Standing Tall feat. Davide Pasqualini

Davide Pasqualini towers at over 6’ with a mean frame of nothing but Greek statue-like form—not a muscle too hulking but a stance that screams male mannequin. Pasqualini, in the span of three short years, has evolved from a bartender back in Sweden to one of the most recognizable male models in the field—career directions that needed him front and center of attention.

Bulking up his repertoire of fashion shows, print and television advertisements for an array of brands from rhum, apparel, underwear, luxury properties, and yes, even biscuits, Rank talks to the 28-year-old European model and weighs in on life in front of the camera.

Neoprene turtleneck top, Avel Designs

Have you always been conscious about how you look, especially your body?

Not necessarily “conscious” about my body. As a kid, I was very chubby and I used to be mocked a lot by my friends and that motivated me to go into sports. I have been a rugby player since I was 14 years old, so I’ve been playing all the time and that means I have to train a lot. I have been going to the gym for nine straight years.

When I was living in Italy and in Sweden, I played a lot of rugby. When I moved to Sweden, it was very physical to play rugby, it is less technique but more on body. A lot of the guys are bigger there so I really trained hard at the gym. So, I guess it’s about going stronger and bigger for me and never just about looking a certain way.

How did you get into modeling?

Back in Sweden, I was working as a full-time bartender. The wife of the owner of the gym I am frequently in asked me if I would like to model for another job. I said, “Why not?” But I never really took it as a serious job. It was just an extra job while working as a bartender.

Button-down shirt, Tommy Hilfiger. Neoprene overcoat and pants, Avel Designs.

Tell us about your very first job as a model.

I was a lot younger then when I did my first-ever shoot—I think when I was around 24. It was a catalogue for underwear—the typical ones where they don’t show your face but just your body, while wearing underwear. But I never really considered it seriously as a job. In Europe, especially in Sweden, modeling is not really so popular. At least, they bring in international models to do jobs. So, most of my life as a model really took off in the Philippines.

How did you become a model here in the Philippines?

I came here with my girlfriend who is also a model. She was working in an office and they got moved here so I followed her. When I did come here, I had to find a job to sustain myself here. And then I got introduced to modeling from friends who are also working here. I thought that modeling could be started here.

Even with your experience in modeling early on, you mentioned you came in blind when you did modeling here. How did your first jobs as a model here come about?

My first jobs here were really memorable. The first ramp show I did, I was really nervous. I don’t know how I look in front of hundreds of people but I have to look really confident. The same thing with my first photo shoot with Doc Marlon (referring to Doc Marlon Pecjo).  It was a very big experience because he can be hard on the models. That’s when I found out I don’t know anything about modeling. (chuckles) Peculiar and shocking experience.

Here, when you come in as a foreigner, and as a model, people are so kind, to the point that many models actually take advantage of that and they can get a little spoiled and forget to be thankful. So, from that treatment to my experience in my shoot with him, it was really hard to forget.  He can be very critical and spontaneous, and altogether I’ve learned a lot.  Now, we have shot together three times and I am still learning.

So far, how are you taking in your life as a model here in the Philippines?

It’s a good school for me. A way to learn a lot of things that I will bring with me. These are good experiences that teach me how to get to the next step. Now, I have been doing a lot of collaborations in other countries as well like in Singapore, Maldives, to name a few and the Philippines served as a great training ground for me.

As a model, you tend to expose a lot of yourself—not just on a literal sense. You open yourself up for criticism by people in the industry and there are a lot of misconceptions about models. How did you take this?

I had a good background because I was working in a bar and I was around hundreds of people shouting at me who are drunk. These are people who waited all week to relax and get their drink so some of them are mad and I had to handle that. I have to be in the middle, make everybody happy. And there, in the middle, you are a model, a bartender, a rockstar. So, when I went into modeling, it didn’t feel shocking.

Any dream job as a model?

I would love to get into real acting. Commercials are a good start because it’s where I could manage expressions. I would also like to get more into the gentleman part—portraying life of luxury like how David Gandy usually does it.

If you didn’t pursue modeling, what would you have been?

I graduated at the university with a degree in Media. I’ve actually dreamt to be behind the camera not in front of it. Back home, I was a freelancer with a professional camera working as an assistant in a big studio. It would be something that I’d continue doing.

Suit, Avel Designs.

Photography by Dharry San Diego

Grooming by Jinx Aggabao for Makeup Forever