How a local teenager modelled for Dior in front of the pyramids
A local secondary school student made his modelling debut last week at the launch of the prestigious Christian Dior Autumn 2023 collection in front of the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
The story of how young Sonny Drummond (17) was catapulted to the forefront of the international male modelling world is a remarkable one of talent, coincidence, fate and a stunning calmness amidst a mind-boggling journey.
A 5th year student at Athlone Community College, and son of Blaise Drummond and Síabhra Durcan, from Tang, Ballymahon, Sonny has up to now experienced the normal life of a secondary school student in the Midlands.
Yet last Saturday night, as the sun set over the iconic pyramids, he was wearing the clothes of one of the world's most prestigious fashion houses in a spectacular show that it's estimated will be seen by millions.
And to top it all off, Sonny met the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Naomi Campbell and Lila Moss at an exciting after-show party and is now hoping to jet off again to Paris Fashion Week in January.
Speaking of his experience in Egypt, Sonny told the Westmeath Independent: “I have never, never experienced anything like it. It was so crazy, weirdly it felt so not real that I didn't really get that nervous. It was so completely out of the ordinary.”
The bewildering turn of events, and all that has ensued, has its origin in a random moment last July.
Sonny was walking through the venue on the first day of the Longitude Music Festival in Dublin, when he was approached by a man, Joel Bough, who introduced himself as a scout for a modelling agency.
Sonny explained: “He said he loved my look and asked me if I would mind if he took some photographs”.
He posed for the camera, despite the banter from his assembled friends, but shrugged off the encounter quickly.
“He gave me his card and I put it in my pocket and didn't really think about it until the end of the day.
“We just thought it was kind of funny. We didn't really take it that seriously," he explained.
In the early hours of the morning, after he had returned to his family home, he told his mother of the unusual incident and showed her the business card.
His mother Síabhra recognised the name, Elite, probably the world's foremost modelling agency, and at that stage they realised that this was not something to dismiss so easily.
A few days later, Sonny was contacted by the scout who asked for some more pictures and then subsequently he was invited to travel to London to meet executives of the agency and to pose for further photographs.
“I met them all in the agency and they said they were interested in signing me,” he said, and a week later, contracts were signed.
Although excited by the news, Sonny said: “I thought although I got signed it was pretty unlikely that I would end up getting any job out of it. There are obviously so many models out there”.
But the story still had yet another twist.
In October, Sonny was informed that Dior were possibly interested in selecting him as one of a group of people from the agency for work.
As he had done throughout the entire experience, Sonny refused to allow himself get overwhelmed.
After sending some new photos and videos to Dior, the young student convinced himself that he hadn't been chosen. “I thought it was a one in a million shot anyway,” he said.
“One day I got into the car after school and Mum just told me I had been picked and that we were going to Egypt at the end of November for their show in front of the pyramids. I couldn't believe it. No one would even believe me!”
And so, on Monday, November 28, Sonny and his mother arrived at the airport in Egypt where they were met by a driver and bodyguard – the first sign of what was to come!
They were staying in the five-star Ritz Carlton Hotel beside the River Nile for a week of fittings and preparation.
Sonny was among 75 models for the show as Dior is marking its 75th anniversary this year.
On Tuesday evening, Sonny was fitted and brought in front of the creative director Kim Jones and key people from Dior.
Talking through the day's experience with his mother that night in the hotel, Sonny mentioned casually that a man had made a hat for him for an outfit.
It prompted his mother to explain: “There was a press conference the next day at the hotel and I realised that the person who had put the hat on Sonny was Stephen Jones, the most famous milliner in the world.”
In another mind-blowing moment, Sonny's naturally bushy hair was styled for the show by Guido Palau, another legendary name in the industry.
The night before the show was the first time Sonny and the other models were brought to the set, in front of the pyramids.
Then on Saturday, after a couple of walk-throughs with footwear and sunglasses, it was show time.
Sonny explained: “It got dark and all the guests starting filing in. Then it started to hit me and I got a bit nervous.”
As Sonny stepped out onto the catwalk – amid a riot of lasers and a backdrop of techno music, he found himself strangely serene.
“I just completely left myself I suppose and just completely zoned in.”
The collection launch was a huge success and the dramatic production can be seen here.
The feedback for Sonny has been overwhelmingly positive: “My agent said they were absolutely thrilled for me. I think I am supposed to be heading off to Paris for Fashion Week in January.”
Importantly, Sonny said he was comfortable in the environment and is full of praise for the other models.
“Everyone was so, so nice... It was a great cultural experience to talk to all of them. A lot of them when they found out it was my first job, they said for one thing, they had never met an Irish boy and that if this was the show I was starting with, they all figured I have a great career ahead of me and hopefully they are right.”
As Sonny is technically a minor, his mother, Síabhra, accompanied him on the trip as a chaperone.
She too was impressed by what she learned about the industry.
“Everybody that dealt with Sonny was very, very kind. He was very well looked after. It was obvious that they were making sure at all times that the models had a lot of food and plenty of drinks,” she explained, having admitted that the family had concerns initially .
This week Sonny is back at home with his parents in the family home he shares with his three siblings, Beatrice, a student at UCD, Arthur, a second year student at Athlone Community College, and Blaise, who attends Ardnagrath NS.
His experiences are the talk of his school and everyone wants to know the details. But despite the thrill and the prospect of Paris Fashion Week and a career in modelling, Sonny is determined to continue his education and to proceed to third-level.
“I'll see how far modelling takes me, but at the end of the day, it won't be around forever so I'm going to keep the head down for now.”