Faithful to a generation whose political and social awareness were built on reality television, Baptiste Giabiconi can do anything. Yet listening to him recite his résumé via Skype reveals one key aspect to his swagger: this all comes from candor, not arrogance. Baptiste grew up in Marseille in a Corsican family. On paper, these features smell like trouble, but really, he is a simple boy, living the simple life. In an absurdly Paris & Nicole way though, as his life includes cruising with Karl Lagerfeld, getting aggressively seduced by Mother-of-all-Boy-Toys Madonna or, allegedly, being romantically involved with Katy Perry.
In 2007 Baptiste was 17—after moving to Paris to pursue a career as a male model, he must have smelled something in the air. Less than a year later, he met his soon-to-be Pygmalion: Karl Lagerfeld, who cast him in a sunglasses campaign, and had him walk in his next runway show. The fashion week catwalk quickly turned into a global pedestal, as Lagerfeld saw in Giabiconi a young Alain Delon, and made his muse’s career blossom before the lens of his camera for Chanel and Fendi. Things unfolded. Kris Van Assche picked him to be the face of Dior Homme, and Baptiste foresaw that he could turn his name into a brand, which he trademarked in 2010 in categories such as clothing, jewelry, and cosmetic products. “I can do a lot of things, I am a chameleon,” he assures.
Eventually the model broke out as a singer. He released a debut album, Oxygen, with a signature Fwench flow that induced a return to his mother tongue when he made the second, Un Homme Libre. Baptiste will dig deeper into his genetic inheritance later this year with a traditional Corsican opus he’ll take on the road. To help promote his music career, he put on his Repetto shoes for the French version of Dancing With the Stars as a featured celebrity. His lighthearted joie de vivre and hunky wonderment helped him win over the audience, who advanced him to the finals. After the show, he graduated to scripted television by scoring a few cameos and small parts on French soap operas and short films. He’ll soon make his debut on the silver screen, producing the adaption of a French best seller into a chick flick in which he will also star, just because, “why not?” he says.
True to his French Riviera upbringing, Baptiste likes to talk about himself in the third person and prefers to charmingly address people by their first name. He goes above and beyond in our conversation, charismatic in almost every moment.
Choupette Lagerfeld: a gift he bestowed to his mentor as a token of their friendship. The silky white Birman recently stepped in the spotlight by distilling her first-world thoughts into a diary published during fashion week, which culminated in a book by Flammarion. Karl, just like Choupette (which might be why they fell for each other), cultivates an elitist and high-maintenance aura whereas Baptiste is candid in the funny way a little boy might be after getting busted for blowing his nose in the curtains. That might very well be the reason the Fashion Pope has such affection for him.
“Karl is the funniest person I know, we laugh hysterically together,” says Baptiste. The feeling seems mutual as neither can ever get enough of each other. For Chanel’s Spring-Summer ’15, the models were styled with slick side-parted hair and mysterious gaze, not-so-strangely referencing the Mediterranean features of Giabiconi. The duo is currently getting on track for a new challenge: a band fronted by Baptiste, recorded in London and superintended at large by Lagerfeld (image-wise) and should be in orbit later in 2015.
When challenged, Baptiste will flirt openly, although he does the job without genuine conviction, routinely, like the Don Juans of the Tinder era—blasé. He knows what you think. Baptiste is just here to entertain you. He doesn’t claim to be changing the face of music history; he just wants us to sing along in the shower. This is not about listening to his LP on vinyl; this is about being a Popular artist with a capital ‘P.’ So, when you think about it, this forthcoming project might be Karl Lagerfeld’s Velvet Underground. Lou Reed and John Cage’s venture was quite under-appreciated in their days, and they were visionary. So maybe Baptiste’s is the voice of the future, the proto-art of 2050; self-driving cars and androids living among us.
Photographer: Jack Waterlot for OpusReps.com.
Stylist: Amy Mach at AmyMach.com.
Model: Baptiste Giabiconi for MarilynAgency.com, Paris.
Set Designer: Ian Salter for DefactoINC.com.
Hair: Fernando Torrent for LatelierNYC.com.
Makeup: Claire Bayley for lateliernyc.com.