FN met menswear new face Alhassan Sandah via Instagram, following his runway debut for Givenchy at Pitti Uomo in June. Outings including Fendi, Valentino and Loewe soon followed, and then in September, the 19-year-old Ghanaian got his dream gig modeling in the Gucci show.
Sandah’s super proud of the fact that he’s one of the first models from the north of the country to break into the international scene. “Where I’m from in Ghana is one of the most looked down upon regions so everyone thinks’ it’s something great,” he told us. His mom wasn’t too happy at first because she wanted him to go to university but, as he says, “if modeling doesn’t work out I can still go back.”
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FN caught up with Sandah in Paris in November, his last stop on a European trip during which he shot a sportswear campaign for Primark in London, featured in the video for the Ed Sheeran and Stormzy track “Take Me Back to London” and shot editorial for The Blank, Schön and Numero magazines.
FN: How did you find out you’d got the Gucci gig?
AS: I always wanted to be a Gucci boy. I had originally planned to go to university but when I was scouted, the agent said, ‘imagine walking for Gucci.’ I found out by email in early September. My Milan agency, Brave Models, told me when I got optioned for the show. Generally, agencies don’t tell you until you’re confirmed because brands option a lot of people, and you might not get the gig. But they had to tell me because they had to work on my visa to go to Milan.
FN: Tells us about the Gucci experience.
AS: First of all, the showroom in Milan is amazing. They even bring you food at the castings. You don’t often get that with other brands. Usually, you just have to eat on the street. We only found out about the moving belt the morning of the show [the Gucci show featured models standing on a moving conveyor belt as opposed to a more traditional runway] and saw it for the first time at the rehearsal. You had to be quite careful when you stepped onto it. It was all a dream come true, but I couldn’t be sure it was going to happen until the last minute. A brand like Gucci can cancel a look at any time, even when you are in the line-up, so you just have to hope.
FN: Gucci notwithstanding, how did you learn how to walk on the runway?
AS: A friend gave me some tips. Every show has a specific walk; for example, some brands like a strong walk. But the most important thing he told me is to walk straight. At first, though, I did feel self-conscious about everyone looking at me. You can’t laugh or simile or look bored on the runway — until you get to top level like Naomi Campbell — but personality is still important. When you meet casting directors and brand owners, you should always be humble and put a smile on your face. If you’re arrogant, people won’t like you.
FN: What have you found to be the most surprising thing about the model industry?
The pay gap between the sexes. Girls get paid way more than boys. It’s funny because it’s one of the only industries where that happens.
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