Kian Mitchum is racking up the frequent flyer miles shooting on location with notable photographers like Steven Meisel and Mario Testino. The Southern California boy speaks to Faceforward about how he got started.
How did you get into modeling?
Kian Mitchum: I was in a restaurant in Santa Barbara and Bruce Weber was at the next table. He came over and said he was doing a job for Abercrombie & Fitch the next day. He asked me to be in it, so I did not having an agency or anything. I hated it, absolutely hated it. I went home screaming about it and so I thought that was it, I was done with modeling. I used to manage a restaurant and about a year later I was waiting tables and a model from Warning [Model Management] asked if I've ever modeled, but I said no. Then I kept getting calls from Warning for the next few months, I told everyone to say I wasn't there every time they called. Then finally they got to me and I signed with them.
Why did you hate your Bruce Weber shoot?
Kian Mitchum: It wasn't him, it wasn't the shoot. It was the other models. I didn't like the idea of it, it was all young and sexy, on the beachóI just really felt shameful like I was giving too much away.
What happened when you started at Warning?
Kian Mitchum: I did a few test shoots then my first casting was for DKNY. I got the job and that was the only casting I ever did in L.A. I haven't been back to do work there in over a year. After that I went with Spencer from Warning to New York and did a lot of go sees, like to Meisel's studio, Art Partner and stuff like that. Then from there I got work in California like Vogue Italia with Meisel, Valentino Red with Mario Testino and Oliver Peoples. I was still managing the restaurant.
What happened to the restaurant?
Kian Mitchum: It was my total priority but I decided I should either put more effort into modeling or just drop it. I moved to New York then moved to Paris for a year and now I'm in London. I keep movingóI'm still in transition. I miss the restaurant and I keep hearing worse and worse reviews about it. Itís gone from four stars to three stars to two stars [laughs]. The restaurant is owned by the CEO of Lucky Denim. I started by cleaning tables and worked my way up to management.
How does the modeling world in L.A. compare to the high fashion cities?
Kian Mitchum: One thing about California is that it has beaches, mountains, deserts and snow so a lot of photographers go there for the locations. As far as the people in fashion in L.A. go, itís a bit of a joke. The clothes are such low quality and they don't understand fashion like in New York or London. It seems more about who's in the audience and where the after party is.
Do you think America is obsessed with celebrity?
Kian Mitchum: I think in a sense the whole world is but America is more than everywhere else. That's the basis of America, the American dream.
Tell me a bit about your family background?
Kian Mitchum: My grandfather [Robert Mitchum] was an actor. He was in the original Cape Fear. He was also in a movie called Night of the Hunter which is where the LOVE-HATE tattoo-on-knuckles originated from. He did some films with [Marilyn] Monroe. He went to jail for drug charges. He was the bad boy of the time.
Which other actors were his friends?
Kian Mitchum: His neighbor was Gregory Peck. My father tells me he remembers coming home from school and Elvis [Presley] was there playing the piano. I'm not sure exactly who was in his circle but he was big.
What is your favorite movie of his?
Kian Mitchum: I would say Night of the Hunter. Itís a classic, dark powerful film. He died when I was 13, so I remember him as the big scary guy in the corner with this incredible voice that I didn't want to get near. But now that I'm older I can appreciate where it all came from. I really enjoy seeing his movies.
What do your parents do?
Kian Mitchum: My mother is a literature professor at two different universities. My father does many things. He's a bit of a politician and he's done a few movies. One thing about my grandfather is that he pissed a lot of people off in Hollywood. Just before he died people were petitioning to get him a lifetime achievement award through the Academy Awards. Everyone tried to help, even Johnny Depp. It went to a silent Italian filmmaker. People always say to me I should be an actor riding on the family name and having an open door but I don't think it would be that easy.
You are a professional model, what do you think of celebrity models who use their family names to become famous?
Kian Mitchum: I think that there really aren't any rules to this business so whatever people want to do to put them one up, take the advantage. In my generation people don't even know who Robert Mitchum is so itís nothing to do with me other than a last name. I think some of my agencies think that it holds a bit more weight but I don't think I've ever gotten a job because of my last name. I want to avoid that.
