Ten years ago, Kate Cummins hid in the back of the room to watch her 12-year-old son, Atticus Rodda, model for a Beall’s department store ad. His cropped hair, chic glasses and confident swagger were on point.
“He nailed it,” she said. “He was so cute.”
These days, she travels to Europe to watch him walk the runways of some of the world’s most renowned fashion houses.
As a student at St. Petersburg High School, Rodda used to embellish some of his outfits with patches. But those trimmings were no match for the silk overcoats, sleeveless button-down shirts and leather lace-up boots he has been donning for designers like Saint Laurent and Celine since he graduated in 2018.
Rodda, 21, doesn’t remember when he first decided he wanted to be a model. He posed for head shots in high school and “definitely paid attention to what I was wearing.”
His mom, though, knew what it would take to launch her son’s career, having herself walked the runways in New York City in the 1980s with supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Stephanie Seymour.
As he matured, Cummins could tell her 6-foot-3-inch son had a unique appearance, alluring to luxury designers. “He doesn’t have a classic Calvin Klein, all-American look,” she said.
She said they tried modeling in New York, but Rodda hadn’t yet developed a look that appealed to the agencies. Cummins describes his look as “more androgynous, like if Tilda Swinton and David Bowie had a baby.”
On her advice, he found an agent in Europe and is represented by Tomorrow Is Another Day, a firm headquartered in Cologne, Germany.
Rodda initially contracted to model exclusively for luxury designer Celine. He did three major shows until 2020, when the pandemic halted fashion events worldwide. He came home to St. Petersburg and worked as a parking valet until his $2,000-a-show (plus room and board) career could be rebooted.
Earlier this year, he signed with Saint Laurent and spent a month in Paris so the designers could use him as a “fit model” to create the clothes he would model in Venice in July.
Saint Laurent commissioned an artist to create a giant mirrored pavilion on the Venice island of Isola Della Certosa to introduce the men’s 2022 spring and summer collection. The looks Rodda modeled included an all-black ensemble with a long, black coat and a black velvet suit with flared pants.
“I think that Celine and Saint Laurent clothes look the best on me with the black jeans and kind of a rock star style,” Rodda said.
His plan was to head back to Europe this fall to audition for more of the 2022 runway shows.
“There’s definitely more work for me in Europe,” he said. He wants to model for some of his favorite designers in the future, including Rick Owens and Raf Simons.
“I think they are very unique and they’re not too mainstream,” Rodda said. “I think their clothes are interesting and they have a certain swag about them.”
The most unusual outfit he recalled modeling was a striking leopard print overcoat he wore for a Celine show. “It was crazy,” he said, adding that his personal style is much simpler.
“I usually wear my trusty Adidas pants with zippers on the pockets and a hoodie or something,” he said.
“He looks good in everything he wears,” said Cummins. When he lands his next runway job, she hopes to be sitting in the audience to cheer him on.
No more need to peek from backstage.