitch Male Model: Charlie Scheerer

Local boy makes good by baring it (almost) all!

This summer, one of the country's main beefcakes is going to be homegrown.

Palm Beach product Charlie Scheerer, 21, son of the owner of the historic Testa's diner on Royal Poinciana Way, has recently been named the male face of teeny-bopper clothier Abercrombie & Fitch. For the next three months Scheerer's face, and abs, are going to adorn all Abercrombie promotional material, including giant pictures in the chain's 348 U.S. stores, catalog, Web site and even shopping bags.Funny thing about the graduate of Palm Beach Day School and Cardinal Newman High: a few weeks ago, Scheerer was just another anonymous finance major at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Suddenly, he found himself on the beach in Fort Lauderdale - with famed lensman Bruce Weber snapping away.

"Everything went pretty quickly," Scheerer said. "I'm just interested in investment banking. But a friend of mine took some Polaroid shots and next thing I know I'm a model. Whatever."

The friend is Nick Tamposi, a schoolmate of Scheerer's at Newman who set up a local modeling agency, P Models Management. For the past two years, Tamposi has been mining wealthy Palm Beach families for potential fashion models. Scheerer may be his biggest find yet.

"Charlie didn't even have a portfolio," Tamposi said. "They took him from just looking at the Polaroids."

Scheerer will also appear in a Ralph Lauren ad in the fancy tennis program at Wimbledon, as well as a spread in the Italian edition of Vogue - both shot in Palm Beach.

Tamposi didn't comment on the value of Scheerer's Abercrombie contract, but an industry insider said a male model at the heart of a typical three-month campaign can make up to $50,000.

So what's Scheerer doing with the dough? "I've already invested it," he said.

Source: Palm Beach Post, May 7, 2006

Abercrombie & Fitch Quarterly

The Abercrombie & Fitch quarterly magazine has won a place of honor on the cocktail tables of gay men from Chelsea to the Castro. But these gentlemen are not looking at the clothes. Instead, they are admiring page after page of buff college boys frolicking on campus in Abercrombie & Fitch jeans, pullovers and crew-necks. A posse of young men in boxers and roller skates whoops it up at a dimly lit rink. Half-dressed guys are pictured with their bedroom eyes staring directly at the reader. Four pages feature young men streaking across campus, their bare bottoms facing the camera.

The images are neither physically threatening nor aggressively sexual. But to a host of readers, they are obviously homoerotic. What makes the images unique is their context. They are not in the sort of high-end fashion magazine in which homoeroticism is now commonplace, thanks to advertising campaigns from Calvin Klein, Gianni Versace, Gucci and others. They haven't been placed in a niche publication, such as Out magazine. And they are not loaded with attitude. They are in a mainstream

"I like it," says Joe Landry, publisher of The Advocate. "There's an essence of innocence that has been captured."

"As a gay person, at that age if you're coming out you're fearful and shameful," he says. "To see kids at that age, to see them being playful, happy and open -- even though it's not sexual -- there's a romance that's captured."

Unlike the images of muscle-bound men from the Davidoff advertisements or the Calvin Klein billboards, these photographs aren't confrontational or intimidating.

"The men are idealized, but not challenging," says Harold Levine, a New York-based marketing consultant. With the Abercrombie & Fitch campaign, "a straight guy could say, `It could be me.' A gay guy could say, `Wouldn't that be yummy if that were my boyfriend.' "

The $5 quarterly catalogue premiered in 1997 as the lead tool in Abercrombie & Fitch's national marketing campaign. The current book, titled "On the Road," has a circulation of about 1 million and has largely been credited with sparking the company's recent huge sales increases. Total net sales in 1997 were $522 million, up 56 percent from the previous year.

The success of the catalogue has not been without controversy. Earlier this year, Mothers Against Drunk Driving protested a two-page spread in the quarterly, which is aimed at the college-age market, because it featured a list of recipes detailing how to make alcoholic drinks such as Sex on the Beach and Brain Hemorrhage. The company subsequently removed the pages from the magazine and issued an apology.

A spokesman says that the company has been on a mission to change its image from that of a purveyor of rugged outdoor wear to that of a more fashion-driven house. But he denies that it has made a conscious attempt to court gay customers.

"People are reading into it and projecting their own sexuality on the images," says Lonnie Fogel, director of investor relations and corporate communications. "It's not attempting to deliberately make some sexual statement."

Abercrombie & Fitch produced the magazine in collaboration with the New York advertising agency Shahid & Co. and the images were photographed by Bruce Weber. Shahid worked on "Chosen Families," a controversial advertising campaign for Banana Republic that portrayed gay families in their leisure time. And while Weber is a photographer with a range of topics and styles, he is best known for his homoerotic fashion and advertising shoots for designers such as Calvin Klein.

Fogel, however, says, "Weber was engaged because of the high quality of his work and his creativity."

"That's what good advertising does," Levine says. "If I were [Fogel], I'd say exactly the same thing: We've chosen images to show healthy, American exuberance. . . . We leave interpretation up to the viewer."

And a lot of viewers see, in Abercrombie & Fitch's makeover, a courting of gay men. "It is a known fact among the gay population that the cutest sales boys can be found in Abercrombie & Fitch stores," Levine says. "My college roommate is straight but he has his eyes open, and we went into Abercrombie & Fitch in a suburban Washington mall. He said, `What the hell is going on here? Look at these boys!' I said, `I am.' "

Anecdotal evidence indicates that the company has been successful in creating a buzz. Levine reports seeing increased numbers of gay men wearing Abercrombie & Fitch clothes. Others talk of ripping pages out of the quarterly or pulling ads out of Vanity Fair just to savor the images.

"I think we've made quite an impact across the board," Fogel says. "But we can't point to specific markets or neighborhoods where sales are hot."

That inability may, in fact, be indicative of the success of the campaign. "They're doing a brilliant job," Levine says. "They're not turning anyone off."

Source: Washington Post, August 7, 1998

Abercrombie & Fitch Male Model: Marty Cherry

Former Texas quarterback Marty Cherry didn't think anything could be more intimidating than walking down the tunnel of the Cotton Bowl for the Longhorns' annual clash with rival Oklahoma. Then he found himself in the company of supermodel Naomi Campbell as he was about to walk down the runway of the Versace fashion show in Milan, Italy, this summer.

"The runway is a lot more intimidating than the tunnel for Texas-OU," Cherry said. "In football, you have a helmet on and a bunch of players around you. On the runway, it's just you, and all the cameras and eyes are on you."

It may be one of the most bizarre audibles a college quarterback has made in recent history. But Cherry, a third-stringer for the Longhorns last year, managed to turn his lowest moment in sports into a very profitable modeling career and a possible venture into acting.

A square-jawed, aqua-eyed 22-year-old from Texarkana, Ark., Cherry bombed miserably when he entered what would become the Longhorns' worst-ever home loss, against UCLA in Week 2 of 1997.

Cherry threw incompletion after incompletion and had three turnovers - two interceptions and a fumble - that led to easy touchdowns for the Bruins.

Late in the game, which UCLA won, 66-3, an ABC camera honed in on Cherry as he watched dejectedly with his helmet off. The announcers joked that while he may not have been able to connect with his receivers, he would probably have no trouble finding a date with such an impressive mug.

Enter Bruce Weber, one of the world's top photographers of male models, who just happened to be catching the game on television.

