Scots ballet dancer becomes international model for Versace and Louis Vuitton

Scots ballet dancer becomes international model for Versace and Louis Vuitton

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From lord of the dance to king of the catwalk – gravity defying Peter Russell has jetéd and pliéd his way to success in the world of modelling.

The flexible 40-year-old, who has danced with companies all over Europe, is now one of Scotland’s most sought-after male models.

Peter, who grew up in Edinburgh, has walked runways across the globe and modelled for some of the hottest designers on the planet including Paul Smith and Louis Vuitton.

The contemporary dancer, who was scouted at the famous La Scala opera house in Milan 12 years ago, has also worked one to one with the queen of fashion – Donatella Versace.

Peter, who has lived in Sweden, Italy, Denmark and LA, returned home to Scotland three years ago and now has Britain’s biggest brands queuing up to use him in their advertising campaigns.

Model Peter Russell has become a regular on glossing magazine covers

The former professional dancer, who is signed to Scotland’s top agency Colours, said: “I will always be a dancer at heart but modelling has opened so many doors and has allowed me to see the world.

“My dance background has also made for some impressive action modelling shots for magazines and adverts in countries across the globe.

“My passion for dancing began at an early age. I used to sneak out of school and go down the to Dance Base in Edinburgh to do break dance and ballet classes.

“After school I auditioned and got a scholarship to do a BA in dance and performance at Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds from there I went to London and for the next 10 years I was dancing in different companies in London, Sweden and Denmark.

“I danced in operas, musicals and contemporary dance shows that toured around Europe. It was an exciting the time and nothing can beat the thrill and freedom of throwing yourself about a stage.”

The former Merchiston Castle pupil added: “I got a knee injury and needed an operation which forced me to take a few months out from dancing. While I was recovering I took a trip to Italy and that’s when I got into the modelling.

“I was in Milan visiting a friend who was performing at the big opera house La Scala. He was choreographing a piece and he introduced me to a modelling agent who signed me up immediately. I could have gone back to dancing but I decided to have a shot at a new career.”

Peter Russell in his contemporary dance days

The 6ft2in hunk spent the next four years in Italy working for the top names in the fashion industry. He said: “I hit the Italian modelling scene at exactly the right time as tall foreign men with beards were in high demand. The fact that I was Scottish made me even more desirable.

“I started with Paul Smith and Louis Vuitton but one of the clients I worked with the longest was Versace which was pretty cool. I was working in house and got to do some of their fashion shows. I got to do their presentations and at one stage I was doing them for Donatella herself.

“I would be ushered into her studio and I would be modelling her range for the next season and she would either make the adjustments on the clothes I was wearing herself or get the designers to do it for her.

“She came along with her little dog and she would be smoking a cigarette. She would say to me: ‘Darling would you like an expresso, yes, someone get him an expresso.’

“She was a real caricature really lovely but so weird to see up close and personal.”

Peter, who did a gap year between school and uni teaching science in a Ugandan village, added: “For a guy from Scotland having all those big names felt pretty impressive but when you are there for a few years you get used to it.

“I did seasons in South Africa, Asia and Turkey. I did campaigns for Philip Morris the cigarette people and pictorials for GQ and Men’s Health magazines. I also did lots of catalogue work in Austria and Germany and randomly modelled a range of celebrity socks on the runway in the Phillipines.

“One of the most impressive shows I did was for Italian designer Stefano Ricci at the famous Uffizi Gallery in Florence alongside eight Masai warriors who had been flown over from Tanzania. It was incredible.”

After four years in Milan, Peter, who is fluent in Swedish and Italian, came back to London and did a Masters in Film and Directing at Central St Martins.

He moved to LA and worked for a production company for a couple of years before returning to Scotland in 2017 and continuing his modelling career.

Dancer turned model on the front cover of Fashion Week

Peter, who works in digital marketing, said: “I was delighted when Colours took me on and thanks to them I’ve had some amazing jobs. I’ve done a lot with Trespass – shooting in the Canary Islands and up in Aviemore and Glencoe.

“I’ve done campaigns for Lyle and Scott knitwear and am a regular in the Scottish wedding magazines and catwalk shows. I’ve also done Alistair Divine’s Men In Kilts calendar twice. My favourite shot of me leaping in a kilt outside the Hydro. My dance training can come in very handy.

“I’ve modelled all over the world but Scotland is definitely the friendliest place to work. The models are down to earth and the atmosphere on shoots is fantastic.

The dancer was scouted at the famous La Scala opera house in Milan 12 years ago

He added: “I do yoga and go the gym to stay in shape but I haven’t danced in a while. I turned 40 in January and have made a resolution to start dancing again for fun.

“One of the people I worked with in England got me into latin ballroom dancing which I loved so I’m hoping to go back to tangoing and salsaing soon.

“Dancing and modelling will always be my two greatest loves and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds once lockdown eases and the fashion industry picks up again.”

Rosalynd Ramage of Colours said: “Peter is one of Scotland’s most in-demand male models. His incredible dance background sets him apart and when it comes to action shots he is a photographer’s dream.”





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