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Interview With Top Male Model Baptiste Giabconi

A boy and his Barbies...could his relatonship with Mr. Lagerfeld be more mysterious?

Currently the highest money earning male model in the world and the obvious muse of CHANEL'S Karl Lagerfeld, Baptiste Giabconi took some time from his hectic life of fashion shows, photo shoots and work-outs to speak with The London Evening Standard's Annabel Rivkin (lucky gal!).

'If you want to party without sex, drugs or rock'n'roll, I am your man.' (says Giabiconi) I think he's lying, this funny, feline boy who jingles with jewellery and moves in slo-mo. Rumour has it that at those high-powered fashion dinners he is a positive Little Lord Fauntleroy, fastidious in his faultlessness, until Herr Lagerfeld (who is, after all, 56 years his senior) heads for bed, at which point Baptiste rages and frotts and grinds just as a hot-blooded 21-year-old with every teenage French girl's (and many boy's) heart in his back pocket should do.

Although he is a little absurd, a little style-over-everything, it shames me to admit that he is monumentally sexy. No wonder men, women, children and chiens fling themselves at him as he jogs up and down the Seine near his Left Bank apartment. 'When I am on stage I must not tire easily so the running helps a lot.' He is a proper pin-up in France, having appeared in countless Chanel campaigns since Lagerfeld discovered him in 2008, as well as many of the maestro's catwalk shows and photo shoots, the latter done mainly in the buff.

He saunters into The River Café early on a bright February morning, fresh from Claridge's and gleaming with the miracle of youth, hair wax, silver chains, rings, belts and a vast watch by Richard Mille for whom he is an ambassador. 'I was given my first watch, a Rolex Submariner, as a present,' he says, 'which was excellent as I had wanted one since I was 16. Now I have about 20 watches.' Would it be mean-spirited to point out that, even so, he is 20 minutes late? But I forgive him.

He was born and brought up in the southern seaside town of Marseilles where, after his parents split up when he was 12, his mother struggled to raise him and his two older sisters(now a sales assistant and a nurse), holding down a job at the mayor's office. 'The first thing I bought with my first big paycheck was a piece of jewellery for my mother,' he says. 'She was so nervous for me when I left home to go to Paris, but now she thinks everything that has happened in the past two years is amazing. In a way, my family feel it more than I do.'

He left school at 14 to embark on a hotel training apprenticeship and, diploma completed at 17, he started work assembling parts in a helicopter factory to save up enough for his own pizza-delivery business. 'I thought that if I got hands-on experience then one day I could be manager of my own restaurant.' He was not, he insists, an attractive adolescent. 'I was skinny and spotty and awkward and uncomfortable in my own skin,' he says through those perfect, fruity lips. 'So I started to bulk up, to develop muscle and to gain some confidence. I stuck to a rigid schedule.' Briefly, the dancing welder from Flashdance flickers across the mind.

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