Weber had an assistant track down Cherry about two weeks later and propose that he attend a four-day shoot for Abercrombie & Fitch in Los Angeles. Such a high-profile layout would all but guarantee the quarterback a chance to become a top model.

Cherry passed.

"I know I didn't play too well," Cherry recalled, his East Texas accent still detectable. "But just because I had one bad game, I wasn't going to give it up."

That sentiment changed, however, as the Longhorns collapsed, finishing the season 4-7.

"I just wasn't happy with the way things were going with the team," said Cherry, whose brother, Mike, is a backup quarterback for the NFL's New York Giants.

Given a second chance, Cherry attended another photo shoot by Weber for Abercrombie & Fitch in February in Miami.

That's all it took. For nearly nine months, Cherry has traded in black eye paint for blush, shoulder pads for Armani suits while traveling the world, staying in top hotels and making hundreds of dollars an hour.

He still studies film, only now it's soap operas caught between classes he's taking at Texas this semester for a business degree. He's still at least three semesters short of graduating.

Acting is the next step, he hopes.

"I watch the soaps to pick up a few pointers on acting," Cherry said. "A lot of the guys on soaps are former models."

Already, Cherry has become a frequent face for Chaps by Ralph Lauren, appearing in several ads of national publications.

It may not have been the way he wanted to get into Sports Illustrated, but his chiseled cheek bones have been in SI and Esquire, and on billboards all over the country. He is posed alone with a football on a Chaps marquee in Manhattan's Times Square.

"He's not quite a well-recognized face as of yet," said Cherry's agent, Rob Sadowsky. "But he's well on his way to higher standing."

Cherry carries a cell phone with him on campus and frequently gets only a day or two of warning from his agent before having to fly across the country for a shoot. He is investing most of the money he's made but splurged on a new Toyota Supra. The color? Cherry red, of course.

So what does Cherry's family think of all this back in Texarkana?

Younger sister Kelly has been hounded by her female classmates at the University of Central Arkansas. They want Marty to make a campus visit after seeing him on a Little Rock billboard.

Marty's brother is hoping the two can do a shoot together once the NFL season is over.

Their father, Mike Sr., says he'll support Marty in whatever he does, although he's a little worried about his son's shrinking weight and accent.

"Sometimes, it doesn't sound like him," said Mike Sr., who's 6-7 and a former high school basketball coach. "And I'm worried about him being anorexic. My grocery bills used to be sky high when he came home. Now, he nibbles on salad, baked chicken, shrimp, stuff like that."

Cherry, who at 6-2 has dropped nearly 25 pounds to get down to 175, might well have been starting at quarterback for Texas this season with Richard Walton having missed four games because of injury.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Major Applewhite said he misses Cherry.

"Marty's a fun guy," Applewhite said. "I'd probably tease him about giving up football. But on second thought, he's making the money and hanging out with all the pretty women.

"I need to ask him for a few models' autographs."

Source: Dallas Morning News, October 27, 1998

Abercrombie & Fitch Male Model: Jeff Popovich

Jeff Popovich
The new sex symbol on the University of Miami campus is an ``aw-shucks'' kind of guy who has a 3.6 grade-point average in biomedical engineering, writes thank-you letters, holds doors open and wants to be an orthopedic surgeon, geneticist or emergency-room doctor.

And if he ever needs a fallback, there's always modeling. Jeff Popovich, a 5-11, 195-pound senior safety known as ``Pop'' to his football teammates, can be found on shopping bags around the nation. Huge images of his scantily clad, buff body grace the walls of Abercrombie & Fitch clothing stores - think young, hip and pricey - where teenage girls (and UM football players) have been gawking. And guess who's on the cover of Abercrombie's 314-page summer catalog?

That's right. Just call him ``Model Pop,'' the new nickname for UM's 1998 Special Teams Player of the Year. You didn't think the guys in the weight room would let him off easy on this one, did you?

``Sex symbol!'' said Popovich, 21, breaking into a laugh. ``I never envisioned myself as one of those. My brother told me, `There's probably some really nice girl who's perfect for you and has your poster on her wall. And it's a tragedy you'll never find her.' ''

Popovich has no problems finding friends. UM coach Butch Davis has constantly showered praise on Popovich, who came to UM as a walk-on but earned a scholarship last season. Because of the emerging talent of players such as strong safety Edward Reed, Popovich no longer starts, but he rotates into games often. He holds for kicks and extra points and plays on the punt-block and kickoff-coverage units. He also threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Bubba Franks off a fake field goal against Pittsburgh in '97, ran back a fumble for a touchdown during his freshman season, and returned a fake field goal for a TD last season.

``He's unselfish, unegotistical, very conscientious, the consummate overachiever,'' Davis has said.

All that and looks, too.

Just last weekend, Entertainment Tonight rebroadcast a 90-second segment (out of four hours taped) of brothers Doug and Jeff on a South Florida beach to promote the football player-turns-model story. Doug, 25, is the other model splashed on Abercrombie & Fitch walls, and atop Jeff's shoulders on the shopping bags and in the catalog, too. Doug, who got his master's degree in environmental science from Yale last year, was a Division I-AA All-American safety at the University of San Diego.

Even Ivan Mercer, a UM tight end transfer from Orange Coast Junior College in Costa Mesa, Calif., is in the catalog. The 6-7, 230-pound blue-eyed blond, who can be found on page 50 with a female draped over his back, had no idea Popovich would show up separately for the modeling shoot on Islamorada last February.

UM officials have approved Popovich's modeling and are looking into Mercer's. Last August, the NCAA passed legislation that allows full-scholarship student-athletes to apply for an exception to earn $2,000 beyond their athletic grants. Popovich said each of the more than 30 models earned $500 daily for the three-day shoot.

When he was 8 years old, Popovich, brother Doug and sister Michelle, now 20, modeled several times for Guess Kids and appeared in Vogue Bambini - an Italian magazine - establishing a history in modeling. That shows, according to the NCAA rules, Popovich didn't use his status as a football player to secure the modeling job.

Penni Key, UM's assistant athletic director for compliance, said NCAA rules do not address non-sports agent issues, meaning a modeling agent not involved in athletics can be associated with an athlete.

The Popovich brothers do not even consider themselves models. The evolution of this recent venture began at Doug's Yale graduation party in May of '98. Doug's former roommate's mother was a casting director for famous fashion photographer Bruce Weber. She asked if she could grab her camera and take a few casual shots to show Weber. The brothers obliged, then forgot about it.

Nine months later, Jeff and Doug were on Islamorada.

When Popovich got the call that he had made the cover of the summer catalog, he couldn't believe it. But nothing compared to the day in April he visited the Abercrombie & Fitch at Dadeland Mall. Baseball cap pulled down snugly to ensure anonymity, Popovich nearly fainted when he saw the floor-to-ceiling mural of himself and his brother. There he was, sitting on the rail of a boat. There he was again, hoisting big brother on his shoulders. At least three shots covering the walls and another nine in the catalog.

And all those shopping bags circulating the mall . . .

``I felt so stupid,'' he said, laughing again. ``No way I wanted anyone to know it was me.''

Popovich's parents had to calm themselves when they first saw the murals while visiting the Mall of America in Minneapolis.

``We nearly fell over the second-floor railing,'' said Michael Popovich, 50. ``It was literally billboard size. We sat there and watched young girls touching their muscles.''

Michael Popovich, a computer systems engineer, and wife Alexis, a court mediator, live in Tucson, Ariz. Alexis, 49, said she finds the whole thing amusing.

``A lot of my friends are drooling over those pictures,'' she said.

