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Model Citizen: Corey Baptiste


Corey Baptiste is one of the most successful male models. Now he wants to end discrimination in fashion.

Photography by Celeste Sloman. Tank top by Louis Vuitton.

In the modeling world, Corey Baptiste is an anomaly. At 24, he's known as one of the "money guys," an elite group of male models who are designer favorites, frequently book campaigns and runway shows, and collect big bucks. But Baptiste has the distinction of being the only black man among them.

EXCLUSIVE: Spring Fashion Preview With Corey Baptiste

The young model admits he's been lucky. After securing his first contract for DKNY at 19--just two months after his agency, VNY, signed him--he soon landed campaigns for Benetton, Banana Republic, Kenzo and Ralph Lauren. And yet despite his devastatingly good looks (his mother is from Grenada, his father from Trinidad), his success has had its hurdles.

Photography by Celeste Sloman. Tank top by Louis Vuitton.

"During Milan Fashion Week about two years ago, a casting director stood up and told me in front of everyone that they weren't looking for a model of color at the time," he says. The episode greatly affected Baptiste, who grew up in the Bronx and studied criminal law at John Jay College. "Every day I wake up, I may think of giving up," he says, "or that my time is done because African-Americans have a limited number of jobs in this business. But I see the door opening a little bit, and I'm here to knock it down."

If more trendsetting European fashion houses get on board, he could. "Without the support of the bigger brands, I don't think fashion will take the next step," Baptiste says. "Calvin Klein and Bottega Veneta have used a black model in their campaigns, but it'd be huge if one day Giorgio Armani or Dolce and Gabbana did. Even if it's not me--just somebody--I would love to see it."

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