Bertrand Vergnes: Going after challenges

‘‘I saw a window of opportunities if you will and I took it.’’ Vergnes says about his desire to be in the Fashion industry.

Today Bertrand Vergnes may be unknown to our country and readers but he is actually an accomplished editor-in-chief who almost never sleeps, literally and figuratively speaking (lol). In fact, he actually gives the impression that he has been living several lives at the same time when most of us find it hard to just make these 24 hours worth anything. Vergnes went to do many activities and business endeavors: he was a national competitive swimmer for 14 years from his native country in France, former fashion model for 11 years, CEO, photographer, PhD University teacher, author and now designer! People might think it’s impossible but Vergnes explains to us that it is not difficult or as hard as people might think it would be.

‘‘I never take no for an answer, truly. I never do. When I’m focused and driven about a specific project then I go after it, really. Some of my friends or family members might be in awe with what I do but it’s truly not hard, you just have to stick with it and truly work hard, meet the people who will help you or facilitate whatever help or advice you might need along the way and you have to seek with passion your goals.’’

Considering Vergnes’ current career in Fashion it’s almost weird to, in fact, realize he also was a competitive athlete first and foremost before diving in a new pool (pun intentioned lol).

‘‘Truth be told, when I was growing up I never truly paid attention to world athletes or famous sport championships or anything alike. I was just, and sorry in advance if I sound a bit cocky, but it’s the truth: I was very good at swimming. I did lots of competitions, went to France national championships as part of a regional team and won many medals; nevertheless it wasn’t my calling if you will, but my parents have always wanted me to do a sport, to remain active and in shape and since I was good at it then I stayed. Actually to this day I still very much love to swim, it relaxes me and it takes my mind somewhere else. What I did not like as as much back then was to actually devote my entire youth and weekends even on holidays to train for swimming competitions.’’

Why did you decide to dive head first after being a swimmer, into the world of modeling and then you literally also switched to teaching?

‘‘How much time do you have? lol I am a super driven man, I am, there is no denial here, so in my mind it’s not even a choice. When I am teaching or when I am shooting in a studio for an editorial or when I was swimming or now designing: I am 100% focused on what I am doing. It’s not a superpower, it’s called concentration. I do feel nowadays many people lack of that: focus. I am very passionate about my dreams and objectives in this world therefore it’s not that I never doubt a business decision or working on a certain project or spending hours doing something, however when I decide to do something then I am present and I work hard on the project at hand. I also feel if I may that it’s because of my background: being a swimmer gave me a sense of following rules, respecting time, working with others, being a good listener and so on. Sports do help you not only physically but also mentally and in other aspects of your life when you least expect it. Lately though, I feel that  because of age and experience maybe: that I am way more capable to switch among my different projects without feeling stressed out than the previous ones aren’t finished yet for example. I remember before that I would feel anxious if I were retouching photos from a photoshoot and suddenly I had to review my Korean lessons or preparing a teaching video or finishing up a sketch for my fashion collection and so on. Now I am way more at ease to do that. One morning I can be  teaching online classes and then in the afternoon drawing for my own pleasure and sketching some things for the brand and for an hour perhaps being on Photoshop for a feature for the magazine and then back again at night for a video montage of an online class I had started in the morning. You know? It’s not tough, but it takes guts, preparation and skills to juggle with every single task at hand. It’s not as much as a gift rather than my own drive to achieve everything I set my mind to. I feel it’s unfortunate when young kids or adults my age have no idea what they want to do or who they want to become. It’s crystal clear for me: I want to be the best version of myself in the future; it’s not about comparing myself to others or someone else, but to be inspired by some individuals, to channel my own passions and to put them to work. Sorry for that monologue ahah lol.’’

What inspired you to go from your Spanish PhD studies to Fashion journalism and fashion design to nowadays teaching?

