HUGO’S NEW BOSS: It’s a balmy day in late October and Charlie Siem is dressed like your average 28-year-old guy who is here to tour New York.
This story first appeared in the November 26, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
He arrives at the Park Hyatt hotel in Midtown clad in a navy zip-up jacket, jeans and a pair of sneakers. Unlike your average tourist, however, Siem carries a tattered, threadbare violin case, similar to that of a street performer or road-worn musician. The difference here is that inside, there’s a Guarneri del Gesù violin from 1735 known as the d’Egville, which Siem will play the following night at Carnegie Hall.
Before slipping into his usual uniform of a tailored suit and tie, Siem, a concert violinist and occasional model, ruminated about his next gig as the face of Hugo Boss.
His narrative of how he nabbed the spring campaign, which was shot by Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin in Chelsea, is pretty straightforward.
“I’ve got a close mutual friend with [Hugo Boss creative director] Jason Wu, who suggested me,” Siem said. “That’s about it.”
With that terse response, he glossed over his prior modeling experience, which includes editorial shoots in Vogue, CBS Watch magazine, as well as a shoot in Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld’s book “The Little Black Jacket: Chanel’s Classic Revisited.” He has also appeared in Dunhill’s ad campaign and more recently, he was the face of Giorgio Armani’s Eau de Nuit fragrance.
But the Londoner would rather talk about the violin — his passion since he was three years old — and his life as a performer.
“The violin is like having a relationship with someone or something. You’ve got to compromise,” he said. “I’ve learned from experience about discipline.”
Siem, who would perform a third time at Carnegie Hall, admitted that even though he is playing in one of the smaller halls, he does still experience preperformance jitters.
“To be nervous is to be confronting something that’s not natural to you. You’re in exactly the right place when you’re facing that aspect of you,” offered Siem. “Nothing bad, really, can happen. If you have the courage and the generosity to go on stage, then you’ve already won. You’re already doing something that is beautiful. To me, this is a good thing because it forces you to get to a higher level and to transcend the person you are every day. I like the idea of transforming on the stage to become a better person.”