DNA has staked a reputation as one of the most meticulous and elegant agencies in the modeling business. Stocked with some of the industry's most beloved beauties (Trish Goff, Kirsty Hume, Audrey Marnay, Naomi Campbell) DNA projects an image of calm, collected chic, which is what makes it such a magnet for young models looking for longevity, stability and a formidable income. Owner David Bonnouvrier caught up with MODELS.com's Wayne Sterling to articulate the mind-set behind DNA's impeccable sheen.
WS: You are a veteran of the modeling industry and quite highly respected. Could I ask you to please paraphrase your background.
DB: Academically, I started with the best teacher : Odile Sarron the model editor of Elle , at a time when Bill King was shooting for the magazine with models like Ashley Richardson, Christy Turlington and Naomi at her beginning. Odile Sarron taught me pretty much all the criteria you must look for in a model.
WS: The past four months has seen a lot of dramatic activity around DNA. It's been attracting a heavy volume of stunning models both knew and known: from Noot to Naomi. What's the lure?
DB: Maybe a little hype which is, as we know, always dangerous in this business
WS: DNA has a very interesting structure. It's larger than a boutique but smaller than a "supermarket" yet manages to maintain an image of edge. What is your reasoning behind that strategy.
DB: Well hopefully it is to answer, what we feel, is a really big need. Small agencies were always known for better management skills than larger agencies but also for a weaker business structure, which almost always backfired in the end. We want to provide to our models, a very tight and personal management but also a very strong business background. When we started DNA, we went into partnership with our CFO who was previously working with publicly traded companies. We can combine financial and management expertise, which when models reach a certain level of income, becomes a very important issue.
WS: This relates then to the recent shakeout in boutique agencies. All of a sudden a lot of model agencies who built a reputation by having a "one season editorial star" while shunning commercial or catalog work seem to be having a rough time of it. What do you think happened?
DB: On a business level, you can not survive with only that one "girl of the moment". Recent trends have made it impossible, in the first place, for a lot of this girls to survive more than one season. The issue really is that the gap between hardcore fashion editorial and mass marketed products became too big , resulting in a curious phenomena: a model featured in some of the best magazines in the world who could not generate a penny for their career, while another one who did less editorial was making a fortune. Ten years ago these girls were one and the same. Model agencies got confused for a while.
WS: Fashion is an industry of a thousand shifting trends. What do you see on the horizon in terms of "the next big look".
DB: I think that the fashion industry felt threatened by the fact that models had become such important superstars , sometimes more important than the clients for who these superstars were working for. It was time for a change and it came from England. Ironically the icon of this fashion counterculture ended up with the tag " supermodel" So to answer the question, the idea is, back to the basics but with a little twist. The road is already paved by Gisele and her peers. There are still the models that had, and still have an impact on a larger scale than just the fashion industry. Amber could come back on any given day. Naomi is a brand name, and Cindy still gets the highest pay checks.