What do you do when you are home?
Kian Mitchum: Santa Barbara is a mix of the people escaping L.A. and the retired hippies who have always been there. Itís one of the most beautiful places on earth. The mountains touch the coast, the buildings are Spanish, the air and the scenery make you slow down. You relax and the weather is always beautiful. Itís almost the exact opposite of New York or London.
Which city are you going to next?
Kian Mitchum: I think I'm going to go to New York, I was there for 2 weeks only and put a deposit down for a 6 month lease on place then I had to go to Paris to do one show and ended up staying, somehow I never left.
What's your favorite job youíve done so far?
Kian Mitchum: W magazine with Meisel was amazing. We had to wear Victoria's Secret lingerie and these flesh-colored thongs which are meant for cross dressers to, erm, conceal. I mean there were times where all five of us guys were sitting there between shots in our chiffon dresses and high heels in full make-up having a normal conversation. Then all of a sudden we'd look at each other and burst out laughing. The atmosphere was so good, it was like a production. I was the only model who knew about it in advance. I was told it was about guys looking like girls and girls looking like guys. I had actually worked with Meisel before and worn a Versace dress, so I thought: ďOh no! What have I started?Ē I had to go for a fitting for the W shoot so I knew about the clothes. It was hilarious seeing everyone's reaction on the day of the shoot. You can always trust Meisel will make it look good. Everyone remembers the W shoot but now I feel like I have to prove my versatility and to be able to look masculine.
What do your friends think about it?
Kian Mitchum: Well I don't really go home and talk about it but sometimes they call when they've seen me in something. Some people say ďMan, I hear you did some risquť stuff in a dress. What do you do?Ē [laughs].
If you could do any modeling job, what would you want to do?
Kian Mitchum: I really like the Jil Sander campaigns. It seems like a pivotal point in a modelís career to do it. I'm so happy about having done the John Richmond campaign, I really loved the photos.
What's a typical day like for you?
Kian Mitchum: I wake up at 9, arrive at the agency by 10 or 10:30 and get my castings then I zip around town. Then there are days when I don't do anything so I just stay in or go for walks.
Who are your favorite designers?
Kian Mitchum: I love Anna Sui and John Richmond. The clothes I wore in the John Richmond campaign were particularly cool because I love skulls and it was all about skulls.
Do you do any sports?
Kian Mitchum: Back home I was surfing every day, skating, football and hiking. Mountain biking is huge in Santa Barbara. It doesn't feel like you are making an effort, itís just part of life because you are always having fun outdoors. In these cities I don't because itís not as accessible. You have to make an effort to put on your running shoes and go to the park or go to a gym and use the machines so my exercise is coffee and cigarettes [laughs].
Do you have a beauty regime?
Kian Mitchum: I have the luxury of having a Brazilian girlfriend who loves her creams so I have free range to experiment in the bathroom. Every now and again I'll try something like exfoliating [laughs].
What are your plans for the future?
Kian Mitchum: I've always wanted to own a restaurant. I studied hospitality and business management, did wine tasting courses and all sorts of things. I thought I was on a track and then when I started managing I got burnt up so quickly with all the stress. I started working in the business when I was 13. It was illegal and they paid me in cash but it felt so good to earn my own money so I kept going. Managing the restaurant was a combination of everything I had done leading up to it. That's what I really wanted to do but this opportunity came along and once I moved away from home and I haven't figured out what I'm going to do really. But I'm keeping my options open, taking it as it comes.
Thanks to Kian and Spencer Salley at Warning LA.
thank you so much dinahgrace for starting this thread and of course the interview! He's beautiful.
These are Kian right?
Vlada Roslyakova-Sasha Pivovarova-Gemma Ward-Jessica Stam-Snejana Onopka-Kate Moss-Daria Werbowy-Lily Donaldson-Caroline Trentini-Freja Beha Erichsen-Tanya Dziahileva-Natalia Vodianova-Natasha Poly
Yay! That was fast! Thanks so much for those pics & you're welcome!!!! Yeah that's him.
I can't believe there wasn't a thread before on this breathtakingly handsome young man.
Last edited by dinahgrace; 28-04-2007 at 12:42 PM.