Models pose naked in the calendar smashing stereotypes about ginger men

Models pose naked in the calendar smashing stereotypes about ginger men

Less than two per cent of the world’s population carry the mutated MC1R gene, which gives people fiery ginger hair.

Add blue eyes to the mix – many people with ginger hair also have this – and less than one per cent are born with the combination.

People with this colouring have often been ridiculed and the recipients of bullying, which is why photographer Thomas Knights and ArtF Director Elliott Frieze created Red Hot back in 2013 - a photography campaign to celebrate gingerness.

After two years of touring and exhibiting their work, the duo are releasing a 2016/2017 calendar Red Hot II.

We spoke to the photographers to find out more about the campaign:

What prompted you to start the campaign? (Red Hot and Red Hot II) Why the focus on people with ginger hair?


I'm a redhead and I grew up with the stigma of being ginger in the UK and the bullying that went with it.

Red Hot began in 2013 when I noticed that no one had ever portrayed the ginger man in a positive way - as Alpha male - heroic, sexual and confident. At this time Prince Harry was making news and Damien Lewis was finding success in Homeland so there was a slight public shift in thinking that we capitalised on. The project took off in a big way and gained worldwide press attention. I toured the world for two years with the Red Hot book and exhibition, and when that finished, about 1 year ago, it didn’t feel like the project was over, it felt like the start of something.


 Thomas and I met up in December of last year.  I had been working in Asia heading 5 Collections per season as Creative and Brand Director for multiple brands.  I was interested in looking into new projects and Thomas was looking to take Red Hot forward.  I have two young nieces and a nephew and remember what it was like myself in school and the effect that bullying has on children.


​​​​The focus of Red Hot was the ginger hair but we wanted to explore the beauty of pale skin and freckles of the redhead within Red Hot II. There are so many avenues that can be explored. For us we wanted to photograph the models with an emphasis on luxury and combining this essence with the Romano/Greek alabaster sculptures of the Louvre.

Red hair in men used to be a sign of power, masculinity and heroism (think Henry VIII, the Vikings, Thracians) but somewhere in the last 500 years this idea was lost, and in the 20th century with the dawn of cinema, and especially colour film, the redhead male was cast out as a hero, heart throb or leading man, and re-typed as the fool, nerd, or villain. One hundred years of this stereotype has brainwashed a modern culture into the place we are today.

Red Hot is our answer to this - it is in essence a re-branding campaign designed to smash the stereotype. 

The reactions to the campaign (and the calendar!) have been very enthusiastic…


I think it’s because of the models' stories next to their images at the exhibition. It's one thing to see a redhead model portrayed in a confident way, but when you read that they have struggled with who they are and often been really badly bullied, you feel nothing but empathy towards them, and ultimately we all have something we can relate to in that story.


Bullying still goes on today and this is why we connected again with the Diana Award with Red Hot II. Thomas had already worked close with them with Red Hot 100. The work that they do is incredible. It is our responsibility to raise as much funds as possible so that we can contribute financially to their work and in turn allowing them to both educate and train children in schools throughout the UK as anti-bullying ambassadors.

Many of our models have endured multiple forms of bulling in their lives and some significantly more severe than others. No child in school or adult in the work place should ever have to put up with this behaviour. It's only by unity that we can make a difference. From the emails and conversations that we have had with the models of the book and exhibition the main reaction has been gratefulness in photographing a high concentration of redhead models in a beautiful and positive light.


The Red Hot II Global Launch for the book and exhibition took place at the Rotterdam show last month and we now plan to tour the exhibition globally over the next 12 months.

We will be launching in the UK at the Devonshire Club on the 14th of October with an exhibition to follow before Christmas.

What are some of the stereotypes about ginger men?

Red Hair in women has long been associated with sex, danger and mystery, over the years this has grown into a stereotype and is now a go-to signifier for many directors and photographers. In terms of pure visual, red hair set against pale skin has such stark contrast. Ultimately, its different… and as it is more rarely seen, it is often feared and marred with danger and temptation in equal measure. This has been going on for centuries.

Thomas Knights (left) and Elliott Frieze (right)

You can purchase the calender, underwear, and other Red Hot merchandise here. All proceeds go towards the Diana Award.

All photos courtesy of Thomas Knights and Elliott Frieze

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