Are AI Researchers The New Models? A New YSL Campaign Suggests, Yes

Wild hair and snowy jacket ? . With love . ❄️?⛷ ?---> ☃??

A post shared by Alexandre R (@nadraxel) on

In the words of acclaimed male model Derek Zoolander, "there's a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking." Right now, one man might understand this better than anyone else: Alexandre Robicquet.
Robicquet is one of the faces of Yves Saint Laurent's new Y fragrance for men, but don't let the campaign fool you into thinking its his full-time job. Quite the opposite: Robicquet is a research assistant and graduate student in the Artificial Intelligence department at Stanford University. He works under Sebastian Thrun, the founder of Google X, a secretive research innovation lab. One of the research projects listed on Robicquet's Stanford profile describes using AI to detect early stages of cancer.
Robicquet also appreciates poetry. In an interview with Hunger, the AI researcher/model advises anyone looking to find their creative path to "Read the poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling."
But this cancer-curing, poetry-reciting model is just like the rest of us with a job. Case in point — he gets the Monday struggle.

Mondayz mood... #nowbackinbed . ? @luis_gaudi

A post shared by Alexandre R (@nadraxel) on

The Verge calls attention to the AI community's excited, if hesitant, response to Robicquet's YSL campaign and even questions what it means. Could Robicquet be the first artificial intelligence crossover star? The new double threat? In response to one tweet showing a photo from the campaign, a machine learning researcher notes that it resulted in "quite a buzz in our office today" and made "a few consider other career options."
Robicquet's career isn't exactly hidden in the video for the campaign, either. We see him briefly coding, and then seemingly presenting his research findings to an audience. The video also stars two other men, whose artistic careers fall in more expected realms. Loyle Carner, shown writing and recording music, is a rapper, and David Alexander Flinn, shown moodily walking around his creation, is a sculptor and filmmaker.
Fashion, beauty, and tech have become increasingly intertwined in recent years, but this instance of researcher as model feels like a small cultural moment for the tech community. While it's unlikely we'll start seeing coders walking the runway at fall fashion shows (or we might, who knows?), it isn't outlandish to think that we'll start seeing more of them in the public eye.
One thing's for sure: The stereotype of the lonely programmer in his dark basement is starting to break.

More from Tech

R29 Original Series