‘‘I have always had a natural inclination towards learning, always. I love to feel that I am doing something new, I love to reinvent myself, my role model is Tyra Banks so you can understand my drive. I love to create new businesses too and to have fun. Much of my success as a magazine editor, I would say, is not because I had been a male model or because I am also a photographer or someone who has just started his own brand (soon to be released hopefully) or that I was smarter than someone else or that I looked better than other models but that I created my own path, my own avenues. I have never been nor will I ever become more handsome or famous or richer than another magazine editor from my age group but I am gusty and truth be told I have marketed myself in a way that stood out. That’s what some of the household name Supermodels did well in their heyday and to me that’s also the reason why these women are still relevant today. All of my swimming phase, or my short modeling career up until I started my studies in foreign languages, was based on skills and gut, even creating my magazine group but in order to get to the next level and grow on a global stage, I needed further than just passion, I needed to face challenges, to meet other professionals, to travel too. It is the best thing I ever did: traveling abroad, live on my own and keep learning.’’

What attracted you initially to the fashion industry?

‘‘To be honest, I wasn’t attracted to the fashion industry perse or clothes, the fashion industry was there all along when I was just a swimmer. What lead me to it were the 90´s supermodels. I literally was struck by their beauty, how they posed, how they were speaking, the way their life seemed so perfect and glamorous. After seeing that American Vogue cover in October 2002 I may recall, shot by top fashion photographer Steven Klein, of Christy Turlington, I just couldn’t look anywhere else. That image was in my brain forever. I didn’t wake up one day and said to myself: I will be a model, because that life was so removed from my reality. Nevertheless people kept saying when I was growing up that I looked ‘exotic’ whatever that means lol, and so on a hunch I guess and after seeing countless magazine covers and spreads of these legendary supermodels and especially of Tyra Banks, I said to myself: `Well, you’re not losing anything by trying this thing out´. And so I did, for eleven years ahah lol. I keep repeating however that my main goal has always been to create my own magazine, so to start up as a model would actually a stepping stone if you will. Unlike Gisele I was not discovered playing Volleyball or like Tyra on a school bench the first day of high school by a fellow student or like Jourdan Dunn while shopping with friends trying out some sunglasses ahah lol, I just started by doing some test shoots here and there and I finally signed with a few modeling agencies and that’s how I started. I remember going to multiple castings in a single day, all the while I had planned shootings for my book by my agencies and so on, some days were just nuts.’’

Was going abroad to Asia or the USA or LatinAmerica part of your initial plan as a model?

“ I would have loved to actually go and model for a few years in Asia but life intervened and I had my studies with languages that made me focus on teaching rather than full on modeling. Once I was in the fashion world and going to castings, shoots, go-sees, agencies meetings I never stopped thinking about my first dream: to create a magazine that would be mine, therefore I did not focus on trying to travel oversees for months or years.’’

What were the some of your roadblocks?

‘‘The major roadblock was the color of my skin, for sure, it’s still today a very sensitive subject nowadays with the diversity ‘trend’ if we want to call it this way. I guess also  to have had my long hair, my indigenous features or that I did not ever have a six-pack could have also been one of the other hundreds reasons I did not become a super male model ahah lol but no worries it has never been the plan. My goal, after seeing these hundreds of magazines as a teenager, was to create my own, to give chances to other fellow models, to possibly become a photographer, which I did and later to maybe one day publish a photography book which I also managed to do a few years ago . All of these were my goals so I don’t look back on my modeling days thinking ‘I wish I had done this or that’ no.

Why did you decide to do an online web series for Instagram IGTV during the Covid-19 pandemic?

‘‘I had never done something like this and I thought it would be fun so last year we did season 1 and now on IGTV it’s season 2. However, like with all my remaining projects, I don’t like to feel forced to do something, so I preferred not to put a deadline for the next episodes or to see how many episodes this show will have. I do things like this on a hunch.´´

What are you most looking forward to these days?

“ Actually I’m looking forward to seeing the next phase of my life. I’m not in a rush, I’d love to see what the future has in store for me but I don’t keep thinking about it every single day. I live day by day and fulfilling my dreams. I’d love to see myself working even more on my design brand, or perhaps change from magazine to video editing. I don’t know, nothing lasts forever but what I do know though is that I hope one thing: wherever I’d be in the future and whoever will be next to me, and whatever project I will work on: I will keep my inner drive and smile coz these define me.´´

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