When talking to Janis Ancens, the ethereal Latvian model, it becomes easy to understand why he's one of the most in-demand male faces of the moment. An icy blonde with sculpted cheekbones, he has a distinct visual malleability that's proved compelling to photographers like Steven Klein, Mert and Marcus, Willy Vanderperre, and Craig McDean, acting as a flexible canvas that encompasses the polarities on the spectrum of beauty—from angelic to otherworldly.
Ancens, who grew up playing ice hockey but injured his knee at 16, left his hometown of Ogre to move abroad to Cyprus and work as a bartender. "Some guy who came to my bar told me, ‘You should try to be a model. You are very good looking.' I didn't pay attention," Ancens says. "Then after one or two months I started to think, ‘Why couldn't I give it a shot?'"
At 19 Ancens found his home agency, Elite Milan, and a home base in the northern Italian city. "I was trying to move to New York, but it didn't happen, because it was just too much for me," he muses. In early 2012, Ancens debuted on the men's fall runway for Valentino. Since then, Ancens has been making a swift and steady ascent in the modeling world, securing a spot on Models.com's Top 50 Male Models list (he currently clocks in at #14) and booking campaigns for Sandro (he stars opposite Edie Campbell in the French brand's moody black-and-white fall ads), Belstaff, Gucci, and Dior, walking for Dior Homme, Louis Vuitton, and Jil Sander, and nabbing editorial work in V Man, Details, Numéro Homme, and here at Interview.
"The more you work with a person, the more you get to know each other," he says of his ever-evolving group of collaborators—the photographers and stylists who are defining fashion at the moment. "The people who I work the most with are the nicest to work with because you know them, and you know what they want." Ancens, who supplements his fashion work by relaxing with "guitar, ice hockey, and soccer with my dudes" and catalogues his travels and the occasional selfie with his fiancé on Instagram, is keeping a low-key approach to his on-the-rise status. "I like to do shows, I like to do editorial shoots, I like to do videos. I like to do everything," he says. "I try to keep a positive mind. I love what I am doing, and I just do it for myself."