The film Zoolander is one of the best comedic gifts Hollywood has ever offered up, but for years it has caused the world's male models constant headaches.

Ben Stiller's portrayal of the beautiful-yet-clueless model who can do little else other than be "really, really, ridiculously good looking", is a stereotype American model Garrett Neff says he has to fight constantly, reports

"I really hate the label of being a model. I've always shied away from saying that I'm a model," Neff, 33, told, during an interview to promote the debut of his swimwear collection, Katama, at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Sydney.

"I started modelling about two years after Zoolander came out. I had to hide [my job title], otherwise I was going to be the butt of every joke," Neff said.


"Even though I knew my experience was different from the way they portrayed it in the movie, you're such an easy target. People had sort of forgotten about it but then Zoolander 2 came out and ruined it all again," he joked.

"I think the problem is that although models have all these other things to offer [aside from their looks] they don't need to and so you can get lazy. I know a lot of people do and that ruins it for everybody else."

Garrett Neff poses ahead of the Katama by Garrett Neff show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Photo / Getty
Garrett Neff poses ahead of the Katama by Garrett Neff show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Photo / Getty

The New York-based model has fronted campaigns for Calvin Klein, Chanel and Hugo Boss and been photographed by Vogue favourites Bruce Weber and Steven Meisel. He was scouted in an airport at age 21 and immediately signed with an agency.

"Within a few months of moving to New York I shot this fragrance campaign for Calvin Klein," Neff said.

"That was an important springboard. It's lucrative, it's a client that's edgy, but also commercial and I worked for them for a few years."

Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld booked Neff not long afterwards and flew the then-23-year-old to Paris, where he stayed in the Chanel mansion.

"[Lagerfeld] had the top floor, there was a gym. He's super generous ... his chef would wake up in the morning and prepare whatever I wanted, I just had to write it down," he said.

"Then I'd go for a run in Paris. It was really surreal. But I think it would have been more surreal if I had known who he was, because I was so unaware of fashion.

Garrett Neff attends the Pirelli Calendar 50th Anniversary Red Carpet. Photo / Getty
Garrett Neff attends the Pirelli Calendar 50th Anniversary Red Carpet. Photo / Getty

"He was cleaning out the Chanel mansion and he had been gifted so many things over the years.

"He gave me this leather Goyard suitcase which I'm sure is super-expensive. It was gifted to him and in it he gave me tuxedos, Chanel dress shoes, a Dior tuxedo and suits and one of these high collars like he wears."

Neff exercises "five or six" times a week, sometimes up to two hours a session, and steers clear of processed foods.

"I think variety is really important. I mainly eat fresh foods, chicken and grilled fish," he said.

"I eat a lot of Greek yoghurt. Eggs are a really important good source of protein, and I take some vitamin supplements.

"With modelling you're travelling constantly, you're in airports all the time, you're at the hotel.


"There's all these temptations to eat bad food because it's all that's around, so I try curb that a little bit."

He has been dating fashion executive Lauren Gaudette since 2013 and says his work requirements don't interfere with his relationship.

While some might be jealous of their partner spending their workdays draped over six-foot supermodels, Neff says Gaudette is supportive of his profession.

"She has a lot of friends in the entertainment industry and we started our relationship after I'd already started modelling, so she already knew about it," he said.

"Occasionally it comes up, but me taking jobs when I should be on vacation is more of an issue for me.

"If I was skipping some plans that we had in order to take a job, and on top of that I was with another girl, I'm sure that would bother her, but she's very mature. In my other relationships where that wasn't the case, they didn't work out."