The skyrocketing career of today’s most in-demand Slovak male model, Filip Hrivnak, is a story of overnight success: The ex-hockey player turned Versace boy and Mert & Marcus sweetheart has been modeling for only two years. Hrivnak’s professional portfolio includes editorials for W, GQ and Vogue Hommes International, to name a few. Though his career has taken on global reach, his hometown remains the Slovak capital of Bratislava, where his agency Exit is based. WWD met up with Hrivnak in Prague for the closing runway presentation at Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Weekend.
WWD: How did you start modeling?
Filip Hrivnak: As a teenager, I never thought I would become a model and I definitely never planned for that. I mainly focused on hockey but when I got injured, I took a break from sports and decided to try my luck by contacting the model agency Exit. They signed me and a month later I was opening the Givenchy show and got booked for their look book. From that point on the avalanche of requests began.
WWD: What was your first big job?
F.H.: I definitely owe my career to Mert & Marcus. They booked me for my first big editorial in W magazine, called “Supernormal Supermodels.” We shot for 10 hours in London and I got to work with Kate Moss, who was very sweet. The next day I got booked for a Vogue Hommes International cover.
WWD: What do you consider your biggest professional success so far?
F.H.: I loved working with Steven Klein and Lara Stone on the editorial “Love Machine,” in the February 2015 issue of W magazine. Lara is a genuine person and in many ways she’s not a typical model. I find her very feminine and beautiful. My biggest job yet was the last Versace campaign.
WWD: Did you have a chance to meet Donatella?
F.H.: Yes, I did and I really enjoyed her presence during the shoot. We didn’t discuss fashion at all. She just asked me questions about Slovakia and about the area where I’m from.
WWD: Have you always been aware of your appeal?
F.H.: I know this will sound very cocky, but girls always liked me, so I am guessing this is where my self-confidence came from.
WWD: How do you keep in shape?
F.H.: When I have spare time, I do all kinds of sports such as football, swimming and tennis.
WWD: Who is your professional icon?
F.H.: I would say the model Simon Nessman is my icon. At the beginning of my career, people nicknamed me “baby Nessman” and some people from the industry also said our personalities were similar. We share the same agency in New York and Milan. I met him once at a dinner and after meeting him in person I realized we don’t look alike at all, although our character’s similarity is pretty true indeed.
WWD: Is there anything you would like to change about the modeling industry?
F.H.: I would appreciate it if the rates were equal for male and female modeling.
WWD: How do you feel about nudity?
F.H.: I am OK with underwear but I guess that’s my limit and everyone respects that. When shooting for E! with Steven Klein, he wanted me to take my briefs off but in the end he respected my decision. I don’t consider myself shy, but I like to keep certain boundaries.
WWD: Are you active on social media?
F.H.: Nowadays it’s a must for a model to be active on Instagram for professional reasons and I personally like the fact that I can show who I really am outside the studio and off the runway. I don’t mind sharing parts of my personal life. Interestingly enough, I’ve received a few commercial “product placement” offers for my Instagram profile.
WWD: What do you consider the most common stereotype about male models?
F.H.: Most people outside our industry think all male models are gay. I find it funny because the vast majority of the male models I know are actually straight. From my experience I sense that clients also seem to prefer straight models.
WWD: Is there any brand you would love to model for?
F.H.: Calvin Klein! Thus far I have only walked his runway shows and my dream is to become a CK underwear or fragrance model. I’m a big fan of the Calvin Klein clothing line too. I would also like to model for Hugo Boss.
WWD: Which city do you consider your favorite?
F.H.: I am definitely not a big-city boy. I’ve found that on my travels, Paris is my favorite place to work in, although the spirit of New York City is one of a kind. For my job I’ve already had to move from my hometown to Bratislava and I would consider moving to Prague, but I guess that’s the furthest I’d move.
WWD: Can you picture yourself being a father and having a family?
F.H.: I feel totally ready for it and I hope by the time I turn 27 that I will have my own little soccer player.