(LEFT) All clothing ROBERT CAVALLI
(MIDDLE) Jacket ROBERT CAVALLI and underwear D HEDRAL
(RIGHT) All clothing ZEGNA
Brains and beauty: traditionally discussed as two different entities, when it comes to Model’s 1’s Pietro Boselli, they’re a perfectly packaged pair. Born and raised in Italy, Boselli began his foray into modelling at the age of six, when he caught the eye of fashion superpower Giorgio Armani and landed his first campaign, retaining the title as the face of Armani Junior for five consecutive years. Over the course of his younger years he dipped his toe in and out of the fashion industry, eventually making his academic studies his priority.
And his academic capabilities were just as impressive as his modelling achievements. Receiving an award for academic excellence across the entire faculty at UCL, Boselli achieved a first class degree in Mechanical Engineering and eventually went on to obtain a PhD, sponsored by Hitachi Japan (needless to say he’s a catch, right?)
Today he’s back in front of the lens, directing a binge-watched YouTube channel which explores fitness and travel; he regularly crops up on magazine covers, and has an ever-growing fan base of adoring lads and lasses. On a rare afternoon between his transatlantic excursions, we jumped into bed with Boselli at London’s Leman Locke Hotel to discuss life in two juxtaposed worlds.
Shirt ASTRID ANDERSEN
We’re nearly halfway through the year, what you’ve been up to so far?
I’ve been up to a lot actually. I feel like this first half of the year I’ve been to Asia a lot. I went to the Philippines – I’ve discovered that I have a huge fan base there – like massive! I was going around with a police escort. It was good though. I also went to Hong Kong. I was surprised because I didn’t know I’d have so many fans there, like paparazzi and stuff. Over there, everything is on a different scale. It was good for me. I’ve been to New York a few times; I feel like it’s my second city. I mean, I love New York, but I love London better!
Haha, thanks. And where’s the best place you’ve travelled to recently?
It’s hard to say! I wouldn’t be able to pick a favourite because, you know, each experience is different and each experience makes up the person that you are, and I like to take something good out of everything. I’m trying to organise more trips. Last year I went to Australia and I loved it so much, so I’d like to go back there again.
Talk to us about YouTube. What let you to set up a channel?
I feel like I’m a person that has a lot to transmit, I have so much new stuff in my head that needs to get out and is part of my personality. Everywhere I go I like to learn something. So, this sort of accumulates into a base of knowledge, or a view of the world that I have to share, and Instagram is not enough for that because it’s just a still picture, so I feel like YouTube is a good platform for that.
You focus on fitness too right?
Yeah, so, [it] felt like I had an audience. Unlike most YouTubers who start because they have an idea, who start making videos about that and then get an audience, for me it was the other way around. I had an audience, and I had to come up with the content, and I didn’t know where to start from. I mean, I started a year ago with some videos from my phone, and then I abandoned it for a while, and then got back to it in November. Most of the requests were about fitness. So I said, well this is a starting point. You have to start somewhere, like I’ve a variety of interests, and this is one of my main ones. I thought, let’s do something different, and that’s when I did my first series of videos which was the exercise. I definitely want to do more of that!
So what’s the big aim with your YouTube channel?
I feel like the creative process is finding itself, an intrinsic value is being able to communicate and build a relationship with an audience. I’d like to get to a point where my YouTube is big enough to justify production of really cool things. Because obviously, right now, it’s been going well – I’m almost at 250,000 subscribers in a few months – but I’m aiming for a million. Once you have that sort of number, it’s easy to put up some actual productions.
So when you say “actual productions”, what do you have in mind?
I have more ideas for series’ about workouts, one of them is about the mechanics of working out. I want to apply my knowledge of mechanics, I studied engineering for eight years, I feel like that’s knowledge that I always use when I work out, and it’s actually very interesting. I’m actually shooting the very first demo tomorrow. But this will be used sort of as a starting point to create a project!
