“Who’s that? Who’s that?” a throng of girls yelled in Mandarin as they held selfie sticks and snapped photos of the “world’s hottest math teacher,” Pietro Boselli, walking down Nanluoguxiang, one of Beijing’s gentrified streets. The 28-year-old academic-turned-full-time model was recently named the new face of Armani’s EA7 athletic line and was in Beijing filming a prank commercial for BeSound, a Chinese sound system start-up created by a former schoolmate from University College London, where Boselli recently completed his Ph.D in mechanical engineering.
This story first appeared in the April 20, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
How do you reconcile being an academic and model?
For me, there are two sides — the intellectual world and the scientific — and both sides need stimulation. For me, I was focused on science and research for so long and every once in a while, it felt like an outlet to do a fashion show. It gives a different perspective on life and problems.
With girls touching you in public, do you feel objectified?
When I started teaching, I didn’t even know people were taking pictures of me. I prepared the lecture and was serious about it. Then I felt I was dismissed in favor of taking a picture. There were Facebook fan pages and I wanted them taken down.
What was your hardest modeling job?
It was for Abercrombie & Fitch ages ago. I accidentally kicked somebody in the face. We had to wrestle, get the testosterone high — [we had] broken noses, blood, [it] was very intense. I’ve also done other shoots in the Alps in minus-20 Celsius and you’re pretending you’re in a vest jogging. This is the challenge — to convey that everything is real.
What’s the world’s biggest problem?
An unequal distribution of resources. Saving the planet is a slogan that doesn’t address the problem. The problem is us — the planet doesn’t need saving, it will be here longer than us. The truth is, if we want to increase GDPs, it is only possible by [maintaining] this wasteful lifestyle.
Do you talk about GDP and world problems with your model friends?
We talk about fashion. There is a stereotype about models, but in a way, it’s true. We have a lot of time between shoots and there was a guy sitting there talking about football and stuff. I was reading math textbooks and the guy said: “What are you reading?” I said: “Math.” He said: “You’re lying, man. There are only letters here.” But I’ve also met models who are really intellectual too.