Calvin Klein, Design, Designer, Designers, Donna Karan, Elle Magazine, Fashion, FASHION PHOTOGRAPHERS, Ford Models, Gianfranco Ferre, Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, Iceberg, Italian, Italy, Joop, Marcus Schenkenberg, Milan, New York City, SUPERMODELS, Vogue, Vogue Italia
Marcus Lodewijk Schenkenberg van Mierop, better known as Marcus Schenkenberg (born August 4, 1968) is a model, actor, singer, writer, and TV personality born in Stockholm, Sweden to Dutch parents. He has a citizenship with Netherlands, but has been based in NYC since 1991.
He is the highest paid per-year male model in the world, the first male supermodel and known for his muscular body and “washboard” abdominal muscles. Schenkenberg, who was discovered by American photographer Barry King, while rollerskating in Venice Beach, California in 1989, is approximately 1.93 m tall (6 ft 3 in) and weighs 90 kg (200lb).Most known for his Calvin Klein advertisements, he has also modeled for Valentino, Donna Karan, Versace, Giorgo Armani, Joop, Gianfranco Ferre and Iceberg. He is signed to Ford Models in New York City, Storm Model Management in London.
Schenkenberg worked on three Italian tv shows, in 2002 “Quelli che il calcio” (as a corrensponent) and “La grande notte di lunedi sera” (as a host), and the cast of La Fattoria (2006).
He also appeared on VH1’s fourth season of The Surreal Life (2005). and “Germanys next top model” and “The Tyra Banks show” (2006).
In 1997, he published a book, Marcus Schenkenberg, New Rules, which
featured numerous photos and personal notes and comments about his career as a model, as well as contributions from colleagues, family members, and people in the fashion and modeling business.
He has recorded a hit song, “La Chica Marita”, and is a spokesperson for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
He had a well-reported romance with Pamela Anderson, another PETA supporter, and lived with her for a while in Malibu, but the relationship later ended.
He speaks fluently in Swedish, English, Dutch, Italian and French.
Marcus is currently working on a perfume line, workout video, jewelery line and upcoming movie shoots.
It is not often that one sees a man like Marcus. He is so comfortable with his body and with himself that he transcends the limits of culture. In this sense, he is free and by looking at him, you also feel free.
As a designer, I have always found that he brings out the true and utmost potential of the clothes he wears; that’s why I want him on the catwalk and in pictures. He has that particular gift to make himself new and to let fashion cover his body every time in a new way.
Photographs of Marcus are unlike those of most models because he is so physical. He knows his body, how to move it, and how to use his energy to give life to pictures . . . some almost explode off the page, like the “flying blanket” for Avedon; others have the sense of a frozen moment in time, like in the advertisements for Absolut. All of them are powerful and expressive. That’s one reason why he became the first male model people recognized by name.
After Marcus’s first famous pictures, men everywhere grew their hair out like his, paid more attention to their bodies, and to how the clothes actually fit them. Men are taking a cue from Marcus and are feeling comfortable about expanding their self-expression, about being sexy and beautiful. And it’s just the beginning ….
Mr. America 1987 Rich Baretta
When Marcus first joined the gym, he definitely made an impression. His hair was all one length to his chin, and soon every guy there had the same haircut. From the back, they all looked like Marcus until, of course, you checked the body. I first met Marcus when he asked me for some advice on training to help him put a routine together. He has a very easygoing personality, and I was surprised to find that he’s actually very shy around people.
How would you describe the way Marcus works out in the gym? He works very hard, doesn’t socialize much, and really knows his way around. He loves to work out.
How do most people in the gym react to him? Women swarm around him just to get a look or to say “hi” and hope they’ll someday be Mrs. Marcus Schenkenberg. Most of the gay men hope he’s gay (wishful thinking). A number of guys time their workouts so they can be in the gym, and even the locker room, at the same time. Some people who’ve never met him think he has a big attitude, but they’re just jealous, because once they talk to him they realize he’s totally down-to-earth.
How would you describe Marcus’s body type? Tall, but not lanky like most male models. In clothes he appears normal-sized, but in a tank top you realize how muscular he is.
Is this what an average guy should do to get a body like Marcus’s? It’s what he could do, but Marcus has been training for many years.
What type of fitness program does Marcus follow? He primarily relies on strength training. He uses a bodybuilding style – he breaks up body parts and focuses on one or two muscle groups in each workout. For cardiovascular, he runs and plays basketball and tries to work it into his training by keeping his heart rate up, and by taking only short rests.
What is completely unrealistic? To think you’ll look just like Marcus. The only way to have a body like Marcus’s is not just to train, but to have the right genes. You can only improve the body you were born with.
What are the common mistakes guys make when trying to get a body like Marcus’s? (1) They don’t know how to train properly, and they only focus on how much they can lift. (2) They only work their favorite body parts and neglect the rest of their body. (3) They only worry about how big they can get and not how symmetrical they are. (4) They think that to get big they have to eat enormous amounts of food, and they end up getting fat.