Jeff's grandparents, Jack and Dee Sterling of Pompano Beach, are boasting a lot these days. But Grandma did send Michael and Alexis a note saying she and her husband would have approved more had ``the boys pulled up their swim trunks a little.''

Said Jack Sterling, 79: ``I'm sure if they knew it was something that concerned their grandparents, they would have pulled up their shorts. They're wonderful kids.''

UM backup quarterback Zach Hart, one of Popovich's roommates, said Popovich hid a copy of the catalog in his room. ``I saw it on his bed and said, `What's this?' '' Hart said. ``He just laughed and said, `Yeah, I guess I'm on the cover.' We went nuts.''

All in good fun, said Alexis Popovich, as long as Jeff doesn't get any strange ideas about making modeling a career. Doug, who was out of town and couldn't be reached to be interviewed, is still looking for a job in environmental science.

``Looks fade,'' Alexis said. ``Two days after the ad campaign ends, no one knows who you are. It's not a good basis for all of life, being just an image. You have to be of heart and soul and mind.''

Jeff said his mother need not worry. He loves playing football more than modeling and would rather make a medical discovery than be a pin-up.

``I'm not into the modeling scene and attitude,'' he said. ``It's too stressful to worry 24 hours a day, seven days a week about how you look and what you eat.

``Besides, I don't agree with the image they convey to young girls - super-thin models who girls everywhere try to emulate.

``Was it fun? Yes. Would I do it again in the future if I needed money? Probably. But it won't be what I end up doing.''

Source: Miami Herald, July 16, 1999

Abercrombie & Fitch Photographer

The renowned fashion photographer, having consented to a rare interview, has been standing in his Golden Beach back yard overlooking the ocean, telling stories of celebrity adventure, when the mere appearance of a Canon pointed in his direction drives him to fidget. His hands flutter and he seems uncertain what to do with them. He scurries back to the house.

He returns cradling his own camera, a Rolleiflex, as if for security, while waving a broad-brimmed straw hat, which he threatens to lower over his eyes if his unease persists.

"I hate being photographed," says Mr. Weber, whose fame lies in observing, not being observed. "I like to hide behind the camera."

What the world knows of Mr. Weber is how he sees the world: celebrity portraits as varied as Brad Pitt and Eudora Welty, film documentaries of boxers and jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, and most familiar of all, the Elysian photos of beautiful youth with which the world's leading fashion houses -- Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch -- present their brand on billboards, bus benches and the slick pages of W, Vogue and Vanity Fair.

His fashion shoots, for which he charges as much as $75,000 a day, have dominated the magazines for nearly two decades. They strike the eye most with models of unconventional beauty, arrayed according to contemporary standards of sexual expression and nudity, all strangely overlaid with an aura of innocence -- there's often the spirit of '50s Americana and rugged landscapes. The images are nearly always more arresting than the clothes.

Moreover, while stuck behind his camera, Mr. Weber has led a sexual revolution: He was among the first fashion photographers to pose men as sex objects in mainstream ads, bringing a gay sensibility to the broadest possible audience, most famously in 1983, capturing Olympic pole vaulter Tom Hintnaus in his Calvin Klein underwear. In effect, Mr. Weber was casting men in the passive sexual roles long relegated to women in advertising, and as controversial as that was, today "pecsploitation" is everywhere.

His other work is often more overtly gay -- his about-to-be-released book, The Chop Suey Club, features young model Peter Johnson in an array of poses dismissed by some as voyeuristic trash. As a recent New York Times essay put it: "Bruce Weber's the name, beefcake's the game."

For all the controversy, however, Mr. Weber, out from behind the lens, roaming around the Golden Beach home he stays in five months of the year, appears affable, rather shy, often funny at his own expense.

He is disposed to answering questions about his work by telling stories -- we hear of graceful Nelson Mandela and cranky Paul Newman and Matthew Modine before he was famous -- and he talks about the ordinary South Florida places he visits because, among other things, they stimulate his visual interest: the Rascal House, Le Tub in Hollywood and the Krispy Kreme doughnuts place on Northeast 167th Street, where he just finished shooting a major campaign for Abercrombie & Fitch.

At 53, he speaks with a teen-ager's casual indecision -- it is rare that he utters a thought without resorting to a "kind of" or "sort of" or "you know?" And he has a teen's habit of making declarative sentences sound like questions.

"One of the great things about being a photographer is that you can be shy," he says, his voice rising, as if testing the idea. "You know what I mean?"

Famous subjects

To hear his stories, in fact, it would seem that Mr. Weber is continually gathering up his moxie to confront his famous subjects through his lens, referring constantly to the trepidation with which he has forced his camera into the faces of the famous. Take the time he was assigned to photograph Paul Newman in 1988.

"My dad was really ill, living in Palm Beach, and I was taking care of him. I get this call from Esquire that Paul Newman is in the area and he's racing cars and we'd like to do a cover story on him. . . .

"So I get out there to his trailer at the race car circuit and this man arrives -- and he's nothing like Paul Newman. I go into his trailer and he's eating this tuna fish sandwich that he made himself. He sits down and starts reading the newspaper. He puts on not one but two pair of glasses to read.

"This is not like Paul Newman in the movies, right? Then he turns to me and he says, 'I'm so tired of people telling me my eyes are blue, how beautiful they are.'

"I said to myself, 'Do I want to just make a record of this man who wants to hide?' Then I thought, 'No. I don't believe this. I believe this man was in front of that camera because he really wanted the love and adulation. So I said to myself, 'Man, I'm not going to leave you, you . . . [expletive deleted].' "

So Mr. Weber dutifully followed Mr. Newman around the race grounds "putting my lens right up in his face. I was like this far from him," Mr. Weber says, holding his hands 6 inches apart, with teen-age can-you-believe-this bravado.

"But he's still not being Paul Newman.

"Then he says to me, 'Do we have the cover?'

"Now that is a strange reaction for a man who does not want to be seen, and I knew then that all along he wanted me to be able to think that he was as beautiful as he was in Hud and Sweet Bird of Youth and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. So I just turned to him and said, 'Newman, my dad is really sick, and I accepted this job because he looks a lot like you and I really love my father a lot. I really need to get these photographs done soon because I really need to get back home to him. I really want you to concentrate. For the next 10 minutes, I'm going to get out of your face. But you've got to be there for me. I want you to stop worrying whether your eyes are too blue or you don't look good enough.'

"He stood there, and he was so shocked that he just started acting like Paul Newman -- just like in the movies. I lay down on the ground -- I'll always remember it -- and he started looking at me like he looked at Patricia Neal and all those other women in the movies. This was Paul Newman."

Or take the time Mr. Weber was assigned to shoot Nelson Mandela. As is often the case with the famous, the photographer was given a very short time to work -- six minutes. So prior to the appointed time, Mr. Weber planned the shot: He positioned a chair, calculated the angle, gauged the light.

"Then it's my turn and all of a sudden the light changed. Everything was wrong -- and this guy was like an idol to me. I could feel my heart beating. I thought: What am I going to do?"

Mr. Weber, flustered, felt very small in Mr. Mandela's presence.

"I thought: I'm just a wacky photographer who grew up in small-town Pennsylvania and this man has done and suffered so much. What am I going to do?

"But everyone's life shows on their face. I decided to get very close to him, to look at his skin, into his skin, into his eyes that looked like they had cried a lot. Having a camera gave me the courage to get close to him. I was right there in his face."

