February 8, 2018, JOURNAL

THE NEW BOY

Janusz Kuhlmann is Switzerland’s international model export everyone is talking about. But can the 17-year-old charm my camera?

Janusz Kuhlmann, photographed by Play Hunter, February 2018 I © Play Hunter I Playlust.net
Who is the new boy? Right now, the name Janusz Kuhlman keeps popping up in mens modelling conversation. It belongs to a 17-year-old hailing from the Swiss village of Kohlbühl in Emmental.

He was discovered on Instagram a year ago by the Zurich-based male model agency One Time Management. He has since shaved his hair, quit his apprenticeship and has grown three centimetres. The latter means Janusz can walk international shows. For his SS18 debut in Milan and Paris, the influential casting director Piergiorgio Del Moro booked him for Versace and Balmain. Donatella Versace was so taken she posted a backstage picture of him on her Instagram (+43K likes). Balmain posted this and that.

Runway shows and social media fame are one thing. But can he move in front of the camera? To find out, I invited Janusz to a photo session. The February Monday morning brought in a raw, biting cold northerly breeze. Personality-building starts here.

He arrives in a leather bomber, black rollneck, Supreme logo-jeans and together with his model agent. His buzzcut brings out a set of razor sharp, finely chiselled cheekbones, flawless skin and the kind of killer lips not only fashion folks fawn over. His looks are sweet and tender, albeit in a slightly hooligan-kind-of-way. We swap jackets.

Janusz Kuhlmann, photographed by Play Hunter, February 2018 I © Play Hunter I Playlust.net

Now here’s the thing: the camera and Janusz click at first sight. There’s no flirting involved, but he turns something banal, like biting into an apple, into a wow-moment by simply switching into perfectly paced and timed slow-motion mode (catch here on Instagram Highlights, via smartphone connection). No directions needed. It momentarily stops me in my tracks, I must admit.

If he’s cold (he must be), he doesn’t show.

Janusz Kuhlmann, photographed by Play Hunter, February 2018 I © Play Hunter I Playlust.net
Back at my place, we have a wall, a basic beauty dish, house plants and my unworn English night shirt at our disposal. It’s all a bit makeshift but then again…

Janusz Kuhlmann, photographed by Play Hunter, February 2018 I © Play Hunter I Playlust.net
Janusz Kuhlmann, photographed by Play Hunter, February 2018 I © Play Hunter I Playlust.net
Janusz Kuhlmann, photographed by Play Hunter, February 2018 I © Play Hunter I Playlust.net
This much is clear: He’s born to pose but no showboat. He knows in this business pictures do the talking and looks speak louder than words. He exudes an air of quietly determined professionalism which is unusual for a 17-year-old who has just started out.

Janusz Kuhlmann, photographed by Play Hunter, February 2018 I © Play Hunter I Playlust.net
Janusz’s got what it takes – but is it good enough? It’s hard to tell at this stage. His agency is fiercely protective of his privacy and commited to keep him away from the more predatory and inquisitive elements (no “underwear” shoots, no home stories). If he stays focused and is allowed to evolve his personality with the right photographers over more than a couple of seasons, Janusz stands a good chance of escaping being eaten up by the industry and continue to electrify the fashion world and growing fan base.

Two days after the shooting, a new fitting with Versace later this month is confirmed.

Janusz Kuhlmann, photographed by Play Hunter, February 2018 I © Play Hunter I Playlust.net

At the agency, there’s a bottle of vintage Dom Perignon, to be opened on the occasion of the first international campaign. Chances are, the wait won’t last very long.

Text & Photography: Play Hunter

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