In the canon of modeling industry clichés, if getting randomly discovered on the street is the first, being the offspring of a famous person is surely the second. But if you’re part of a legendary Hollywood family and were also randomly discovered on the street, then two clichés make for one very good story. Such is the case with Roberto Rossellini Jr., a New York-based model and photographer and the son of actress Isabella Rossellini.
“I was walking with my girlfriend in Soho,” Rossellini recalls, “and I had some lady come up to me, like, ‘Are you a model?’ and I said no, and she was like, ‘Do you want to be?’ My girlfriend and I didn’t know if it was real.”
The offer, courtesy of fashion journal L’Officiel Italia, was indeed very real. Not long after, 25-year-old Rossellini signed with Ford Models, and has since walked the runway for Michael Kors and Dolce & Gabbana and starred alongside his mother in a 2017 campaign for the upstart brand Sies Marjan. Upcoming projects include a Gap campaign and curating a selection of fine jewelry for Bulgari’s 50th anniversary celebration. “People are just now discovering that I’m my mom’s son, which is funny,” Rossellini says.
When he’s not in front of the camera—or tending to the family’s working farm on Long Island—Rossellini can be found behind one. A lifelong photographer, he mostly eschews the fashion world in favor of shooting up-and- coming rappers and hip-hop musicians (along with more established groups like Sad Boys and A$AP Mob) when they’re in New York to perform.
“I like showing a different side of people. Rappers seem like these hard guys, but I want to show them in a different element,” he explains. Eventually, he hopes to put together a book of the portraits. “I’m going to do it for free, though. I don’t want it to be something that I need to make money from.”
Rossellini is also launching a unisex clothing line, Control Plus, which features denim and streetwear plus small toys that look a bit like high-end robot action figures for adults. He realizes that his current status as a creative up-and-comer begs the question as to whether he’ll ever follow in his mother’s Hollywood footsteps. The answer is: maybe.
“It’s been on my mind a bit recently,” he admits. “A small part or a smaller role is something I’d definitely do. But a main role is still a little intimidating.”