Then Mr. Weber, who clearly attaches some significance to the proximity of the camera to the subject, stands eye-to-eye with a visitor and declares, "Like, I was this close to him."

First wave

Mr. Weber first went to South Florida for a 1985 shoot in South Beach, one of the first major photographers to do so, leading a wave of the glamour industry here that would become a key element in its renaissance.

"It was pretty weird -- we were working for Calvin Klein," he says of his first South Beach visit as a photographer. "We had come down with about 40 models and bodyguards because we had heard it was dangerous at night. But it turned out to be this great scene, this great mix of people. I started seeing the bodyguards hanging around in bathing suits and I said, 'Why don't you get in the pictures?' The next thing is we have the policemen in the pictures, too. That's how pictures happen. They're not so serious."

A sense of precious spontaneity is one of his hallmarks -- he is fond of saying "Everyone has a moment."

But Mr. Weber is also credited with a cinema director's fine sense of casting, story line and intuition about his actors. Even while shooting a friend's recent wedding at the Bath Club in Miami Beach, Mr. Weber insisted on introducing a live elephant as background. He frequently relies on books as his inspiration.

"Books and words help me a lot to form an understanding of what I want to do," he explains. "For instance, I was a great fan of Willa Cather, and I would spend like months reading everything that she wrote.

"So I called a friend of mine, Liz Tilberis, who was then the fashion editor of English Vogue, and I said, "You've got to read [the Cather novel] My Antonia and let's go to Red Claw, Nebraska, and let's join the Willa Cather club. These people know the tree where "My Antonia" stood. Let's bring some clothes and let's take some models that we'd like to photograph and let's do a story about Willa Cather.

"Meanwhile Liz was just adopting a child, so this was a big moment for her. So we met all the children in Red Cloud, Nebraska, so we put them all in our pictures. Then Matthew Modine, he was a young model then that nobody booked, and we took him and we took these girls that we knew -- they weren't like normal models but they were very, very beautiful, and then we met this kid who painted churches. So we had this whole experience about Willa Cather."

The results appeared in English Vogue.

Male call

Another of Mr. Weber's hallmarks is the fascination of male allure.

Although Mr. Weber has created some memorable images of women -- of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy on Vanity Fair's cover and the recent Perry Ellis campaign for men that featured only women models, "you'd have to be blind to look at my pictures and not think I like men," he says.

But while bulging, hairless pectorals are commonplace in advertising today, back in the '70s, even simple pictures Mr. Weber took of a man in underwear in bed caused a stir. His insistence on these images made him a pioneer.

"What was really incredible was that when those pictures came out the editor and art director at GQ and other places where I had just started working said, 'You'll never work again. These pictures are really disgusting. How could you show a guy like that?"'

Even today, however, Mr. Weber coyly downplays the erotic nature of many of his photographs, turning attention to the outrage he considers signs of intolerance.

"Homoeroticism -- I don't really know what that word means, but I kind of know what homophobia means."

And while Mr. Weber in much of his photography lingers over the bodies of teen-age males, he insists that youth is not required for a sexy photograph.

"If you asked me what the sexiest picture I ever took was," he says, "I would tell you Robert Mitchum, and I shot it when he was 72."

His work has provoked other philosophical questions as well. Is a photo of a young pretty just beefcake? Is fashion photography art? (His work will hang at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach in 2001.) But Mr. Weber is inclined at first to shrug these off as highfalutin and inessential: Words, not images.

"I mean, I think photographers talking about photography is just so out of it," he begins.

"When I first wanted to be a photographer, photographers were seen but never heard -- they were like children -- and I kind of liked that. I mean when I looked at works of Cartier Bresson I knew he worked with a Leica and he lived in Paris and he grew up as a rich kid. But I didn't really know, like, what his address was in Paris. I didn't really know, like, who he was having an affair with. It kind of wasn't important because I felt like I knew what I needed to know from the pictures.

"Anyway, I've never felt that photography has to be art -- it just has to be photography.

"I think of all these great pioneers in American photography who did work selling -- pianos, beauty products, dresses. Edward Steichen put as much into those [commercial] photos showing buttons as he did photographing Isadora Duncan at the Parthenon.

"If you really love taking pictures, it's not going to matter that the photo will be used for an ad. I mean, the question is not 'Is it art?' The question is: 'Does it move you?"'

Source: Dallas Morning News, January 5, 2000

Abercrombie & Fitch Male Model: Jeremy Black

Jeremy Black
At UC Davis, Jeremy Black and Warren Kenzie are model students.High-priced models, in fact. Abercrombie & Fitch types. In demand.

The two also are respected athletes. Black, a junior, is a wrestler. Freshman Kenzie, a swimmer.

Seemingly, they are disparate worlds, modeling and college athletics. Yet Black and Kenzie have discovered similarities between the avocations, which require strong bodies, are highly competitive and can be humbling.

Black, who's been on his back more times than he cares to remember in wrestling matches, has gained greater notoriety with his backside in modeling.

Kenzie, a more accomplished athlete for whom great things have been predicted, knows the sting of summary rejection when he's competed for modeling jobs.

In the main, though, their success in modeling has been stunning. And perhaps more stunning, the two have put school and their sports ahead of jobs that pay $3,000 a day. They've both instructed their agent to hold off on any jobs until their athletic seasons are over this year.

That may seem suicidal in the modeling business, where trends and looks change often. Black and Kenzie don't seem to care.

"When you wrestle somebody and beat somebody you shouldn't beat, how good a feeling is that?" Black asked. "You've worked hard every day, pushing your body to the limit and then push it some more. Same with school. You study hard and get good grades.

"When somebody takes a picture of you standing there, and people like it, I didn't do anything for that. I was just given a look. . . a look that sells something for somebody."

Kenzie, too, said modeling can wait.

"Assuming I don't go bald in the next four years, I can always do modeling after college," Kenzie said. "I'm a chemical engineer major, and I want to get my degree out of the way. After that, I may go to New York, Europe and make some money modeling, have a little fun."

Both have the the same agent, Carmelo Pizzuto. Pizzuto is concerned about the black eye or cut nose Black may show up with, or the green swimmer's hair Kenzie may get. But he understands why they reject job offers.

"It goes back to what is important to them," Pizzuto said. "I actually like models who have lives other than modeling. I think our clients like it too. I have a client in L.A. who wanted Jeremy just a couple of weeks ago, but I had to tell him he couldn't come because he had a wrestling match. He got a kick out of that."

Black wasn't recruited to wrestle at Davis and had no modeling experience coming out of Diamond Bar High School, 50 miles east of Los Angeles. Kenzie was recruited for the Aggies' swim team and modeled his senior year at Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo.

"He was a walk-on," Aggies coach Mike Burch said of Black's appearance at Davis four years ago. "His technical skill level wasn't anywhere close to what I considered him to be competitive. But he really loves the sport, the camaraderie on the wrestling team. He's been a backup since he got here, but in the practice room, he is as tough as nails. Our starters have a bona fide workout partner with him.

"He has passed up many a modeling gig for wrestling, something I have never asked him to do. I told him the money is good and he is not going to be good-looking forever and to take the jobs. He won't do it."

Peter Motekaitis, the Aggies swimming coach, expects Kenzie, who swims the individual medley and breast stroke, to have an immediate impact on the swim team.

"He has come in with good times and has a good track record of being a big-meet swimmer," Motekaitis said.

