Words: Isabel Pinto Photo: Frederico Martins for Portuguese Soul
His curls are just one of his brand images, alongside his brown eyes and his 6ft 2in height. To these physical traits, you can add his personality. Francisco Henriques, or Kiko to his friends, combines his good nature with persistence in the positive way in which he views life with a focus on his profession. “Never give up” are the words by which he lives.
He leapt into the limelight with Paco Rabanne’s international Pure XS campaign. Over the past five years, he has gone from strength to strength. Francisco Henriques has not had his head turned by his success and, at the age of 25, is adamant he will remain focused on doing “more and better”. And he has no concerns, even in the highly competitive world in which he works. “No pressure at all. I live life one day at a time”. This is because, he adds, “focus, persistence and not giving up are, undoubtedly, half the battle, and not just in the world of fashion, but in the world of labour in general”.
It is also important to be confident, and the main challenge he poses is, after all, just to be Francisco Henriques. “Fashion is increasingly looking for different and inspiring people. I have my essence. I’m not looking to be like someone else. I am myself”.
And who is Francisco Henriques? My friends call me Kiko. I was born in Lisbon. I wanted to be a footballer, but I ended up being a model on catwalks, editorials and in adverts for world-famous brands like Emporio Armani, Balmain and Hermès.
And for the past three years he has called New York “home”. And while he continues to work in Europe, it is in the city that never sleeps that this Portuguese model has found most work. “Living and working in New York has helped me grow both personally and professionally”, he added.
All of the work he has done “is important” for the construction of who he is as a person. Even so, “I have clients with whom I work regularly and who have become special because I feel I am part of the brand’s DNA”, he said, mentioning Tommy Hilfiger, Armani, D’Squared, Abercrombie, Todd Snyder, Paco Rabanne and Macy’s.
While he has reached a high level, Francisco Henriques lovingly remembers every moment of his career as a model. “I have had beautiful moments since I started working as a model. I perfectly remember my first job in Porto. I arrived there by train, and was very anxious and nervous”, he said. “I remember my first trips to Milan and Paris. The fashion shows were, and continue to be, something I love doing, and you will continue to see me doing them whenever I get the chance”, he said, laughing.
Another of the happiest moments of his modelling career was the day he found out he was to be the face of and ambassador for the new Paco Rabanne scent. “It was a job that gave me huge exposure, enabling me to travel the world to do photoshoots and PR. I learned a great deal”, he said, adding: “There will be many more happy moments. I am making the most of each chapter of my life and work”.
And what has changed in the way you view fashion after all these experiences? “Everything”, he answers quickly, again with a smile. “Five years ago, I know absolutely nothing about any of this. Nowadays, I see fashion as an industry that employs a lot of people, and, especially, as a fantastically creative world filled with designers, stylists, photographers, hairstylists, make-up artists and many more professionals. I believe that when people say they like fashion are not just talking about the clothes, but about this dream that fashion has helped create”. And, without a doubt, Francisco Henriques will keep on dreaming.
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