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If you scroll through the top posts on Instagram with the hashtag #mensfashion or #malemodel, chances are you’ll be double-tapping many a photo of Brazilian-born Ricardo Baldin.

Baldin, 28, is one of the male modeling world’s biggest rising stars, having travelled the globe to walk runways for designers like Vivienne Westwood, Bottega Veneta, and Giorgio Armani. He’s also shot campaigns for mega-brands such as Tom Ford and Levi’s. When he’s not being really, really ridiculously good looking for a living, he’s working with organizations such as Mercy For Animals and Easter Seals, proving that behind those chiseled pecks and six-pack abs lies a heart of gold.

We caught up with Ricardo between trips at his home in Los Angeles to talk about candid moments with Giorgio Armani, his days as a champion poker player, and why there’s no better place than Rio de Janeiro.

Next trip? Sao Paulo, my hometown! I’m actually moving back home for a few months to refocus on my presence in Brazil. It’s a new beginning for me and my work as a model. Also, I’m taking a trip to Bahia in two weeks to celebrate a special birthday. In my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the country.

Favourite destination? My favourite place in the world is Rio de Janeiro. I love a big city where there’s always something happening, even if it’s a Tuesday. At the same time, the city has plenty of nature, including forests, mountains and the ocean. That’s what I’m looking for most when I travel – I try to spend as much time outside as I can.

Your ideal hotel has… A pool and a gym with plenty of equipment. I’m a very active person, and when I’m travelling it can be hard to maintain my routine. Having a good fitness area is a must. Also, I like when a hotel has a nice, quiet garden where you can just sit, meditate and enjoy the silence.

The first thing you do after checking into a hotel is… I throw my bags on the floor and make the room a comfortable mess. I’m a mess wherever I stay. I can be in my hotel room for 15 minutes and it looks like I’ve lived there for two weeks.

Any secret talents? For a few years I was a very serious poker player. I had a coach, played in tournaments and would participate in forums. As a model, you have a lot of free time, so I played a lot online in between projects. I’ve played in Vegas, Monte Carlo and Macau.

Favourite designer? Giorgio Armani. I did two shows for him in Milan and got to work with him personally, which was a big achievement for me. He’s such a character. I also appreciate how involved he is, which isn’t necessarily the case for all designers. He was there at both my casting and fitting. Plus, he was there making final adjustments before we hit the runway… and he even complimented my eyebrows to boot.

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