Sonny Drummond was looking for his friends at the Longitude music festival, in Dublin, in July when a man walked up to him, said he was a scout from a modelling agency and asked if he could take a photo, as he loved Drummond’s look.
The 17-year-old agreed, gave the scout, Joel Bough of Elite, his Instagram details, and then laughed the whole thing off with his friends, not thinking it was a serious approach. But it’s a well-established way for agencies to find models, and when, back at home near Ballymahon, Drummond showed his mother Bough’s business card, she immediately recognised Elite as one of the world’s leading model management companies. “And we both got quite excited,” Drummond says.
Five months later, on December 3rd, he was modelling for Dior at the Great Pyramid of Giza in one of the most spectacular fashion events ever staged in Egypt. He was one of 75 male models chosen to show 75 looks as darkness fell on an LED-lit runway snaking across the desert in front of a celebrity-studded audience of 800. The show, which Dior’s creative director, Kim Jones, called Celestial, was held to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the fashion house in Paris by Christian Dior. It was, according to his mother, Síabhra, who accompanied him as a chaperone, a wondrous spectacle – the music, the lighting, the clothing and the beautifully lit pyramids.
Even after Drummond signed up with Elite, and travelled to London in July to be photographed for the agency, he hadn’t expected to get any work – and had never thought of himself as a potential model. Being told by his mother, as he was getting into the car one day after school, that he’d been picked for Dior and was off to Egypt “was the most insane news for me, and weird to have this incredible opportunity randomly landed on you”, he says. No doubt his looks, height, fitness and athleticism – he plays rugby, Gaelic football and soccer – were deciding factors.
In Egypt they were put up at a Ritz-Carlton beside the Nile for a week of fittings and rehearsals. Almost all the other models were aged between 19 and 24. Only Drummond and one other person were younger. The others had all modelled before, too – “they told me things like don’t swing your arms, keep your head straight, fake confidence and you’ll get through it.” What he found hardest was keeping the perfect distance between the models in front of and behind him. “So it was tricky, and that was hard in the dark with sunglasses on. But once I stepped out I just remained very focused – and I enjoyed it.” Backstage afterwards, “it was like winning a match – we were jumping up and down and high-fiving.”
Síabhra says that, at the postshow party, Drummond got to say hello to Lewis Hamilton, the Formula 1 driver, of whom he’s a big fan, and – to the envy of girls at Athlone Community College, where he’s a fifth-year student – chatted with Lila Grace Moss, Kate Moss’s daughter, “who was very nice and interested to know I was from Ireland. Lots of the models said they had never met an Irish model.”
Drummond is hoping to be cast again for the menswear shows in Paris in January, “but I am not letting it unfocus me”, he says. With English and history his favourite subjects, he is thinking about third level and following his interests in philosophy, film and drama. Creativity runs in the family – his father is the painter Blaise Drummond, and his mother is the daughter of the poet Paul Durcan. In the meantime he will see how far modelling takes him, “but I don’t think I will ever see anything so special again”.