- Photography by Mr Blair Getz Mezibov
- Styling by Mr Jason Rider
- Words by Mr William Van Meter
"In fencing, the pressure is on you," says Olympian swordsman turned model Mr Race Imboden. "It's all mental. You have to think of exactly what to do or you will lose. With modelling you just listen and do what you're told. It's actually a refreshing change."
Unlike the majority of models, Mr Imboden, who has an eye-catching tattoo of the Olympic rings on his arm, didn't embark on a modelling career from being scouted on the street. An agent at Re:Quest Model Management saw him on television when he competed with the US team in the London games. "The next thing you know, I was on runways," he says. "My first show was Duckie Brown. And then that season I did Marc by Marc Jacobs and it rolled from there." Yes, he sees the incongruity in his two career paths. But fencing, in many ways, did prepare him for his second career. "They don't relate to each other that much," he admits. "But when they told me, 'Oh with modelling you're going to have to travel so much, life will be crazy', I was like 'meh...' I've been travelling overseas since I was 14 by myself. I was never at school. I was never there. I was travelling all the time. That was my high school experience. I missed my prom. My life was always in a different country every week."
Besides his strawberry blond hair, the most standout feature of 19-year-old Mr Imboden is probably his rather regal nose. "I got into a skating accident when I was little," he says. "That's what made it crooked. I definitely had my period where I was like, 'Oh man I've got such a big nose', but I'm used to it now." Sitting on a bench outside a coffee shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, he is wearing a colourful Pendleton coat over black jeans, and a crisp denim jacket and vintage brown rugged hiking boots. It's a considered look in anyone's book. He is, in fact, so well put together one would assume he is rocking gifted gear from fashion gigs.
When my friend bought a magazine and I was flipping through it, I was like, 'Holy cow, that's me!' It was one of those moments
"It's not!" he protests. "This is the one day I wasn't wearing my free fashion week clothing! I like to wear Pendleton, but I also like moodier, all black New Yorker type of clothing."
Born in Tampa, Florida, but living in Brooklyn from a young age, fencing quickly became the focal point of Mr Imboden's life in his new city. "I really started training when I came to New York," he says. "We moved right across the street from a fencing club."
Like many teens, he still lives at home with his parents. ("I've got to save that money," he says) but has big plans for the coming years, with aims to study business and work in the music industry. Right now though, it's modelling that has both him, and his parents, excited. "My mum is super into it," he says, "and when my friend bought a magazine and I was flipping through it, I was like, 'Holy cow, that's me!' It was one of those moments."
So has Mr Imboden fully adjusted to his dual life? "The biggest thing that worried me about getting into modelling was that I was going to have to wear some crazy things," he says. "It's a shock to the system when you look in the mirror and see someone else. But part of the cool thing about fashion is you can depict different things and be these different people."