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Marcel Castenmiller

Marcel Castenmiller
photo: Mario Sorrenti

by Matthew Lyn

British Columbia is a fantastical place with a unique beauty, class and elegance unmatched east of the Rocky Mountains, where winding rivers make their way through mountain crevices and lush green valleys, and find themselves in coves so rich in verdure it captivates the mind.  Our wondrous Oasis produced one Marcel Castenmiller, Canada's newest male model prodigy.  You may have seen him in the new Gucci Eyewear campaign or possibly his Benetton ad or maybe his numerous editorials in Vogue, ID, GQ or Numero.  Standing at six feet two inches with crystal blue eyes he could mesmerize even the most exotic of audiences.  In Marcel's close and personal interview, he shares with me the wild and rebellious stories that progressed him into manhood.

His journey begins in the spring of 2006 in British Columbia where Marcel was offered the opportunity of a lifetime to shoot with renowned photographer, Ryan McGinley (www.ryanmcginley.com), in an American road trip that would change his life.  McGinley saw such stardom in Marcel that he was asked to return the following year, which led to a contract with one of the most prestigious men's agency in New York, DNA Model Management.  Success followed when he landed his first international campaign as the new face of THEORY.  But just when things started to look good, temptation took root in this young star. 

Marcel had fallen in-love with a girl he met living in New York, but the big city caused Marcel to pick up a very bad habit.  In the following months, Marcel extinguished his earnings and his health began to suffer.  He was no longer able to support himself in NYC.  The pressure was mounting for the 20-year-old superstar and in a moment's haste he bleached his hair and fled home to Canada.  Crazy times, dark dreams and a test of morals make up the journey some must take on the path to success and this was the hard road that Marcel now attempted to put behind him.

A new life had begun for Marcel and he spent the next several months reflecting and forgetting about his worries, painting retirement homes with his father just outside of Vancouver.   He realized however, he still had a strong desire for the one who stole his heart, so he took his meager earnings ($1,000) and fled to Montreal.  That was where his friend lived and was the closest he was going to get to New York, from within Canada.  Over the next couple months Marcel traveled often to see his girlfriend and survived by landing still more jobs through McGinley.

Over time he began to receive quite a bit of recognition and the fashion world started to take note of this unrepresented model (he had left DNA when he returned to Canada, but never resigned).   The commute between New York and Montreal was getting to him and he was becoming depressed.  Finally, while in New York at the start of 2008, DNA Model Management noticed he was in town and offered to renew his contract.  He moved in with his girlfriend, and that's when his luck really started to change.  He made headway in London, Milan and Paris, shooting campaign after campaign, editorial after editorial:  Kenzo (with Mario Sorrenti), Benetton (with David Sims), Gucci Eyewear, GQ, Numero, Vogue, iD and most recently, Versace (with Mario Testino).

Currently ranked #31 on Models.com, Marcel is one of the most sought after models; known for his sexy androgynous features.  With all the success he still remains very humble and enjoys painting and the entire realm of art.  He hopes to continue school one day and pursue his love for painting, possibly at the Cooper Union school in New York.  He claims to be a Nintendo nerd, which is also why he never seems to get lost in other cities (he's darn good at figuring out those maps and puzzles… haha what a character!).  He also does not see himself as a model in the distant future but hopes to be associated with the industry in some way. 

Surviving addiction, heartache and the modelling industry is rough enough, but messing up does not have to mark the end of the journey.  You do not have to become a star overnight, and a slow path might be the right one for you too.  Maybe make a schedule with your loved ones and your agent, and inform them of your mental well being as well as any concerns you have. Discuss reasonable solutions (on a monthly or bi-weekly basis initially).  I think the saying goes “Rome wasn't built in a day” applies here!  Take your time and enjoy the journey. 

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