Shorts ORLEBAR BROWN
Speaking of engineering, your website states: “This is definitely not an end to my relationship with engineering”. Do you kind of have a plan in your head of when you think you want to go back into that realm?
Engineering is obviously a passion of mine, and I have dedicated so much time to it. I definitely want to go back to it, I feel like both the careers I have had, academic and the modelling one, are part of who I am. I grew up into modelling, so it’s something I enjoy. I never had enough time to dedicate to this [modelling] during my PhD. So now for me it’s the time to explore this and also to make some money that then I could invest into my ideas and engineering, which I have plenty of ideas for. I’d like to eventually have my own engineering firm, a firm that’s creative, a hub where people can create new inventions.
Do you ever feel that your modelling work has the potential to affect how seriously you’re taken within engineering?
Originally that was the impression that I had. When I started university, and I was like 18, I would never tell anyone that I was modelling. It was something that was quite hidden. I felt like in academia people would look down on that. Because obviously it’s very different, it’s all very subjective, it’s not based on intellectual performance necessarily. Obviously there’s different types of intelligence, and I feel like a model who has travelled and has met lots of people has a completely different set of skills to someone who has been sitting in an office researching. I’m glad that I’ve got to have both because I feel like it’s a more complete picture. But eventually I learned to see that as a talent as well. I mean, I was focused super hard on my studies, I didn’t just want to be a good student, I wanted to be the best student; I was a crazy nerd. I got all the scholarships I could get. I was the best student in my faculty. Maybe because I loved studying, but also because I wanted to prove a point. I wanted to be recognised for my achievements rather than just superficial appearance.
Being a model, there must be a certain level of objectification of you, how do you handle that?
I guess I’m used to that now. I feel like, for me, I feel very solid. I’m very confident about myself, about my intellectual ability, about my value as a person, so it doesn’t really affect me much. I can see how it could affect someone though. I feel like it could affect someone in their behaviour. With me, I can observe it, I see how it is, I see how appearance affects the behaviour of the people around you, but I see it in a very objective, in an almost scientific way. In the end I always feel that it’s up to you as a person to know who you are and reaffirm that. I feel like, in the end, people who objectify someone and then get to know them, they realise what they’ve done.
All clothing ROBERTO CAVALLI
You touched upon your fan base, what’s the strangest encounter you’ve had with an admirer?
Everyone comes up with different lines. I can’t think of something off the top of my head. People come up to me and say, “I really need a picture of you for my husband,” or something like that; they come up with a reason. Some people will be like, “I really admire you”. But some people maybe feel embarrassed so they come up with ridiculous excuses for why they want one. They’ll say, “It’s not for me!” or “It’s for my aunt in America!” I feel like I have a very diverse fan base, like all sort of age groups. Once I was in New York and this old man said, “Oh! I know who you are! My brother and I always watch your videos on the computer.” It was so cute.
Returning to the start of your career, how do you think modelling impacted your childhood?
I feel like my parents managed to keep it very well balanced. Obviously I managed to keep a focus on my studies. I think precisely because I grew up modelling and being in front of the camera, it was like a second nature. It felt like something normal to do. It didn’t really affect my passions and interests, in the case of studying and what I wanted to do. I feel like it would have been different had I maybe discovered this career later like a lot of people do, maybe when you’re a teen suddenly you’re working and it seems like, “Ok, I’m going to head this way”, because it’s the novelty of it. For me it was a natural thing to do so I wasn’t very affected by it, I was always focused on what I wanted to do. It made the transition very natural. When I started doing Fashion Week in Milan, I didn’t give it much thought.
And so finally, long term plans?
I have tons of plans, but one at a time for sure. I’m working on a variety of projects that I didn’t have the time to work on while I was studying. Right now I’m actually working on launching my own sportswear brand, which will be very soon. I’m going to the factory next week actually!
James Oxley using Bumble and Bumble and Bobbi Brown