"The one thing I can say about Warren is that he is pretty good-natured. I told my assistant coach that modeling is easy money, but dealing with the guys (teammates) and their ribbing, day in and day out, I don't care how easy the money is."

Black was discovered by noted fashion photographer Bruce Weber when he was attending a high school wrestling camp in Iowa in 1996. Weber often attends such wrestling camps, looking for new faces. He offered Black a chance for some jobs that year and the next, but Black politely declined.

Just before finals of his sophomore year, Black went home to attend a funeral. Again the offer to model. This time Weber was shooting for an Abercrombie & Fitch clothing catalog, and Black, who was "a little bummed out over school and wrestling," decided to give modeling a chance.

Black joined 29 other kids at Lake Placid, N.Y., where the shoot was taking place. After two days of shooting, 20 were sent home. Black survived, even became the star when a playful mishap not only opened the door for him but changed the way Abercrombie & Fitch presented its catalogs.

While Black was waiting his turn to be shot, he was standing on a dock leaning on a boat. The boat started to slide and Black fell in the water. Weber turned his camera to all the commotion and started taking pictures of Black splashing and fooling around.

"Then the Abercrombie & Fitch fashion guy gets all upset, crying "You got my clothes wet, you got my clothes wet' and that I have to take them off," Black recalled. "I kick off my boots and hop onto the dock. Bruce asks if I can go a little further. I take my shirt off and then jump back into the water and take off my pants and boxers. It is at that point that they stage this shot of me climbing out of the water to the dock, reaching for my clothes."

It was that shot -- buttocks side up -- that appeared in the Abercrombie & Fitch Christmas catalog in 1998 that eventually made headlines of whether Abercrombie & Fitch had crossed the line from clothes catalog to pornography.

Black stayed in New York that summer, working as much as he wanted. The money, the experiences -- "I never knew the different ways of life, the different lines of work," he said -- presented Black with the delemma of staying in New York or returning to school. He chose school.

"I decided wrestling is what I wanted to focus on," Black said. "Which means I'm based in Davis, which is very hard because the money in modeling is in New York."

Kenzie, who had five posters splattered in all the Abercrombie & Fitch stores last Spring, was swimming in a high school meet his junior year when a photographer took some pictures of him, told him he should be a model, and offered to make a portfolio for him for free.

Two months later Kenzie got an agent and then landed the Abercrombie & Fitch assignment. It was during that shoot that Black helped lure Kenzie to Davis.

"We met on the plane going to New York," Kenzie said. "I was thinking about going to Arizona and wasn't too keen on Davis. But Jeremy made Davis sound like a really cool place to go to school. I looked into it a little more seriously and I'm glad I came here."

The quick fame, easy money and notoriety have not changed the two. But it has made life more interesting. And humbling.

"Sometimes you go to a testing, give them your (portfolio), and they flip through it and then give it back to you without saying a word," Kenzie said. "It's like they are not even interested, and they really make you feel bad."

But a quick walk around the Davis campus and the self-esteem rebounds.

"I come into a classroom and hear "Oh, that's the Abercrombie & Fitch model,' " Black said. "But even though it seems like everybody knows me or of me, I still have to initiate things and say hi."

Said Kenzie: "It's easier for me to meet girls but harder for me to meet people, make friends, really good friends," Kenzie said.

"I went into an Abercrombie & Fitch store to buy some clothes when my pictures were still up, and some girls said "Oh my God, it's him.'

"Of course, when some people recognize me I also hear, "What's the big deal? He's not that good-looking.' "

Source: Sacramento Bee, January 20, 2000

Abercrombie & Fitch Male Model: Carl Arrell

One day, he is Carl Arrell, a University of Minnesota student from Brooklyn Park. The next, he's Jed Washburn of Abercrombie & Fitch, and he's a screensaver. Arrell, 20, is available to adorn your idle computer screen wearing the peekaboo-briefs getup shown here, courtesy of abercrombie.com. Arrell has been living in New York City since his A&F break, which includes the role of "Jed Washburn" in the preppy clothing company's seasonal catalog (titled "A Very Emerson Christmas"). "I actually didn't know anything about the story," said Arrell, via cell phone. "They just sort of place you in the shot and make it up later." A&F forwards him fan mail, mostly from girls who "write stuff like, `I'd love to meet you sometime,' " he said, not sounding too excited, since most of them are going on 12. But as R. "Dubya" Emerson himself put it: "To . . . win the affection of children . . . to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

Source: Star Tribune, December 1, 2000

Abercrombie & Fitch Male Model: Carlson Twins

The handsome hunks on the cover of Abercrombie & Fitch's ``A & F Quarterly,'' the hip clothing company's new spring ``magalogue,'' might look somewhat familiar to those in the Stillwater area - from the waist up, at least.

The models are Kyle and Lane Carlson, identical twins and 1997 graduates of Stillwater Area High School.Normally, the Winona State University seniors who work at their father's construction company are fully clothed. But the cover shot features them on a Vespa scooter - nearly naked.

The racy photos continue inside the spring break issue of the ``Quarterly.'' There are the muscular twins diving naked into a pond, standing naked in some cattails next to the pond, playing next to a pool with topless women. In another shot, a group of young women remove their clothes.

The twins discuss the nude shots matter-of-factly and maturely. ``We knew there was going to be some nudity - we'd seen the catalog before - but they show no frontal shots,'' Lane says. ``It's always tastefully done.''

They talked it over with their folks - Rick and Judy Carlson of Stillwater Township - and ``they were cool with everything,'' Lane says. ``My parents are really down to earth and really cool. They trust us. We know our limitations.''

Rick Carlson, who owns Carlson Construction Services Inc., says he did some Internet research on Bruce Weber after he learned that the famous photographer would be shooting his sons. ``I think it was tastefully done,'' he says. ``It was more of a camping atmosphere than a sexual thing. Besides that, the water was so cold that all they could think about was trying to stay warm.''

The well-built business majors, who work out together three to five times a week, got into modeling as a fluke. Lane's girlfriend, Rayna Hendrickson, convinced him to go to a model search at a La Crosse, Wis., hotel one day while they were shopping. As soon as he walked in the door, a scout approached him about modeling. He says her mouth started watering and ``her interest doubled'' when she found out he had an identical twin.

The twins embody the ``All-American wholesome youth lifestyle'' that Abercrombie & Fitch promotes, said Christian Galuppi, a spokesman for the clothing company. The ``magalogue'' is shrink-wrapped due to the nudity and purposely geared to 18- to 25-year-olds, he said. The twins also appear on the front and back cover of the company's spring catalog and are featured prominently on billboards in stores around the country.

Each ``A & F Quarterly'' features new models, so the 300,000-circulation spring issue was Lane and Kyle's one shot at Abercrombie & Fitch stardom.

The company recently flew the twins to New York City for a ``magalogue'' party. They and their parents were featured in a ``Talk of the Town'' piece on the party in last week's ``New Yorker.'' The Carlson family also includes the twins' siblings Michelle, 26; Aaron, 24; and Lynnaya, 20.

``We met Ginger from `Gilligan's Island' and one of the Baldwins. Which one of the Baldwins was it, Jude? Steve Baldwin,'' says Rick Carlson, still somewhat star-struck.

The Carlson boys have also posed in ``L'Uomo Vogue'' and will also appear in a 10-page ``Details'' magazine spread in April. And then there's talk that a Bruce Weber film based on the twin's lives might be in the pipeline. ``He was interested in our growing up in Stillwater,'' Lane says. ``It would be about our life, with extra things involved.''

