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People

J.P

Interviewed by: Jack Moss
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Date: 2020.09.10
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Photo: Kurt Iswarienko

In the heady heyday of his first-name-only contemporaries – Cindy, Naomi, Christy, Linda et al – Yorkshire-born John Pearson was dubbed the ‘world’s first male supermodel’ by The Sunday Times. An arm-long CV tells you why: from appearing in George Michael’s Freedom ‘90 video to ad campaigns for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Valentino and more, he more than kept up with his female counterparts. Now settled in Los Angeles he begins a new chapter, finding a network home for his culture-themed show ‘Looking for Picasso’ and launching Mr Feelgood, a straight-talking lifestyle and mindfulness website for men (no crystals required).

» For the last six months, travel has been on pause. But when you dream about somewhere special, somewhere you love and can’t wait to return to, where is it and why?

Getting lost in Paris in the springtime – it seems an age, a lifetime ago, since I last spent quality time in Paris. I long to visit and just walk everywhere: the museums, the cafés, and drink in the atmosphere and culture. For some reason in Paris, like no other major western city, I always feel if I want to be alone, I can be; I can morph into the hustle and bustle of the city and become invisible. But at the same time, if I ever get tired of [being alone], it’s almost magical that I will run into someone I know, or reach out and make a new acquaintance who has an interesting story.

» How have you fulfilled your wanderlust in lockdown?

Rereading Hemingway – A Moveable Feast, A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises. We’ve also been moving house during lockdown: our new home is atop a hill in the wilds around Calabasas so there’s an old school ‘in the thick of nature’ vibe that comes with the territory. Lots of new hikes to discover and lots of bunnies, gophers and snakes!

» What have you missed about travelling?

The adventure. Discovering a new place or somewhere that is very different to my home. I love meeting new people, exchanging stories and ideas. Learning. Being surprised and, whenever possible, having some degree of culture shock, which is very rare these days given our interconnectedness.

» What is the hotel you keep returning to, and what makes it special?

Any hotel that treats you like a dear friend and does so with integrity and genuine warmth. Claridge’s in London, The Bowery Hotel in New York City and Hotel Santa Caterina in Amalfi. And it must have a great bed and wonderful sheets!

» What’s your favourite beach in the world?

Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur and Rincon – both in California.

» Who is your favourite travel companion and why?

I have to say I love travelling solo. I can experience everything anew; I am only responsible for myself. I treasure such adventures.

» Which three items do you always pack in your suitcase, regardless of where you’re travelling to?

Something to read – meaning an actual book. My Paul Smith boots because my feet never ache wearing them, no matter how many miles I cover walking. Cashmere sweater. Yoga pants, Buck Mason tees.

» What’s your worst travel fashion error?

I guess in hindsight my beloved string vest in the 1980s was the epitome of naff!

» What’s in your beach bag?

Books, pen, writing notebook, water, Lavett & Chin coconut facial mist and rose squalane oil.

» Do you have a routine to beat jet lag? What is it?

Just keep going! Carry on. Try and acclimatise to the rhythm of the place you touch down in. If wide awake then read until drowsy, or just lie in the dark and attempt to be very calm and meditative.

» Was there ever a time when the journey was actually better than the destination?

Great question. Many times I’ve enjoyed the journey as much and sometimes more than the destination – this makes me think of the train journeys I’ve taken across Europe and across America. I absolutely love taking the train. It seems to be a lot less stressful and the rhythm is comforting. It’s a time to get lost in one’s imagination, read, write, meet new people, and enjoy an ever-changing landscape.

We were shooting the Connolly campaign in Scotland a couple of years ago and got caught in a massive snow storm. Trains were massively delayed and signals and lines down. What was meant to be a four-hour journey to Yorkshire became a 14-hour journey. We were slammed like sardines in-between carriages and although it was obviously an absolute pain, it also brought out – for the most part – a great humour and camaraderie between the travellers. You remember the wit and smile, not the hassle.

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