STORY BY DIANA ADDISON LYLE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CURTIS DAHL
BEAU IDEAL BEAUTY PRODUCTIONS/KATHLEEN HAGAN
STYLING BY JANA RAJLICH
I first heard the powerful throttle of Fabio’s Lamborghini Aventador Superveloce growl its way up the steep Malibu road towards our cover shoot location. After navigating the silver-blue bullet around a few pesky road bumps, the Italian-American Stallion unfurled himself from the hug-the-road height of his pristine car – and the charm offensive began. The neighbors heard the car, came out to survey the action – instantly recognized Fabio – and asked if they could have their picture with him taken. Nothing was orchestrated. Fabio came, they saw, and he conquered. It was a classical piece of literature.
The son of a mechanical engineer father and a mother who is Italian royalty, Fabio was raised in Milan, Italy. He had already established himself as a top model and Mr. Europe before arriving in America.
During his first week in New York, he signed with Ford Modeling Agency and overnight – became their number one model. From there, an assignment to pose for a romance novel cover turned into over 1,000 assignments. Once readers became aware that their “fantasy” cover model was a real person, life changed drastically for Fabio, the super model. He became the face of the billion-dollar romance novel industry – an industry created, directed and controlled by women – for women. His opinion on what makes relationships work: equality and mutual respect.
In 2016 Fabio returned as spokesperson for the incredibly successful “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!” Campaign. He previously developed and launched his “Healthy Planet Nutrition” line of whey protein nutritional supplements that instantly became a best seller at Whole Foods Markets, Sprouts and other major retailers across the country. His series of online and TV spots for Old Spice in 2011, as part of the “New Old Spice Guy Fabio” campaign resulted in over 190 million views on the Internet & 68,000 new friends on Facebook and was the Number 1 Viral Video Campaign of the Year. His Super Bowl XL commercial for Nationwide Insurance was the most viewed commercial of the game. He helped Gillette launch its Oral-B Sensitive Advantage Toothbrush campaign.
In 2003, Fabio started his own signature line of women’s apparel at the Sam’s Club division of Wal-Mart with stores reporting increased sales by as much as 2,000%. Previously, he authored numerous romance novels, a fitness book, created a work-out video and served as a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. Fabio lost his sister to ovarian cancer at a young age.
An avid car and motorcyclist enthusiast, as well as a technology buff, Fabio’s passions were strongly evident in the weeks we worked with him. Dynamic and super-charged with goal-directed energy, this Human Stallion charmed the large group who encircled him. Friends arrived at his cover shoot to show their support – and the ensuing conversations were elevated with wit, quick repartee and a healthy dose of laughter. This is a man who has dived into life with the velocity of a titan.
Q: You were born and raised in Italy. Your childhood friend, Allesandra Gerini, with whom you went to school, describes you as a fiercely loyal and protective friend who stood up to schoolyard bullies and people whose actions were hypocritical. He says you were never afraid to confront people or situations where you felt a strong sense of injustice. Explain that.
FABIO: From a very young age I was always bothered by the concept of bullies. The idea that someone would enjoy picking on others, or that their life would improve by picking on others, seemed strange. The fact that bullies would always torment the smaller or weaker kids just seemed unfair. I was always bigger than other kids my age so I had no problem standing up to bullies and saying, “Okay, if you want to fight with someone, fight with me”. I got into a lot of fights. It was only later that I realized that the bullies were acting out because of their own insecurities. In fact, when I was living in NY, I ran into one of the bullies I beat up as a kid, and he apologized to me saying that he was only doing that because he was getting beaten up at home and didn’t know how to deal with it.
Q: You have a rich history. You were raised by solidly-—devoted parents. What are your best memories of that childhood?
FABIO: I am very blessed to have 2 amazing parents who gave us plenty of love and attention. More than anything else, they gave us their time. They were there for us and created a sense of protection so that we felt safe and free to grow and explore with a sense of confidence. Don’t get me wrong – there was also plenty of screaming, lectures and the occasional smack to the head – we are Italian after all.
Q: At age 13 you visited the United States with your dad. It made an indelible and immediate impression on you – so much so that you said to your dad, “I’m moving here when I’m 18”. What was it about this country that made such an impact on you?
