By Alev Aktar
There were plenty of major models in fly clothes at Fashion Week’s Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya presentation outside the Apollo Theater, from the gloriously pregnant Ashley Graham and besuited Alek Wek to spruce Winnie Harlow. But it was dancer and model Alton Mason who stole the show when he spun, slid and strutted his way down the runway in a snake-print suit. The star-studded crowd went crazy for his elastic moves.
“I was simply just ‘being’ and allowing the music to lead my soul,” the 6-foot-2-inch catwalk king tells Alexa. “Before the show, Tommy Hilfiger told me to ‘put some swag on ‘em.’ Zendaya, [stylist] Law Roach and the entire team backstage were celebrating and directing us to be ‘expressive, alive and energic.’ My body and spirit translated that on its own.”
The 21-year-old is known not just for his physical beauty, but for his grace, elan and irresistible charisma. In just a few years, he has gone from being discovered on Instagram and landing in Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 spectacle at Madison Square Garden to becoming a Gucci runway regular. He also breakdanced in the Italian house’s first all-black ad campaign, scored multiple international magazine covers and became the first black male model to stroll a Chanel show.
He has already logged so many “I must be dreaming” moments. “The first that comes to mind is when I flew to Paris to be shot by Karl Lagerfeld for his campaign. Looking into his eyes and listening to him tell me I’m going to walk in Chanel [Métiers d’Art] at the Metropolitan Museum literally stunned me. Listen — my chest? Yooo … aha!”
The son of a professional basketball player and a model mom, young Mason lived in 11 countries from Bosnia to Belgium while his father played for overseas teams. When he was 17, he moved to Los Angeles to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Today, he lives in both LA and New York.
Naturally agile, he started gymnastics at a tender age. “My dad taught me how to do a back-flip at the age of 4 in our living room,” says Mason. “I got to train in gymnastics at Desert Devils in Phoenix and all over Europe as well.” His tumbling skills have already come in handy. Dressed in a purple Prince outfit, he did back handsprings down the Louis Vuitton runway in January.
To be continued…