The 22-year-old twins have started taking acting classes at Winona State. ``We enjoy it. We're not the greatest actors or anything,'' he says. ``We're not going to take over the soap operas or anything.''

Their modeling work has taken them to Santa Barbara, Calif., Miami and New York. ``It's not a whole lot of work when you're doing it. The problem is trying to schedule it,'' Lane says. ``We're both in sports, both in school. They want me to do a shoot back in Minneapolis when I'm in Florida for (baseball) spring training.'' Lane is a relief pitcher for the Winona State baseball team; Kyle plays rugby.

The twins are paid anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 a day ``on the big jobs,'' Lane says. ``We've made some money. It comes in handy for paying off tuition, rent, car payment.''

And for now, he and Kyle plan to continue their high-profile part-time jobs.

``People had always said we should do it, but we had always been kind of standoffish on the whole modeling thing. `No, that's not our style,''' Lane says. ``But when the opportunity presented itself, we said `What the heck.' We never would have guessed that in a million years that it would have turned out like this.''

Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 8, 2001

Abercrombie & Fitch Modeling Recruiting

Front Row profile of Olga Liriano, casting director in world of fashion, who looks for models; photo (M)"Not too long ago, I saw this beautiful guy walking down the street and I walked up to him," Olga Liriano recalled a few mornings ago as she made her way through scrambled eggs, studiously avoiding the encroaching potatoes. "He was Australian. He was so beautiful. I tried to get his number but he just wouldn't give it to me, so I gave him mine."

Though her comportment in the presence of attractive strangers would suggest otherwise, Ms. Liriano is not the city's most egregious flouter of "The Rules." She belongs to the world of those who have license to approach the physically advantaged. She is a casting director, and one of a very particular sort.In recent years, as fashion photography has become more narrative, images have required more bodies and faces with which to tell a story, and the industry has turned to Ms. Liriano and a handful of others to provide them. "Everyone needs a casting director all of a sudden," said Sam Shahid, president of Shahid & Company, an advertising agency that services fashion clients.

The need for Ms. Liriano and other casting agents -- freelancers who comb bars, college campuses, bowling alleys, whatever -- has also grown as a result of the premium fashion now puts on a look that veers away from the ethereal toward the real. Additionally, as Mr. Shahid put it, "everyone wants a new face, and no one has time to find that new face anymore." Modeling agencies "tell you how fabulous" all the models are, he added, "and most of the time they're dogs."

A voluptuous brunette with cheeks the color of a strawberry Starburst, Ms. Liriano started working as an independent casting director for fashion photographers about a year ago, after a decade of booking models at magazines and supplying them at agencies. This week she is in Puerto Rico helping to select 10 finalists for the Miss Universe pageant on Friday -- a more fashion-oriented spectacle than usual, which will have as its hosts Naomi Campbell and Elle Macpherson.

"She's really the person you want to get to know," a male model just starting out said of Ms. Liriano.

Midway through her breakfast at a cafe in Greenwich Village, Ms. Liriano pointed to a picture of a young man in the fall 2000 Abercrombie & Fitch catalog, which she helped cast for the photographer Bruce Weber. "This one I found in a gas station," she said of the young man, dancing in a Santa Claus hat.

In the case of another picture she held -- Gisele Bundchen leaving Grace Church, shot by Steven Klein for American Vogue -- Ms. Liriano was hired to find extras who looked like people who might pass through the portals of a house of worship. "These two," Ms. Liriano said, referring to an older couple in the photo, "I approached in a restaurant." She befriended them, and they invited her to a New Year's Eve party. "I am not shy," Ms. Liriano said, stating the obvious.

Part of the appeal of working with Ms. Liriano, Mr. Weber said, is that she takes a Barbara Walters approach, asking questions beyond "What's your body-fat percentage?"

Ms. Liriano has also worked with Mr. Weber on shoots for the men's and women's editions of Italian Vogue and an ad campaign for Tse cashmere. "She can take a Polaroid of someone who isn't beautiful and show you what's beautiful about them," Mr. Weber said. "Once she found a guy, and I would have never known he was a dancer and planned to be sculptor. It changed the way I looked at him."

Of course, not all of Ms. Liriano's searches end in success, and not all of them focus on unearthing the person inside. In January, she went to Minneapolis to find new bodies for Abercrombie & Fitch. "It was hard to look at people, because they were all bundled up," she said. "Also, it's winter and everyone's drinking beer and has beer bellies." She found no one.

There have been other frustrations. Ms. Liriano was recently hired by Assouline, the publisher and design firm, to find a model for a direct-mail catalog it is producing for Ralph Lauren's Purple Label men's line. She thought to seek out writers and architects for the role, among others. "Ralph rejects everyone," Ms. Liriano said. Her directive has been to find a man who is a mix of Sam Shepard, Gary Cooper and Cary Grant. "Well, yeah, I'm looking for that guy, too," Ms. Liriano said. "Isn't everybody?"

Source: New York Times, May 8, 2001

Abercrombie & Fitch Male Model: Carlson Twins

The Carlson twins of Stillwater were always cute kids. No bad acne. No ugly geeky stage, although Lane remembers a period when he thought he and his brother Kyle's noses were too big.

``People sometimes said, `They're nice-looking boys,' and I'd think, `Yeah, they're all right,' '' said their mom, Judy.

But no one anticipated the day when the twins would earn up to $2,500 a day - each - to pose in front of a camera.

``It honestly came as a shock,'' Judy said. ``I'm still surprised people would pay them money to stand there in a pair of jeans.''

Or to drop their jeans, as the twins did when they first grabbed national eyeballs in the 2001 spring Abercrombie & Fitch catalog, in which the nude and semi-nude models attracted more attention than the clothes.

The twins, now 23, were students at Winona State University when the catalog hit. Now, with degrees in business administration, they're ready to capitalize on their assets full time.

The budding businessmen have formed a corporation, Double Take Inc., designed to leverage their modeling income to finance real estate investments. They bought and renovated their first house, a fixer-upper in Winona, Minn., and are renting it out, part of a five-year plan to acquire five rental properties. They have a Web site (http://www.thecarlsontwins.com) and two new posters: one arty black and white, one in color with a patriotic theme, both showcasing their famously taut torsos.

``People were selling our pictures on e-Bay,'' said Lane, the older and taller twin. ``So we decided to sell some posters ourselves.

``We think of modeling as a business. A lot of models get money and don't know what to do with it, so they spend it on clothes and cars. We set up IRAs and put money aside to spend on things that make you money.''

Home base remains Stillwater, where the twins share a basement bedroom at their parents' house when they're both in town, which isn't often. With Judy bustling nearby in the kitchen, the twins talked last week about their lives and plans.

``We have the same friends; we've always hung out together,'' said Kyle, the slightly more muscular twin. They roomed together, along with three friends, during college and, until recently, have always shared a car. But now, although they made their name posing side-by-side, they're doing more work separately, jetting between New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago. ``It's more lucrative to work in different places,'' Kyle said. ``If we're together, we're competing for the same jobs.''

Just two snapshots

Those jobs weren't even on their mental radar two years ago when a scout approached Lane at a hotel and asked if he'd ever modeled. ``I didn't really like the idea,'' he recalled. ``Growing up in a construction family, I couldn't really see saying, `Dad, I'm gonna be a model.' ''

He was intrigued enough to mention that he had an identical twin, however, which further piqued the scout's interest. After talking it over, the twins decided it might be a good way to make some extra money to finish paying for college.

