Manchester ex-student and Vivienne Westwood-fanatic turns male model and swaps Fallowfield for Milan catwalks

By Ruth Dacey

“It’s unbelievable to think three years ago I was rolling round in mud playing rugby for the university – and now I have modelled for Armani and Versace and worked with Alex Wek and Jennifer Hawkins.”

Former University of Manchester student Franky Vincentio swapped his psychology books and rugby boots for the world of couture fashion.

The fashion industry had always seemed alien to the 24-year-old whose comfort zone was in the midst of a rugby clash rather than strutting down a catwalk.

But after entering a Next modelling competition he was subsequently scouted by global agency Storm Model Management, who discovered global superstars Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne and Lily Cole, and has never looked back.

“It’s been an insane time in my life but I have loved the whirlwind. At first I didn’t know what I was doing because in all honesty I had no idea what Storm was or anything about the world of modelling,” the 24-year-old revealed.

“But everyone at the company was so keen and enthusiastic  they loved my image and in the end it was a very easy decision to leave in my final year at uni because it was an opportunity I just couldn’t miss out on.

SUITS YOU SIR! Franky modelling a Vivienne Westwood creation

“I love that I can now combine modelling with travelling and for me that’s my favourite bit. I get to go to places round the world and work with such talented people.”

Since joining Storm in 2011 Franky has modelled at all of the major Milan fashion shows and has worked with juggernauts of the industry including Vivienne Westwood and Donatella Versace.

The former psychology student’s encounter with the world-renowned English designers, whose works are frequently a gentle parody of Establishment styles using very British fabrics such as Harris tweed and tartan, is one he will never forget.  

“Vivienne Westwood is absolutely insane! In my opinion she is the best designer, especially for my body,” the former university Rugby Union player said.

“Some may view her as completely off the wall and on another planet but she has such a wonderful creative mind and an aura to her and that is immediate as soon as she enters any room.

“It was an honour to work for her as I took part in all her shows in Milan and was part of her Look Book collection. She was extremely wacky in the way she came across –  it’s really special being able to wear her clothes which are the final products of her enormous imagination.”

FEELING THE LOVE: Franky with designer Henry Holland at London Fashion Week 

However not everything has always been easy for Franky who shed four stone since beginning his career as a model.

“I was a lot bigger because I played rugby   I had to be powerful and work on muscle gain but now I am shaping myself to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible in the world of modelling and it’s very hard to do that,” he explained.

“It was a much more relaxed way of life whereas the job I do now is extremely high pressured. The potential is huge for me now but it definitely comes with a lot of added stress.”

Despite this the Kendal-born model firmly believes the sacrifices he made were well worth it considering the opportunity to work with former MTV Model of the Year Alek Wek, and former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins.

Sudan-born Alek left in 1991 to escape the civil war ravaging her country and arrived in London at the tender age of 14, was was soon discovered by a model scout in a South London market.

“I loved working with Alek Wek and when I researched about her history I was fascinated because her life story really blew me away,” he said.

“Her history is amazing because she went from nothing to a global superstar and she still takes time to do amazing things back in her home country which is so admirable.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! On set for a Jaegar fashion shoot

“Before I met her I thought she may be quite full of herself because of how successful she is but it was the complete opposite – she was a genuinely lovely person and took a real interest in myself when I worked alongside her.”

Despite only being in the modelling world for a relatively short period he has big plans for the future and has already starred in campaigns with Moss, the UK’s leading suit specialist store, Versace watches and Australia’s largest department store group Myer.

“My Moss campaign will always be special to be because it was my first big one. I was so happy I got that because I was big at the time, well in terms of modelling, and a lot of people said I was too big  so to get that really helped me into the industry,” the London-based model said.

“I hope I get the chance to stay in this industry for quite a few more years and it’s a great stepping stone because it opens up a lot of doors for me.

“In the future I would love the opportunity to move into the acting and music world  nothing is certain in life but I’m just trying to make the most of the opportunities I’m given.

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