Texas to New York
Garland, Texas native Tyson Ballou moved to New York City in 1998. Shortly thereafter, Ballou signed with IMG models, and buzzed off the thick, raven-colored locks that initially garnered him the most attention from modeling scouts in Texas and New York. Ballou quickly captured the industry’s most influential editors and image-makers, and received his big break courtesy of a series of advertising campaigns for Jil Sander and Perry Ellis photographed by Mario Sorrenti.
Perhaps best known for his square jaw, and movie star good looks, Ballou is often cast in editorial features as a leading man. In homage to John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Carolyn Bassett Kennedy, Bruce Weber photographed Ballou, alongside Kate Moss, for the cover of L’Uomo Vogue in 2000.
SPORTY SEXY COOL
Ballou also starred in one of the first DKNY Jeans promotions, photographed by Mikael Jansson, and he created quite the stir in 2001 when his steamy Emporio Armani fragrance images were released. In the campaign, promoting his and her fragrance pairings, Ballou famously shared an amber-lit embrace with model Amanda Moore, and the tagline read simply: “get together.”
Ballou starred in the Fabien Baron and Karl Templer-lensed series for three consecutive years, and was heralded as the number one male supermodel—a title he holds today, well over a decade later. Baron and Templer also captured Ballou for a series of athletic, and provocatively sensual images for Hugo Boss’ Orange, and Bodywear lines.
REBEL WITH A CAUSE
As a testament to Ballou’s versatility, Solve Sundsbo photographed him for the double gatefold cover of The Face magazine in a devil-may-care ready leather suit. Before long, Ballou’s trademark locks had grown, and Steven Meisel photographed him front and center for Versace’s 1970’s-tinged winter campaign, all wind machine and fifth button undone, styled by Bill Mullen.
Liz Collins photographed Ballou for the cover of Numéro Homme, and Steven Klein photographed him for a Bill Blass advert. Perhaps in reaction to the political tension brewing stateside, and internationally, Patrick Demarchelier captured Ballou, plank style, between army barracks bunk beds with i.d. tags hanging from his neck for Moschino. Perhaps echoing his career, the hauntingly beautiful images showcase him as a fiercely determined, yet intensely vulnerable young man, ready to confront the unknown.
It was no surprise when Ballou was named the face of Dolce & Gabbana. Much like his previous efforts, it seemed Ballou was destined to lead a pack of impossibly handsome young men—whether in shorts and unzipped windbreakers, exclusively; in slick, James Bond-esque tuxedos; or wearing festive regional dress [read: painterly linen shirts, scarves, and mandals]; the images were produced by Steven Klein.
Over the next few seasons, Ballou sat for Mert & Marcus for Louis Vuitton, styled by Katie Grand, and collaborated with Jansson for H&M, Demarchelier for 7 for All Mankind Jeans (alongside Carolyn Murphy). He also sat for David Sims who photographed him for both Belstaff, and Ferragamo campaigns.
Klein, in keeping with his subversive aesthetic, used Ballou for a sadistic love story in W magazine that featured Linda Evagelista as a glamorous dominatrix. For his pains, Mario Testino “rescued” Ballou, who next appeared on the cover of V magazine in a swaddling loin cloth, cradeled in the arms of contemporary performance artist Marina Abramovic.
In addition to the aforementioned, Ballou has had the great fortune of sitting for Craig McDean, Karl Lagerfeld, Mark Segal, Greg Kadel, Nathaniel Goldberg, Peter Lindbergh, Carter Smith, Willy Vanderperre, Paolo Roversi, and Alasdair McLellan for the international editions of Vogue, POP, Arena, Arena Homme Plus, Harpers Bazaar, Hercules, Details, V Man, and W magazines.
He has also appeared in promotions for French Connection, Cesare Paciotti, and Sisley and Jones, by Terry Richardson, Inez and Vinoodh, and Camilla Akrans, respectively.
After a decade at the top of the modeling industry, Ballou’s career catapulted far beyond the stratosphere when he signed on as the face of Calvin Klein in 2010.
For over four years, Ballou has sat for Mert & Marcus, Mario Sorrenti, and Daniel Jackson for the house’s print and television advertisements, and its myriad minimalist divisions, including its White, and Collection labels. At present, in our Hollywood-obsessed, celebrity-driven market, Ballou shows no signs of slowing down, evinced by the two covers of Details magazine he recently fronted (by John Balsom, and Mark Seliger, respectively), and the billboards carrying his imposing, larger-than-life figure.