“I’m not a model. If I’m going to be photographed, it’s always as I am: a bullfighter.”

Behold the Spanish bullfighter José María Manzanares. Watch as he rises to international fame for his fearless and handsome pursuit of sporting glory. See the way he wears custom Dolce & Gabbana suits as naturally as a matador’s cape. Then think to yourself, as we do: Man, Cristiano Ronaldo must f#€king hate this guy.



For Americans, the most surprising thing about José María Manzanares is the very fact of his existence – that a Spanish person who looks like that is also a real live trained-and-true bullfighter. That is, that he doesn’t just play one in fashion magazines. Considering his billboard-ready face and the comfort he evidently feels being photographed in high-end polka-dot pajamas, you’d imagine the opportunity to be famous without risking one’s life on a regular basis would come as a welcome alternative. But that would be overly dismissive of the lifelong commitment he’s made to the craft – and the fact that his reputation still rides more on his exploits in the ring than on his looks.

The son of a prominent matador, the 33-year-old Spaniard had been headed to veterinary school when he decided he’d prefer a cape-twirling, pink-sock-wearing, gnarly-scar-collecting life. Though he knows he won’t win over the PETA crowd, Manzanares is committed to spreading the gospel – exposure if not outright

conversion: “It’s important for bullfighting to be better understood for what it really is, not what people think it is.” By which he means the rich tradition, the artistry, the toreros’ reverence for the animals. “I’m hoping that, little by little, people will learn more about what a bullfighter is, what his life is like, what he represents, the values he upholds.” Each year, Manzanares spends seven months on the European circuit, then heads to the Americas to make the rounds there. In winter, he lives with his team to train for the coming season.

(“You need to be in the right headspace for all those afternoons of hard work, risking your life in many cases – actually, always.”) And though he’s unwilling to give up the death scares outright now that he’s become his sport’s most public face in fashion – he was tapped by Dolce & Gabbana for their spring campaign – he’s grown comfortable in the overlap. “Fashion has a lot in common with bullfighting, with what all artists have in common. You’re just trying to express what you feel.”

Still, though he may convince himself that they’re occasionally one and the same, Manzanares isn’t willing to cross over in full. “I’m not a model. If I’m going to be photographed, it’s always as I am: a bullfighter.” – GILLIAN BRASSIL