A conversation with model Taavi Mand (SYSTEM Agency)
Photography by Kevin Pineda
By TADHI COULTER
TC. Did you discover modeling or did it somehow discover you? Speak in depth about that.
Taavi Mand. [Modeling] was ‘never ever’ in my wildest dreams since [I felt] my skinny body-type was never looked upon. The common belief about male models is something else. With that in mind, I found it odd while waiting in line at a grocery store that someone would approach me with an offer of coming to their studio for a test shoot.
After my immediate rejection of the offer, because it seemed ridiculous to me, I convinced myself that there was nothing to lose by accepting it. A few days later, the time came for me to visit the studio, and the only reason I did was that it was actually close to where I was living. I took the initial ‘sales pitch’ with a grain of salt, for sure. When it’s too good to be true, it’s usually the opposite. After all, I was supposed to have a 'type of face for Paris' (whatever that is)! I discovered that there’s something called an 'editorial model’, and I was told that ‘everybody ends up in New York anyway.’ Fast forward 6 months later, ‘Surprise, Surprise!’ I was in Paris for the first time in my life, far from the last. Now for years I’ve had the knowledge myself to explain ‘what it means to be an editorial model.’ Yet the NY-thing has still not reached my portfolio in 6 years.
TC. What was it like working with our team and being on location at Noblessner for this editorial?
Taavi Mand. All-in-all, it was an enjoyable day. The weather was a blessing and a curse at the same time--we didn’t get poured over by rain, and the location attracted a lot of people outdoors. The team had everything well scheduled and shots done fairly quick, so being on somewhat of a live-stage was fair enough. And seriously, two thumbs up, since the annoyance of spending several hours of location-scouting, just to find the right places to shoot each look in different weather conditions.
TC. What show, editorial, or campaign that you've been a part of or have been featured in has helped shape your confidence as a model?
Taavi Mand. Lucky for me, my first venture abroad for a fashion week had me walking 4 different shows. For a starter, it was good enough proof for the future, to keep on going (something I was promised on my first visit to the agency had been fulfilled). Then came my first campaign, most likely the peak of my career, which haunts me till this day. I am much more thankful for the confidence that [these experiences] have built in me as a person, after all.
TC. What's your favorite past-time, and how has it been instrumental in giving you a well-rounded or balanced perspective of your modeling?
Taavi Mand. I would rather not call it a past-time, but more of a 'what you do besides modeling’ [type of question]. By education and profession, I am an engineer, which is really far from being on a stage or in a shoot. The two have always balanced each other out really well. I suppose that having a variety of things in life is enriching and makes it more difficult to get fed up with one or the other. It’s always nice to catch impressions from people, once they hear about 'the other thing you’re involved with.’
TC. What is one cause, charity, or philanthropic endeavor that means the most to you, and why?
Taavi Mand. Helping abandoned and sheltered animals since reckless people cause the problem and NGOs and non-profit organizations step in to take care of it.
TC. What has been your greatest “in quarantine” life lesson since the COVID-19 pandemic?
Taavi Mand. [It’s been] that I do not like the home office--just not for me.
TC. How has your modeling been impacted "in quarantine"?
Taavi Mand. Each option I got was dropped for a while, but I can never be certain if it was due to the COVID situation or not.
TC. Has the fashion calendar being affected by the pandemic changed the way you think about booking runway shows, higher-paying campaigns or projects?
Taavi Mand. In my case, ‘No.’
TC. How has tech such as Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Duo, etcetera played a role in your daily life or casting experiences "in quarantine"?
Taavi Mand. There most probably was an increase of sending selfies of 'my current look at the time' to my agent.
TC. What have been some of your favorite go-to items to wear and groom yourself "in quarantine"?
Taavi Mand. I suppose there are less requirements of 'how to dress properly' when working out at home.
TC. What’s on your bucket list, “post quarantine”?
Taavi Mand. It is not much up to me, but I sure do hope that they stop postponing big concert events.