Blessed with strapping good looks, a smile that could light up all of New York City, and a remarkably positive attitude towards life, 27-year-old New York City native Nyle DiMarco was destined for success no matter what. But instead of becoming a popular math teacher, which was his goal during his time as a student at Gallaudet University – the nation’s leading educational institution for the deaf – DiMarco has, in just two short years, changed his life completely: first, by becoming the winner of CW’s America’s Next Top Model in 2015, and then, on Tuesday, by being crowned the champion of the 22nd season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars.
DiMarco stopped by the MR office the day after his win, looking great in a smashing gray suit he had custom-made during a trip to Vietnam, to chat about his future, his goals, and, of course, fashion.
MR: What is the most important thing to you about winning Dancing With the Stars?
NYLE DIMARCO: I succeeded in making my message clear that deaf children need to be educated in language, both English and American Sign Language. There are 70 million deaf people worldwide, and only two percent have access to this kind of education. In fact, 75 percent of deaf parents don’t sign to them. To deprive someone of language is to almost make them a vegetable.
MR: The show was also a chance to make people aware of the Nyle DiMarco Foundation. Can you tell us more about that?
ND: It was something I always wanted to do, but in the weeks right before Dancing aired, I rushed to get it set up so that I could take advantage of this amazing platform. The money we’re raising is going to help urge Senators to pass bills in all 50 states to mandate bilingualism. In addition to making standard donations, there are still a couple of days left to buy one of our special T-shirts.
MR: Turning back the clock, tell us about the beginning of your modeling career?
ND: When I was at Gallaudet, a lot of my friends kept urging me to try modeling, but Washington D.C. is not exactly the fashion capital of the world. But then I took two years off after I graduated, and I thought about it, and I started doing a little modeling work. Then I got a call from America’s Next Top Model to audition. They didn’t know I was deaf. Anyway, I think I sent in the best audition tape ever. Eventually, I won the show and now I am signed with Wilhelmina models.
MR: What are your favorite – and least favorite – things about modeling?
ND: My favorite thing is that I can inspire other deaf people. It’s sort of uncharted territory. Also, I’m an adventurous guy and I love being able to explore the world and meet new people. My least favorite thing, I guess, is that much of the public doesn’t realize what we do. They think modeling is not a real job. It is a job!
MR: What is your dream modeling job? Photographer? Campaign?
ND: I would love to work with Mario Testino, and I would be so honored to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Maybe someday I’ll be on the swimsuit issue.
MR: Let’s talk a little about a fashion. Who are you favorite designers and how would you describe your style?
ND: I love Hugo Boss, Dolce & Gabbana, and Hickey Freeman. I do like classic clothing, but I am a more contemporary guy. I love to follow the trends.
MR: What’s the most exciting thing, in your opinion, happening in menswear? What’s your favorite piece in your wardrobe?
ND: Joggers. They’re the best. I have lots of them. I think they’re really stylish –and really hot!
MR: On the show, you got to dress up a lot in formalwear. Do you enjoy doing that?
ND: Yes, I think I look best in suits and tuxedos.
MR: Shawl collar or peak lapel?
ND: Peak lapel, definitely.
MR: Is there anyone you look to for wardrobe advice?
ND: I take my mom shopping. She really knows and loves clothes, and has good taste. And she could shop all day if you let her!
MR: Would you want to design your own line of clothes?
ND: I’d be open to the Nyle DiMarco collection if someone wants to get in touch. My whole philosophy in life is to be open to any opportunity.
MR: You certainly have a lot of opportunities coming up, personally and professionally. What’s next?
ND: Well, my agent tells me I have a lot of fan mail asking me to be people’s prom dates, but we’ll have to see about that. I am sure I will have some modeling work – especially runway. And I’m working with a friend on developing a TV series with deaf characters, and I will act on that. One of thing that really annoys me is that Hollywood keeps hiring hearing people to play deaf roles, and we can’t always understand what they’re saying. I really want deaf people to feel counted.
For more information, visit www.nyledimarcofoundation.com.