Quick! Name three supermodels. Claudia Schiffer, Elle Macpherson, and Kate Moss easily come to mind. Now try naming three male supermodels. Not quite the same catwalk. Which may explain why the fashion world has been turning to male actors to promote their menswear lines. Among the masculebs now striking poses: John Malkovich has been modeling for Prada; Mel Brooks is featured in magazine spreads for Neiman Marcus; Dennis Hopper recently hit the runway for designer Hugo Boss; The X-Files' David Duchovny is the sole model for Saks Fifth Avenue's fall designer catalog; and Melrose Place's Jack Wagner made the cover of Saks' fall sportswear catalog (the inside pages offer Kadeem Hardison, Jerry Lewis, and Fisher Stevens, among others).
The appeal of actors over models, says Sheri Wilson-Gray, Saks' senior vice president of marketing, is that recognizable men create a buzz: ''With celebrities, people linger longer with the catalog and pass it along.'' Another plus: Actors look more like regular folk. A male consumer can ''look at an actor and say, 'I relate to him,''' says Tom Julian, trend analyst for the Fallon McElligott advertising agency, ''whereas he may look at a model and say, 'I'm not some 18-year-old who poses for pretty pictures.'''
What's the draw for the celebs? Hardison says it's not his love for the camera but the pay that made him do it. ''For catalog rates they could have put me in anything short of a G- string,'' says the Vampire in Brooklyn costar. (According to sources, the typical rate for celebrity models is between $1,000 and $5,000 per day, though some have earned as much as $10,000.) For Wagner, it was just the novelty. ''I thought it could be interesting and kind of cool,'' he says. But unlike the supergirls angling for acting careers, the famous men say they'll stick with their chosen profession. ''Walk the runways?'' mulls Wagner. ''I think I'd be better mopping them up afterwards.''