So you want to be a model? How much? Enough to wear a pink shirt in a Mervyns ad and get grief for it at school? For Dennis Kalinin, Las Lomas High class of 2005, the pink shirt was a small price to pay.
“My friends kidded me a bit,” says Kalinin, 18. “I had mentioned I was thinking about modeling. The next thing they knew about it was when they saw me in the ad. So there was a lot of teasing.”
That was halfway through his senior year. A few months later, Kalinin had the last laugh—when he was chosen as one of Abercrombie & Fitch’s faces for fall. Ever since, the Walnut Creek teen’s image has been plastered all over the clothier’s website, billboards, and stores—in black-and-white shots by famed photographer Bruce Weber.
Kalinin got the gig after a wild audition process on an island off the coast of Florida, with 30 other men and women.
“It was like an episode of Survivor. The island had an animal preserve on it. We were photographed with rhinos, cheetahs, giraffes,” he says. “Then, every day, we would meet in this room and they would say, ‘If we don’t call your name, please go outside and wait.’ If your name was called, you were getting flight information to go home.”
Kalinin was one of four finalists who waited in suspense for the winner to appear in the ads.
“Nobody knew who they would pick until the actual pictures came out. It was crazy,” says Kalinin, now in his first year at Cal State Long Beach. “A friend of mine called and said, ‘Looks like someone we know is the new Abercrombie guy.’ I went to the web page, and it was me. Then I checked my phone, and I had all these messages from my friends who had seen it.”