Meet the man bringing personality and drama back to runway modeling – WWD

The robotic, listless modeling of runways has become such a norm that even a small grin or snap of a hair can seem like a transgression.

Pat Boguslawski goes one step further, encouraging the models to linger, gesture, look the audience in the eye and show emotion — or rush across the room as if approaching a strong wind or escaping paparazzi.

He is the “movement director” behind Haider Ackermann’s one-off couture show for Jean Paul Gaultier in January, where elegant poses were essential, and John Galliano’s return to the runway for Maison Margiela, a barn of quirky characters in a hurry as hell.

“I want people to feel confident and good about themselves – and realize that they are more than a model walking without emotion,” he says. “Often they come to auditions feeling like they should be walking like vampires or something.”

In contrast, Boguslawski invites models to liberate their hips and facial muscles to bring energy to the runway and some “extras” to fuel a stronger fashion moment.

Jean Paul Gaultier Couture Spring 2023

A dramatic pose at the Haider Ackermann – Jean Paul Gaultier Spring 2023 Haute Couture Show.

Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

Trained as a dancer in his native Poland, Boguslawski certainly brought something ‘extra’ when he tried his hand at modelling. At a rehearsal for an Alexander McQueen show in 2014, creative director Sarah Burton Boguslawski stopped and asked if he could please teach the other models to feel the music and move like him.

Shortly thereafter, when he was asked to assist on a fashion shoot and advise the model on posing, a lightbulb went through his head. “I said to myself, ‘I’m going to make something of this.’ Because before that I had never really heard of anyone actually doing this job.”

Today he is represented by Streeters and Elite World Group and has posted campaign and show credits for Balenciaga, Gucci, Givenchy, Chanel, Versace, Fendi, Valentino and Louis Vuitton. He has also worked with photographers such as Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, Nick Knight, Alasdair McLellan, Drew Vickers, Charlotte Wales and Mikael Jansson.

In an interview, he expressed hope that fashion might enter an era of more expressive models, and applauded Mugler’s creative director, Casey Cadwallader, for his recent runway extravaganza, which has seen models polish them to the max.

Boguslawski argues that most of the models he has worked with are up for anything and no dance experience is required. “It’s all about how open-minded you are,” he muses. “We should have fun with fashion.”

According to him, fashion followers are “hungry” for energetic moments and original expressions on the runway. Case in point: model Leon Dame’s exaggerated scissor walk, which he constructed for a Maison Margiela show in 2019, went viral, garnering millions of views and nearly as many memes.

“He’s always keen to create,” says Boguslawski of Dame, who closed the Maison Margiela show in Fall 2023 with a twisted, mysterious catwalk stomp that’s memorable.

Maison Margiela Men's Fall 2023

Leon Dame emotional on the Maison Margiela catwalk in autumn 2023.

Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

“Pat knows how to loosen up the hips,” says John Galliano, Maison Margiela’s creative director, in an interview, noting that he hired the movement specialist “to give confidence to some of our younger muses.”

The designer recalls a season when he initiated coed shows for Maison Margiela and put male models in heels.

“Pat was invaluable – he provided confidence, poise and projection for the muses to dominate their space,” explains Galliano. “Pat took them upstairs and they spent a good part of the afternoon being coached. Then they came down to start the fitting and honestly I could see the magic, the effect he had on these guys. They looked so natural in heels.”

For his latest show for the fall 2023 season, Galliano wanted “that very obstinate face, the squinted eyes, just like you do when you’re marching at gale force into a high wind. That was the assignment.”

Not that it was a blanket policy.

“In other places there are small peculiarities, small quirks that we didn’t want to correct; that we wanted to leave or improve. Because it was about characters and taking into account all their different poses and postures,” says the designer. “We had to figure out what that was to make them very individual. Pat was instrumental in that.”

For Ackermann, as Gaultier’s guest couturier, the job was “simply very elegant and beautiful,” according to the movement director.

Not only did he want to show what he calls “couture moves,” he wanted the models to feel “very sexy and feminine and free and beautiful. And just taking the time on the runway to show the audience not just the clothes, but the beauty in them.”

Ackermann says, “With his gentleness and sensuality, Pat is the helping hand for her to move forward with grace and strength.”

Boguslawski was only momentarily at a loss when asked to name his favorite runway walks of all time. The names of four fashion veterans, each with an inimitable presence and gait, gushed out: Maria Carla Boscono, Shalom Harlow, Naomi Campbell and Gisele Bundchen.

Galliano, for example, gets excited when Boguslawski shifts the energy toward more expression on the runway.

“I’ve always been interested in expressive modelling. Why? Because I think once that muse can convince you that he or she owns your outfit, to me that’s someone who’s cool about owning what you’re wearing,” Galliano explains. “Plus, in order for Pat to have him in our fitting room, he has to understand the line. He can often lighten up the situation, which I appreciate so much. He can make me giggle.” Meet the man bringing personality and drama back to runway modeling – WWD

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