If there's one word to describe Mr Richard Biedul, for me it'd be 'engaging'. That manifests itself in his conversation, in his eye contact and of course the imagery he creates as a model. I've known Richard for a few years now but only just had the chance to sit down with him in Milan, the day before he walked in the Canali show. His energy is infectous and his story is intriguing as he tells me about his transition from law to fashion.
Richard Biedul, model with Elite London
What did you want to be when you were a wee boy? My mum actually has a picture I drew when I was 3 years old and it reads “When I grow up, I want to be a rocket car driver!” I don’t quite know what that is but that’s what I wanted to be. My memory of that time is a blur now but I do recall the feeling of wanting to drive a car so fast it can go into space.
That seems a long way from where you ended up. Between wanting to go to space and becoming a model you were a lawyer, right? Yes. I went through school without really an interest in education. I was a boy who misbehaved a lot. Somehow I managed to come out of school with good GCSEs, then good A Levels and when it came to selecting a university I just followed my friends. I chose to study law and left university with a good degree. I remember my mum saying to me “You’ve come this far now, you may as well follow it through.” I went to law school in London after that and graduated with distinction so a job offer fell into my lap really. My mum was a lawyer so the template was already laid out for me. My dad’s a mechanic and I was no good with my hands so the law route seemed more feasible.
That’s very impressive. You must be quite an overachiever if it was law that fell into your lap! What skills do you think you naturally have which meant you excelled with ease? I have great communication skills. No matter how rich or poor, working class or upper class, I feel I can build a rapport with anyone. That’s how I excelled within the world of law, but to actually get to the job? I don’t know how I managed that one. Better luck than judgement, I suppose.
Where did you grow up? I spent my childhood in north-west London in a suburb called Pinner which is quite near Harrow. It was safe, green and my parents worked as hard as they could to give me and my brothers as much freedom as we wanted. I go back as much as I can, probably about twice a month with my girlfriend.
Where do you live now? For a long time home was Broadway Market in East London. Then I moved to New York for work and when I returned I spent 6 months hunting for houses. We finally found the perfect place in January at Borough Market, London Bridge.
What are the main differences between New York and London for you? In London I have a fantastic network of friends and family that act as my safety net. I really value that. In the Big Apple I felt like I was out there on my own, fending for myself. There’s only so many deli sandwiches you can have before you think “I need to come home for mum’s dinner!” New York was an amazing time in my life but I’m glad to be back in Europe. The work in London, Milan and Paris is so regular it makes sense to be here. Europe will always be the epicentre of fashion for me so it’s where I need to be.
What’s the best thing about being a model? The free time is incredible. I like to read books but I also have a bad habit for watching too much television. I don’t have the drive to go to the gym too regularly and luckily my look is more about my personality and characteristics than physique.
Are your parents model-esque? I’ve got an amazing picture of them from when they were 19 in Amsterdam on holiday together. Both of them look like they’ve pulled out of East London today. Dad had a huge beard and mum wore a pink bomber jacket. They were such a cool couple. They’re still beautiful today – both inside and out.
Tell me the best job you’ve had as a model so far. I’ve got a fantastic client, La Perla, and I was the first male ambassador for the brand. That’s given me the opportunity to shoot with some of the biggest supermodels in the world like Lu Len, Natasha Poly, Naomi Campbell, Ming Xi and Isa Goula. For anyone who knows those girls will know how humbling that experience is.
Do you find that kind of situation intimidating? Not intimidating but I was certainly in awe of who they are and what they’ve done. The only selfie I’ve ever done was with Ming Xi because she’s one of the coolest kids around and I just had to get a picture taken with her. I was scared to death of Naomi Campbell.
Have you always been naturally confident? When I was a kid I was really small and the doctor wanted to give me growth hormone until the age of around 12. My parents ethos was to let me be who I am so it never happened and this instilled a feeling of inner peace. Being happy with how I am. With that said, because I was the littlest in class I was also the quietest but I quickly grew into myself and became the person I am today.
That’s an optimistic note to leave on. Finally, leave us with some words of wisdom. Be nice to everyone because what goes around comes around.