FABIO: I was very fortunate as a child in that growing up in Italy, we always traveled every summer and I got the chance to see different cultures and different ways of thinking. I first came to America when I was 13 years old. I loved it! I felt right at home and comfortable because it’s such a melting pot with so many different influences and ideas.
Q: After working with a top photographer from Italy, you moved to New York at age 19. Your success was immediate. Ford Models signed you up and literally the next day, you jetted off to Hawaii for an 18-day shoot-having closed one of the biggest modeling campaigns in the USA. Describe that initiation and how you felt.
FABIO: It all happened so fast… Originally, I had moved to Seattle to attend University and model on the side. A friend passed my card to an agent at Ford Modeling Agency in New York who called me. Seeing as I was way more interested in partying than studying, a trip to New York sounded like fun. The agent at Ford signed me on the spot. They told me that they were sending me out that day for a casting even though the campaign had already been booked. I met a fashion photographer named Barry McKinley. He immediately called the client and insisted that they had to replace the 2 male models they had hired for the job, and use me as the only male model instead. The next day my agent called me to say I had gotten the job. The client was a new company called The Gap and the job was for a 20-day shoot in Hawaii with Kathy Ireland and Andie MacDowell. If there’s an exception for every rule, then I’m the exception for “Stay in School”.
Q: You and a core group of other models – took modeling to another level in the USA. You strongly believe that success is dependent on a strong philosophical approach to life. Describe what you believe lights the fire that creates success?
FABIO: Success comes in many forms but it comes down to not just what you believe, but how you believe. By that I mean that some people believe 50%, some 75%. I believe in the infinite. It’s a different mindset and a different way of seeing things. It helps you overcome obstacles and challenges. God is the foundation for everything and as they say it’s easier to swim with the tide than against it. Miracles happen but if you don’t believe that they can, then don’t be disappointed when they don’t. One way or another your expectation will come true.
I am very blessed to have 2 amazing parents who gave us plenty of love and attention. More than anything else, they gave us their time. They were there for us and created a sense of protection so that we felt safe and free to grow and explore with a sense of confidence.
Q: You became just about every woman’s fantasy of a man. Every time the publishers of romance novels placed you on the book’s front cover – sales soared. What do you believe are the key elements of successful romantic relationships?
FABIO: For me it’s all about balance. We are comprised of 3 elements: Body, Mind and Spirit. You need to have internal balance to then find someone who shares those same traits. Most importantly: 1) Don’t Settle. Have the patience to wait for the right one; but 2) Make sure to have fun along the way!
Q: You are realistically aware that men are different from women. They mature later in life and they are testosterone-driven. What advice would you give to women if they want to understand men better?
FABIO: Just because men and women should be treated and paid equally does not mean they are the same. We are different. Women are complex and multi- dimensional; men are simple. We appreciate simple things, like the kindness and tenderness that a woman can offer. A woman cooking a meal for a man can be as big a turn on as the sexiest pair of lingerie, though for me nothing tops the sight of a woman cooking a meal for me while wearing her sexiest lingerie!
Q: Your parents have been married for 65 years and you describe them as great role models – particularly in parenting. What is your opinion on family life and raising children?
FABIO: It really comes down to simplicity, commitment and creating a healthy environment for the family. I believe that a child needs 2 parents. While I’m not saying that a child needs a mother and father married and living in the same house, I do believe that a 2 parent dynamic is beneficial.
Q: You are keenly interested in the world, politics, world economics, and social issues. You prefer to live in the USA because it has taken a completely different path from Europe. Share some of your thoughts.
FABIO: My thoughts are simple: Rather than preaching a political philosophy, I just ask people to go by what they see. Western Europe, once the center of political power and cultural influence, has fallen into disarray. Socialism doesn’t work. It’s a disincentive. As a proud American who grew up in Europe, I say we should look at whatever Europe has done and do the opposite.
Q: You are a successful businessman. What are the ingredients behind that success?
FABIO: I only endorse products that I truly believe in – so I never have to feel conflicted about anything. People are smart. They can tell the difference between someone who truly believes in what they are saying versus someone who is just doing it for a paycheck. I also believe that more important than having the cheapest product on the market, is having the product that offers the best value. People know and appreciate quality.
