Out of the frying pan, into attire

Essex teen swaps job in a chip shop for new life as Prada model

A teenager from Essex has swapped the drudgery of manning the deep-fat fryer at his local fish-and-chip shop for a life of international glamour as a model for Italian fashion house Prada.

When Alexander Beck, 17, of Thaxted, went on a shopping trip to Cambridge he had no idea that events that day would change his life in such a dramatic fashion. He was about to walk out of a bookshop with friends when a stranger shouted out to him: "Stop, I love your face."

The rather forward stranger was a modelling scout, Cesar Perin, who saw something in Beck that he knew would be perfect for the world of high fashion.

A month later, the AS-level student had thrown in the towel at his £6-an-hour job at the Ocean Delight fish-and-chip shop, and put on hold his studies in English, physics and critical thinking at Newport Free Grammar School in Saffron Walden. He posed for a series of portfolio photos, which were sent to international fashion houses. Mr Perin knew his instinct had paid off as labels clamoured to book the new face.

"For a first job, being booked exclusively is like a golden ticket. All the labels, including, Gucci, wanted to book Alex but Prada booked him exclusively," Mr Perin said.

From Milan, the Brazilian-born scout took his protégé to Paris, where he was picked up from the airport in a car sent by Dior. The teenager appeared on the French fashion house's catwalk as well as those of Yves St Laurent, Louis Vuitton, Lanvin, Raf Simons and Acne. Beck is a rugby player whose exotic-looking face, 6ft 2in frame and trim physique have earned him lucrative editorial work, too; he already has two photoshoots with Vogue Hommes Japan under his belt.

A model's life is something of a change for the low-maintenance teenager. He confessed: "I used to get up 15 minutes before my school bus would leave and didn't take time over my appearance. I never thought I was good enough to be a model."