Rich Baretta, fitness trainer “Mr. America, 1987”
Kate Sullivan: Francois, what do you think about men wearing makeup?
Francois Nars: It is very modern and sexy for men to wear makeup. It shouldn’t make men look softer. It is a show of strength, and shows a man’s level of comfort with his masculinity. Only society of today says that men who wear makeup are feminine. Where does this dictate come from? Certainly not history – from the Egyptians to the Victorian era, men have traditionally worn makeup fashionably styled to the times. Only in recent decades has society created a stigma about makeup for men. Men not wearing makeup was one recent evolution; now we are seeing another.
KS: Where are we seeing this right now?
FN: Tom Ford at Gucci had guys walking down the runway with makeup on and the effect was unbelievable. It was risky, but it worked. The guys looked sexy, confident, and normal. Everyone loved it.
KS: Why did you choose Antonio as your inspiration for Marcus?
FN: I love the way Antonio as an artist chose to draw men. It’s like madness. The red and blue colors just explode into a vivid palette to reflect the strength of the man. I chose this artistic expression to exemplify the power that the makeup gives to Marcus. The effect is one of roughness, fierce masculinity, and confidence. I think that Marcus this way perfectly exemplifies Antonio’s drawings. It is not a literal portrait, but one that reflects and draws inspiration from the art. It is about expressing yourself, and makeup is one way to do it.
KS: How would you see Marcus wearing makeup?
FN: Marcus’s face is like a sketchbook – he can be natural or go all the way with makeup. He is artistic in his approach to modeling because he can feel what the picture is about and play that up for the camera. Because of this, and because he is open and accepting of change, he is definitely a man who can wear makeup and still be himself.
Catwalk, Man on Show
Jason Kanner: Marcus, do you ever get nervous on the runway anymore?
Marcus: No. It’s like walking down the street – like walking down Fifth Avenue.
Kevin: That’s one of the directions I usually give to the models. We’ve already booked them, so we already know how they walk. The minute you try to make the models walk in a way that isn’t natural for them, they become tense and they project “awkward instead” of confident. But, Marcus, I can think of one time when you might have been nervous: the APLA benefit show last year for Todd Oldham, when the audience was so completely wild. I’d never seen anything like it. From the first second that Naomi hit the runway, the audience screamed, cheered, whistled, and carried on to a point that I was literally scared for the models. I mean, here we’ve got this black-tie audience that paid $25,000 a table to be there, and acting like they’re at a football game! Every model was like a touchdown. Then, when they introduced the men, Marcus was the first male out. You would’ve thought he was naked! I was giving him signals at the front of the house and I was so scared for him. But Marcus gave his little smile to say, “I’m there” – it’s internal, the smile – but I thought, “My God, just walk, walk, walk, walk, walk:’
Marcus: That was crazy. But it’s so much more fun to do a show when the audience gets into it like that.
Kevin: That was a little much for me, but spontaneous applause is great when it happens, it’s just so rare. You usually see more of the polite clap. But the only time I was ever scared was at that show. I was so afraid for the models. I thought the audience was going to stampede the runway. It’s like they thought that once they paid for the tables they got to sleep with the models. That’s model harrassment – you can’t do it.
Marcus, do you remember the first show we ever did together? It was that huge international show for Esquire magazine. Your Calvin Klein campaign had just come out in Vanity Fair, and I remember seeing it and saying, “Who is this guy? I have to see him now!”
Marcus: Yeah, that was a great show. But don’t you think it’s amazing how much bigger men’s shows are now?
Kevin: Definitely. When people consider fashion they usually think about women’s instead of men’s. I think that’s changing much. Designers are taking men’s fashion much more seriously, and the entire business has really grown. There is now, as there has been for women, a men’s season in all the major capitals: Milan, Paris, New York, London, Tokyo. This has had an effect both in and outside of the industry, to the extent that in a show we can remake and rethink how we look at clothes by how we might see them on the runway; and seeing them in that way we become stronger and clearer about how we might look at them in general. There’s also about ten times the amount of press attention on the men’s lines as there used to be. There’s certainly a lot of reasons for that. With the advent of designers showing strong collections there’s so much more media coverage. Also, being able to incorporate the superstar into it: We now have male models who have the lead roles that women have had.
Jason: What exactly goes into producing a show?
Kevin: I have two different roles: In effect, the roles of a producer and a director in a theater. As the producer, I raise money for the show, and impact it creatively to some degree; as the director, I see it realized on the stage. I have a public relations firm that specializes in fashion show and event production, and we produce and direct about fifty fashion shows a year. What I do, specifically, is work with the designer to go over their design for that season, develop a concept for the collection, and then figure out how best to bring it all to life. I’m always working hand-in-hand with the designer. That’s why I say I’m like a director in the theater. The role of the playwright is the role of the designer. They’ve put the words out there and it’s my job to realize those words – in this case clothes – in the best way possible. So we manage and execute all elements of production, from building the set, choosing the music and lighting package, deciding where the show will be held, and administering where the buyers and critics are seated. We also work on staging: choosing the music, casting the models, organizing the backstage – the dressers, the steaming, the pressing, the alterations, the fitting schedule – all of it.