Rather than preaching a political philosophy, I just ask people to go by what they see. Western Europe, once the center of political power and cultural influence, has fallen into disarray. Socialism doesn’t work. It’s a disincentive
Q: Your nutrition line “Healthy Planet” embodies your belief in nourishing our bodies healthfully and doing everything we can to give ourselves the best fighting chance against disease and aging. You produce quality products that are packed with powerfully good ingredients. What advice do you have for people who want to live long, healthy lives?
FABIO: Most importantly: Reduce Stress. Also, I created and formulated my own line of protein powder called Healthy Plant Nutrition (http://healthyplanetnutrition.com). Think of your body as a racing car; the better you take care of it, the better it performs. Just like higher-octane fuel gives better performance, better quality nutrition will make you feel better and live healthier. Our protein powder is derived from unpasteurized whey product, so it gives the nutrients that nature intended without being killed off by heat pasteurization or chemicals.
Q: You are passionate about cars and motorcycles. Speed and the adrenalin rush are all part of your makeup. What’s the insider story behind your cover Lamborghini and some of your favorite machines?
FABIO: I am a speed freak and passionate about my cars and motorcycles (I own over 300 bikes.) My father was a mechanical engineer so I grew up understanding technology and coming from Italy, appreciate design. I have a Lamborghini Aventador Superveloce and believe that the soul of a person can be seen in a beautiful design. We are really fortunate to be living in this age where the quality of the performance finally matches the quality of the design and that’s all thanks to technological innovations. It’s easy now to get high quality machines that can be used for every day driving. I also have a Corvette, Porsche and a Chevy Silverado pick up. Everybody should drive a pick up at some point in their life! I also love the look of the Ford Raptor & Ford GT. Los Angeles is such a car culture city and that is one of my favorite things about living here. I am fastidious about my cars and buy only from top-notch dealers like EuroCar OC and Ogara in Beverly Hills. I’ll gladly spend a few extra dollars to get my Porsche wrapped at Sticker City in Sherman Oaks rather than replace a piece for $15,000 or more. CEC wheels in Century City has the best wheels on the market and is the official dealer for Pirelli tires. It is the only place in town that has special machines for balancing the tires. L.A. really does have it all!
Q: You have a magnificent farm in Washington State. What is it about the place that you love?
FABIO: It is the greenest place I have ever seen. Nothing that man makes could ever match the beauty of God’s creation.
Q: You are strong supporter of the police. Explain.
FABIO: I am shocked that this has become such a controversial position. To me, it’s simple: 99% of all cops are good, dedicated people while 100% of the criminals are bad. While it’s important to protect the rights of all people, we shouldn’t do it by disparaging all cops. Police officers put their life on the line every day and pledge an oath to protect and serve. Don’t we have a duty to them also? This is an important issue that needs thoughtful discussion rather than simple slogans.
Q: You have 4 Rottweiler dogs. Why that choice in breed and what are some of the misunderstood aspects about Rotties?
FABIO: Rotties have a bad reputation. They are a great breed but require training and attention. And while they can be a little stubborn, they make great guard dogs. This breed was used over 2,000 years ago by the Roman army to guard their camps, so security is definitely in their bloodline. And unlike other breeds, they don’t bark much so it makes them even more effective.
Q: What are your hopes and wishes for the future of the USA?
FABIO: I have traveled all over the world and can assure you of one thing: There is no such concept as the European Dream or the Asian Dream. Yet, the American Dream is alive and well and admired by people all over the world. My hope is that we keep the American Dream alive for future generations so that they can enjoy the same rights and opportunities that we have.
Q: Favorite food delicacy?
Q: Favorite indulgences that make you really happy?
FABIO: A full body massage and making love with a beautiful woman.
Q: Best way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon?
FABIO: Same as my favorite indulgence: a full body massage and making love with a beautiful woman
Q: Favorite place in the world?
FABIO: America – there really is nowhere like it.
Q: Person whom you admire immensely?
FABIO: I admire God, not other people
Q: Best memory you have of an event in your life?
FABIO: I have been very blessed. It’s too hard to pick one.
Q: Characteristics that you most admire and respect in women?
FABIO: Intelligence, class, honesty, being upfront and having a great sense of humor.
Q: Plans for the next 5 years?
FABIO: To settle down with the right one and start a family!