are so many tall stories and myths around you Mr.Rowland. Care to
give the MDC community your official history?
Actually everything I've learned to be as an agent, I owe to Nadia
Shahrik. When Click was really big in the 80's and everybody wanted
to be with Click, Nadia was there in charge of the men's division.
Nadia left and went on her own and that's when I met her and she
took me on as a model. We were working out of her apartment, then
it finally grew to an agency. I wasn't making much money being a
male model. So she went to Europe one season and didn't have a booker
to fill in so I said "You know what. I'll do it. I'll answer
the phones until you get back." So I did that and I liked it
and honestly, I was thinking, " I can do this. I'll save enough
money, buy a house then stop when I'm forty and paint!" That
was my whole idea. And that's how it started. One thing led to another.
I just decided, "Look, if I'm going to put this much time and
energy into something this, I've got to put it where there's the
money". And girls are the ones that make the money. So I told
Nadia I wanted to open a women's agency. She said "OK, there's
a room there. Why don't you set up a desk and you can start."
Sarah Doukas from Storm was the very first person to help me and
she gave me a few girls. The girl who really helped me was Michelle
Kwon who owns Me and Ro, the jewelry company. She was my very first
model. We were friends, we lived in the East Village. She was a
waitress at Indochine and I said "Michelle, you're so pretty.
C'mon I need a model." And she started doing it. She was on
the cover of Elle. She was on the cover of Italian Vogue. And that's
how it all started in '88.
In those early days did you have it in the back of your
mind to evolve Women into this global empire?
The way my life works is things just come. I can never tell you
what tomorrow is. I keep everything open. I keep everything moving
and fluid. The thing that works for me is I'm not afraid to attempt
it. And I don't care what people have to say.
Paul Rowland, the visionary force behind Women
Speaking of which, a lot of skeptics had their eyebrows
arched when the idea of Women Worldwide was proposed.
From the beginning when I opened my doors there were a lot of critics
who said, this will never work. Period. And the amazing thing about
that is if you have a vision and you're willing to work for it,
you can make that thing happen. Now that we have Women Milan and
Women Paris, the concept is still very much based on Women New York.
This is in terms of the taste point, the quality of girls, the aesthetic.
Let's take, for instance, Women Paris. They are not going to represent
over thirty girls. The most important thing is to keep the credibility
of the agency as a high-end proposal. Milan...Milan is much different.
We have a lot of girls who go there for the shows. But really, I
never thought it would happen to this extreme in a million years.
I was ok with the idea of Women NY, as this selective little agency...
For me it reminded me of that Halston story where he had this amazing
career, then he sold his licenses to all these people and he lost
control of his own name. So for me, that was the most important
thing, the quality control. That's the one thing that has remained
intact. The people we work with are the people who we can trust
to take the name and maintain the quality. In terms of the graphics,
in terms of the cards, in terms of all the concepts of Women, it
all stems from what we do in New York.
Is Milan and Paris being staffed by personnel out of New
York, or did you recruit new staffing?
In Paris, Eric DuBois who used to be the head booker at City came
with Patricia. They had been a team before and they basically run
Women in Paris together. My whole idea for Milan is to focus on
the two show seasons a year.
Interesting. You're not targeting Milan as an advertising
Depending on the campaign ...Fendi will always book out of Milan.
But Dolce, Versace and Valentino book out of New York through Steven.
Gucci is out of New York. So for Milan my whole concept is to create
an amazing show agency. In the 80's Ricardo Guy had an agency called
Stage and there were even girls from other agencies, but it was
THE really hot show agency. It was basically all the big girls.
The girl got the best rate, it was strictly about booking them for
the best shows. None of these girls were going there to do editorial,
they were going to make money.