LONDON — While Zendaya represents Pierpaolo Piccioli’s ideal of the Valentino woman in the post-pandemic world, the tattooed, blond model and music artist Teddy Corsica is the creative director’s vision of the Valentino man.

As the face of the brand’s 2021 fall men’s ACT collection campaign, shot by David Sims and styled by Joe McKenna, Piccioli described Corsica — who he discovered via street casting in London last year — as “romantic, subversive, punk, gentleman, free,” and “a movement on perspective, an identity redefinition” for the brand.

Yet, at the beginning, Corsica didn’t even think it was a possibility for him to work with a luxury brand like Valentino.

“When I turned up at the casting. I was thinking, there’s no way in hell that they will decide to cast me in this,” said Corsica, who, assuming he wouldn’t get the job, even got a face tattoo in between the casting and later flying to Milan last September to walk for the brand, which was his first runway show ever.

“I met Piccioli at the first show fitting. We got on just like a house on fire,” he recalled.

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“Valentino was the start of my modeling career as me,” said Corsica. He had done a few modeling gigs in 2017, but said he was a totally different person with far fewer tattoos.

For him, a tattoo is a form of art, just like music and fashion. “That’s what I think looks cool, and my way of expressing myself,” he said.

Corsica is grateful to Piccioli for appreciating who he really is. He said back in the day, he would get dropped from jobs because he was covered with tattoos.

“Valentino is really like a family. I know a lot of brands say that. But with Valentino, it’s very much the case, because he knows the name of every single person who’s working toward creating a vision. He is so well aware of how essential these individuals are. To come together to create something so beautiful. And just being able to be part of his vision, and also getting to know him that much more. Understanding each other on an intellectual and human basis has been the best part of it,” he said.

Teddy Corsica starring in Valentino fall 2021 men’s campaign. Courtesy

“I remember watching the first Valentino couture show by Pierpaolo Piccioli. And I was like, ‘Wow, this man has a vision like no other.’ The references that he incorporates go so far beyond. I remember seeing this interview with him. He said: ‘I’m not just an Italian, I’m a Roman.’ That encapsulated me, and resonated so heavily with me,” he added.

Born in Basingstoke just outside London, Corsica grew up in New York and Connecticut. He dropped out of school at age 17 and moved to London; he believes that he is worth more than “trying to go down this prescriptive route of going to this university to get this degree.”

Besides modeling, Corsica is a music artist. Since working with Valentino, he has been approached a few times by record labels, but at this stage, he feels most comfortable creating music from his bedroom with his mates so “I don’t have any limitations on what I create.”

Corsica said it’s very hard to put his music into just one genre.

“For my first EP released on Spotify in January, genre wise, that is a sort of combination of emo and trap, influenced by sort of Pink Floyd, psychedelic chords with breakdowns and big buildups,” he explained. “Whereas the next track I have coming out in September, with a music video with a couple of my friends, people probably would call it hyper pop. lt’s fast paced. It still has that sort of emo influence. But when you hear my music, you can tell my vocals carry through regardless of whatever genre I’m making music on.”

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