Jason: Do you personally direct the models?
Kevin: I’ll stage them, and we’ll have a rehearsal.
Jason: What does it take to prepare the models?
Kevin: I’ll do a walk through with them, and I’ll say, for example, “I need you to walk four steps behind these three guys and then slow down here, and you’ll be creating an arc . . :” Then I’ll work individually and talk to them one-on-one, “Remember that they’re only ten feet behind you and you can’t let them catch up with you . . :” We usually have a meeting before the show as well. Once the guys are in their first looks, we’ll again reinforce what the mood is and get them really jazzed about going out there. Then, when we’re actually in the run of the show, I’m up in a booth calling all the cues: the light cue person, the set changes, as well as cueing James, who works with me and is the primary cue person for the model on stage. I’ll say, “James, tell Marcus to go. James, tell Marcus to smile:”
Jason: What do you do with a guy who can’t walk or stand up straight?
Kevin: You work with them. Any guy who’s played a sport, has danced, or does something that involves the body, understands that he probably looks better standing up straight than hunched over?and the minute he gets up on the stage, he’ll probably stand up straight.
Jason: But don’t you agree that there’s a difference between standing up straight tense, and standing up straight relaxed.
Kevin: You just have to do it. It takes a while. If a model was taught how to walk, they were most likely taught incorrectly. There is no school for modeling. With the new guys, I’ll walk them back and forth fifty times in rehearsal until they get it. Or, I won’t book them if I know they just don’t have it. You know, not everyone can walk.
Marcus: Models will also work with the newcomers. I remember my first runway job – I had no idea what I was supposed to do, so the night before the show I asked this guy who had been working for a while to show me how to walk. So we just practiced walking in the hallway of the hotel, back and forth, over and over. But Kevin, you really worked with me and showed me how to do it. No one can walk like you can.
Jason: So how do you direct Marcus?
Kevin: I would probably only have to direct him to the specifics of the show. There would probably be a pattern that he follows and a mood that he has to convey. There are shows where the demeanor is more stern – more internal and less communicative with the audience. Other times we’ll be doing a much happier show, where the models will convey a sense of enjoyment or confidence.
Jason: Do you cast your models to convey a particular mood?
Jason: What would Marcus’s ideal role be?
Kevin: Marcus is a chameleon. He can have many moods. There are times that we’ll want Marcus to be this strong, handsome, driving, confident man. Other times we’ll play on the fact that he is so goddamn sexy. So the clothes he’s going to wear, how he’s going to walk – his stride and everything will reflect that. The great thing about Marcus is that he doesn’t overact. He’s not out there to use gimmicks or changes or things that signal to the audience “I am sexy.” He is sexy, and that comes through without any extra effort. It’s his confidence and knowledge that he can get out there and do that. But he also knows that when he’s wearing a six-button, double-breasted Savile Row suit, with a big pocket square and fancy shoes, it requires a certain manner and stride. And when he’s wearing a g?string, his walk would probably be a little bit different – he wouldn’t put his hand in front of “it;” necessarily. So, there are times when you have to work with even the most experienced models, and that’s why casting is so important. But I develop a retinue of talent and I usually know what I can expect from that talent. If it’s a Marcus, I know what goes into that equation?it means he can be many things. He’s also big, and will often be cast for his size. I work with many designers, Hugo Boss for example, who have a model that is Marcus’s size, in order to build clothes just for Marcus to wear in their show.
Jason: It’s incredible how, under so much pressure and chaos, the shows still usually look flawless from the audience’s perspective. I don’t think you’ve ever messed up, Marcus, have you?
Marcus: Have I? Noooo.
Kevin: I can only remember one time, but it wasn’t your fault. The shirt buttoned up the back-shirts don’t often button up the back. It was a really quick change, and the dresser put the shirt on him backwards, and it was a case where the designer was talking throughout the show, explaining the new collection. And when Marcus walked out, he actually said, “Oh, my God, Marcus. Your shirt’s on backwards!” If he hadn’t said anything, no one would have noticed.
Marcus: And then there was that time when I was in Milan, I had to wear these tight, suede Vivienne Westwood pants with lots of strings that had to be tied. The dressers started putting them on me, and I said, “Look, this is the wrong way – they’re backwards:” And the four people dressing me said no, no, no, they’re on the right way. And when they finally got them on me and all laced up, they realized that I was right, because the crotch opening was in the back. I was freaking out. There was no time to change and they told me I had to go out like that. I couldn’t think about anything except keeping my ass covered.
Kevin: That wasn’t my show, thank God.