At first they kept their plans a secret. ``We didn't tell our parents or girlfriends,'' Lane said. They went to a Minneapolis event offering would-be models a chance to meet with agents. Lacking a portfolio, they showed up with two snapshots. ``We went to a one-hour photo and had the lady take a picture of us.''

The twins were ``overwhelmed'' when 18 agents called them back, Kyle said. ``We didn't know what to do.''

When they finally told their parents, their dad, Rick, said, ``Why keep it a secret?''

Within three months, the twins landed the A&F catalog. ``We were warned by our agent: `If you're not comfortable getting nude, don't do it,' '' Kyle said. ``It was tastefully done.''

``Not to mention that Mom would strangle you if it wasn't,'' Judy said. ``Nudity is one thing - it's beautiful - but posing for erotic pictures is pornography. . . . If I saw groping or passionate embracing, that would be over the line.'' In the Abercrombie pictures, ``they're just frolicking, like a bunch of 4-year-olds.''

``Grandma has seen the catalog,'' Kyle said. ``She just laughs.''

Different goals

Modeling is a means to an end for both twins, but their ultimate goals are different. Lane is taking acting classes in hopes of landing a soap opera or other TV role and eventually working his way into films. ``I'd like to be like Vin Diesel, in an action movie,'' he said.

Kyle, while open to ``little roles'' in movies, is more interested in getting a pilot's license and taking over his father's construction company some day. ``I'd like to be my own boss - a real estate tycoon,'' he said with a grin. ``I'm a homebody. I like to be close to my family.''

How else are they different? ``I'm a little bit more on time,'' Kyle said.

In high school, Judy said, ``Kyle would be halfway down the driveway, and Lane would come running out, eating his breakfast.''

Lane doesn't dispute this. ``I'm a little more outgoing than he is,'' Lane said. ``I'm more business-oriented. I take on a lot more. I want to do everything.''

``You're late to everything,'' Kyle said.

Derek Johnson of Stillwater, a friend since junior high and one of their roommates in college, agreed that Lane is more outgoing. ``Kyle's more reserved, but he opens up once you get to know him. . . . Lane is a little more gung-ho, take-charge, a little more into this whole modeling thing. Kyle is more laid-back about it.''

Their day rate is $1,250 to $2,500, with the rate varying by client and location. Larger clients in fashion centers such as New York City tend to pay more.

The twins spent their down time this summer helping their dad at construction sites, doing chores for their mom (``I save up all kinds of evil things for them,'' Judy said), and unwinding by playing in the family horseshoe league. ``It's a good chance to bond with Grandpa,'' Lane said. Most of their relatives live nearby. (The twins have an older sister, Michelle, an older brother, Aaron, and a younger sister, Lynnaya.)

Modeling ``hasn't ballooned their heads,'' Johnson said. ``They definitely have a little more money than the rest of us, but they don't flaunt it.'' They have changed, however. ``They're getting a lot smarter, business-wise. They've matured a lot.''

Judy is happy to see them succeed, ``but it's more important to me that they be nice kids.'' Which they are, she added. ``They said, `Make a promise that if you see any change in our behavior, you'll knock us to our knees.' '' Has she had to make good on that promise? ``Not once. Some kids are just born easy.''

Easy, but not perfect. In junior high, they admit, they occasionally prepared for tests by each studying a different subject, then taking that test twice, once as themselves and once as each other. ``The kids knew; the teacher had no clue,'' Lane said.

And Kyle recalls a junior high prank involving a girl who had a crush on Lane. Kyle borrowed Lane's hat and asked her out. Later, when the flustered girl discovered Kyle's ruse, she slapped Lane. ``That was the meanest thing I've ever done,'' Kyle said.

Gay fans

The twins aren't gay, but a lot of their fans wish they were. ``After Abercrombie, we had a huge fan base of gay men,'' Kyle said. They're OK with that. ``We don't mind guys looking at us.'' They do, however, mind when people insist that they must be gay, despite their assertions to the contrary. (Lane is still dating the woman he met ``the first day of college;'' Kyle's girlfriend is a student at Winona State.)

``I found myself getting very irritated in the beginning,'' Lane said. ``But I know who I am.''

And they really mind when their photos appear without their permission on gay-themed Web sites. ``A lot of these photos are my head on some other guy's body,'' Kyle said. ``That really bothers me. You have to stay on top of it. Every week a new site is coming up.'' (One offending site, which posted a nude outtake from the A&F shoot, removed it last week at Kyle's request.)

One of the twins' clients, the Mall of America, targets their gay fans with full-page ads showcasing them together, often shirtless, in Lavender, a Twin Cities gay/lesbian magazine. ``That campaign has a strong following,'' said Jeff Hoke, director of marketing for the Mall of America. The ads generate a lot of positive e-mail and ``reaction from people on the street.'' The mall also uses the twins in mainstream magazines, such as People, InStyle and Wallpaper, and in local magazines such as Mpls/St. Paul and Minnesota Monthly. In June, Hoke said, the mall ran a Father's Day ad showing the twins posing with their dad.

The twins' sexual orientation is sometimes a topic in messages posted to their Web site. For now, they respond to every message - ``If someone's going to take the time to e-mail us, we owe it to them to personally write them back,'' Lane said.

Enquiring minds also want to know whether the twins shave their chests (no) and what they do to maintain those bodies (an hour of weight training three or four times a week, plus situps every night). Mostly, the twins attribute their physiques to their gene pool. ``Dad is still really built and he doesn't work out at all,'' Kyle said. ``Lucky genetics.''

Source: Star Tribune, September 22, 2002

Abercrombie & Fitch Male Model: Brad Kroenig

Brad Kroenig

Mark and Barb Kroenig never thought the walls at an Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store could be so interesting. Forget the jeans and flannel shirts on the racks. In the spring of 2001, they wanted to see the poster of the blond young man wearing a suit jacket and tie riding a bicycle.

"The first time we saw it, we started taking pictures of the wall," Belleville native Mark said. The poster featured their younger son Brad.

Like his dad, Mark, who was a standout athlete at Belleville Township High School West, Brad was a soccer standout at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Now he's turning heads in the modeling world.

"I wanted to play for a Division I school, so I transferred to Florida International University," said the 22-year-old who has shoulder-length, golden, wavy locks. "A couple of girls from school said, `You should model.'"

His brother Matt, 24, and sister Julie, 21, had modeled in St. Louis, but back then Brad wasn't interested.

"I thought it was kinda girlish."

But the athletic guy changed his mind when some of his male friends decided to apply at a Florida-based branch of the Ford Modeling Agency.

"I heard that it was working for some guys and they went right into a job, so I decided to try it."

He had some professional photos taken, which generated a few local modeling jobs that provided extra cash while going to school and playing soccer.

Soon the photos were getting noticed and Brad was told he had "the look" for modeling --- a toned, lean physique and killer smile. He quickly decided to pursue modeling full time which meant quitting school and moving to Miami's South Beach.

Then came the trickiest part --- telling his parents back home in south St. Louis County.

"At first we were shocked," said mom, Barb. "I said `Brad, you're on a soccer scholarship. Why do you want to give that up?'"

Brad explained he had to be flexible enough to go to impromptu photo shoots and couldn't do that on his school schedule.

"It's a day-by day thing, when you get that call from the agency, you have to be ready to do anything and go anywhere."

The Kroenigs had a family chat and reached a compromise.

"There are a lot of scams. We talked about everything for a few days. I said I would finish out the semester."

Mark didn't want to discourage his son but wanted him to be realistic.

"We told him he could try it for a year and see what happened," Mark said. "We reminded him this could disappear as quickly as it came on."

Within days of making his decision, Brad got the call for the Abercrombie shoot in San Francisco.

"I was at the airport waiting for my connecting flight and a guy was scouting for models, and he said, `You should model for Abercrombie' and I said, `That's where I'm going.'"

Clean-shaven at the time, with short, blond hair, the ad features Brad dressed conservatively --- dark suit jacket, tie and khakis.

By June 2001, posters were up in stores nationwide, including the one at St. Clair Square. His career was taking off and he decided to move to the Big Apple so he could work with well-known photographers. He moved to a small apartment 14 blocks from the World Trade Center eight days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"I was supposed to go for a fitting at 9 that morning and then I heard all these sirens. That was cancelled. After Sept. 11, Ford cut a lot of their models, but I was still able to get jobs."

Early this year, Brad got another break advertising for Maxim's men's hair color.

A few months later, he got his big break.

"I got $35,000 total that day for the shoot."

Brad's check was so high because the company decided almost immediately to use his photo on all boxes of the bleach blond color and market them extensively.

Since then, Brad has let his hair grow and has grown a light beard --- it's the current look.

"The long hair is more my style, but I like casual clothes," Brad said of his lightweight short-sleeve shirt and jeans. "But you have to switch it up a little and be willing to look edgier. I'd be willing to shave my head to try a new look."

He's also made numerous trips to Paris, Milan and Germany.

"When I was in Miami, I went back and forth to Germany three times in 16 days."

So, how does Brad keep his 6-foot 1-inch frame lean?

"I eat lots of chicken, fruits and vegetables --- high protein and low carbs."

When he comes home home, Brad admits, he has a weakness for the apple streudel frozen custard from Ted Drewes.

He also runs 3 to 5 miles daily and does abdominal crunches and weight lifting.

"They don't want you to bulk up. You have to stay lean to fit in the clothes."

He talks to his parents almost daily, and when he has a new ad coming out, Barb and Mark share it with his grandmother, Eyleen Kroenig of Belleville, and his maternal grandparents Dale and Martha Burns in Tuscola.

So, what does this up-and-coming runway star like most about modeling?

"Traveling, meeting all the interesting people and the ladies."

He's rubbed elbows with Mike Tyson in Miami Beach and has met Daryl Hannah.

Brad said Tyson struck up a conversation with him, and at least for that short time didn't live up to his well-publicized bad-boy image. Hannah was friendly, chatting with him about the business during another photo shoot.

Brad doesn't have trouble getting dates, but said he doesn't have a steady girlfriend right now.

He plans to stay in the business for as long as he can.

"It's very competitive and there really are a lot more jobs for women. For men, if you stay fit and looking young, you can keep it up."

Source: Belleville News-Democrat, September 22, 2002

XXAbercrombie & Fitch Female Model: Laura Lee Phillips

Disocvery and the world of modeling came a bit easy for Abercrombie and Fitch female model Laura Lee Phillips. Although not a native Southerner, this Abercrombie and Fitch hottie model rose from a Raleigh mall store to breathe new life into the concept of Dixie Chicks. One minute she was flying on a plane when another passenger (a modeling scout) spotted her in the seat, the next minute she was winging it in the world of international fashion modeling. While her Abercrombie and Fitch shoot drew some raised eyebrows and more than a little concern for its nudity and suggestive content, Phillips sees it all as good clean fun. There was a time when her fresh-faced collegiate beauty would have stirred the hearts(and probably a few other organs) of the Campus Men producers. Too bad that female models tend to be a bitch to work with - leaving Campus Men to thrive in the world of male-only modeling.

RALEIGH--Heads turn as Laura Lee Phillips makes her way across the Abercrombie & Fitch store in Crabtree Valley Mall, but she doesn't notice.

She moves with the ease of someone accustomed to drawing stares.

Her admirers -- grinning adolescent boys, men over 40 darting discreet glances and women giving her the catty once-over -- can't be faulted.

Glossy blond hair tumbles down her back. A clingy white cropped top reveals a band of skin at her waist and a tiny gecko tattoo. Low-cut blue jeans hug her hips and long legs. A warm smile lights her face.

It isn't every day a specimen of physical perfection strolls through their midst.

Phillips, 24, a model featured in the racy Abercrombie Christmas catalog that has outraged pundits and parents alike, is back in Raleigh on this day before Thanksgiving to share the holiday with family.

She's also stopping by the Crabtree Abercrombie, a chain mecca for the young and hip, where she worked as a high school senior. It has changed since the days Phillips worked a cash register. The store, and the brand, have become edgier, with its trademark, sexually suggestive catalog drawing complaints every year.

This year, the company pulled the Christmas issue from stores just days before Phillips' Crabtree visit. A spokesman insists controversy played no part.

"I'm very proud of it, and my mom and dad are proud of it," Phillips says of the catalog. "My friends all think it's great, too."

Her mother, Pam Phillips, admits to initial "mixed emotions" about the catalog. But, she says, the family supported Laura's decision -- a choice her daughter made after much thought.

"You can get all hung up on it, but I sat down, and I had to think who makes the determination of when nudity is art and when it isn't?" Pam Phillips says.

Catalog aside, Phillips' image gets plenty of play at the Crabtree Abercrombie. The store, humming with the bustle of shoppers and piped-in techno-beat music, has one room where three photos of her canoodling with a male model dot the walls. A giant, blow-up of Phillips and four other seemingly nude, buff young people decorates a back wall.

But not a single shopper approaches her. Not even the ones savvy enough to realize the sweet-faced young woman before them is the same one smiling down from the walls. They snicker and sneak peeks instead.

Born in Ohio, Phillips moved to Raleigh when she was 10 with her parents, John and Pam, and two siblings. She graduated from Leesville Road High School in 1997 with another classmate who recently made a big splash -- Clay Aiken.

In 2001, she earned a degree in psychology at the University of South Carolina. On a plane to Ohio that same year, a modeling scout approached and asked her to have professional photos taken.

She did, and that summer an Italian agency invited her to model in Europe. But the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, made Phillips leery of travel.

In December, the Italians called again, and this time Phillips said yes.

"I figured if nothing comes of it, it's a free trip to Europe," she says. She spent the next six months modeling in Italy, Germany, France and Spain.

She twice graced the cover of Italy's Bella magazine, before moving back to the States and settling in Atlanta where her boyfriend, a sales manager for Miller Beer, lives.

"He sells beer and dates a model. His friends say he has a great life," Phillips laughs.

Nowadays, Phillips is represented by the Elite modeling agency. Elite agent Victoria Duruh booked her the Abercrombie job.

"I knew Laura would be a great fit," Duruh says. "She's very all-American, innocent, really fresh, a great figure, of course, and a fun spirit."

A pack of 40 models trooped to the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York last July to shoot the catalog amid that region's spectacular natural beauty. A set closed to onlookers and a low-key crew made frolicking au naturel easier, Phillips says.

Only her chest and the top of her buttocks appear in the catalog. She says she'd never bare more than that for the camera.

Her next modeling gig? Miami where she'll be shooting various catalogs in January. After that, who knows?

Phillips says she'll keep modeling as long as it fits into the scheme of her life.

"It's like any other career to me," she says. "If you're having fun and it's yourself, go for it."

Source: The News & Observer, December 4, 2003