Scott Lipps

The Karin modeling agency, a giant in Paris has emerged as a major editorial force in the last year generating a shrewd new model ideal: edgy girls who are still within the classical ideal of beauty. As such, their board has captivated the critical cross-section of ground breaking magazines and photographers, generating such New School success stories as Jenny Vatheur (repeating on the Miu-Miu campaign), Kristina T, Caroline B, Liliana and Nathalie Cox. Central to this redefinition has been the focus brought by Karin President Scott Lipps whose dedication to pairing his models with those taste-making photographers of the moment have paid off handsomely. Tune in as Mr. Lipps sits down with MODELS.com.

 

Scott, as a framework, could you provide us with a little background on Karin?

Karin has been open for 24 years in Paris and 5 years in New York. I joined the Karin team two years ago in order to bring it into the year 2000. I, along with a great staff, hopefully have brought a fresh look and a new perspective to things. My music background gives me a different outlook on the world of fashion, along with a different style of management that brings a freshness to the industry.
In running an agency, you must be current, know what's hip, and what's happening, as well as have a strong sense of management and direction. We have revamped the image of the agency and have discovered some great new faces that have gone on to do campaigns such as Versace. Miu-Miu, Prada, Jil Sander, Ralph Lauren among others.

 

 

And how does a music industry player end up working in the modeling industry?

Ultimately music and fashion are very similar. The two industries have so many parallels between them. The designers want the rock stars to wear the clothes and I constantly worked with photographers when I was involved in the music industry. I came from the business and performance side of music where I worked at management companies and record companies in addition to performing. So I can assure you, managing bands and managing models draw a lot of comparisons. Plus I've always loved fashion. It was inspiring for me to segue to an industry where you can help change somebody's life to the extent of taking a girl from a small town and making her into a supermodel.

 

What would you say that Karin offers as an agency that is unique and compelling?

What makes Karin different is our management strategy. Providing a strategic game plan for the girls that includes full scale  management and future management really appeals to me. In order to take girls to the next level you have to be careful about which photographers they work with. It is a careful process of placing girls with the correct clients and photographers for them and their careers.
We are working for long lasting careers which means being careful not to overexpose girls and burn them out after one season. A slow rising career is better for longevity than a girl who has one good season and disappears. I've always liked the kind of models who are timeless and transcend the trends from one season to the next... the Carolyn Murphys, the Amber Valettas... I hope that we are helping to create these types of girls.

 

Well you have developed those deep relationships with the power players in fashion photography but now that you've done that, what's the end game for Karin as an agency?

I think that boutique agencies are here to stay and are more in tune to provide proper management. It isn't about 300 girls anymore. I'm not interested in representing that many girls at once. The days of throwing hundreds of models up against a wall and seeing what sticks is over. The models need the kind of individual direction and attention that a manager would give an actor.
I see girls in 2001 heading more into film and movie careers. That's the road to longevity ultimately. Models are getting into film careers because they see that the possibilities for them there are endless. We try to incorporate these ideas into our management plan. We help to manage careers in conjunction with acting agents. If the girl shows an interest in acting we can structure her modeling career to coincide with this.

 

Which is where those old West Coast connections come in right?

Exactly, as part of my job, it is important to be well-educated (and connected) to the TV and film aspect of the business. The timing couldn't be better now for models to enter the acting world... The acting community is extremely interested in beautiful models who can actually act. Presently, a few of our models like Emma Heming and Nathalie Cox are exploring the vast possibilities in the film and TV area.

 

How do you see technology changing the fashion industry?

I believe that in the next two years, the physical portfolio and comp card will be a thing of the past. Already, because of the Internet, our clients can view books and even book girls online. This saves the girls a lot of money be eliminating expenses like messengers, Fed Ex, printing cards, copying books, etc. We use a service where our clients can download every portfolio within seconds. This helps a lot when working with our European clients and agencies. Who knows, eventually we might even computerize the models... and then eventually agents... (just kidding).

 

But then there wouldn't be the human drama of missed flights and multiple bookings and bad hair days now would there?

Sometimes those dramas can be quite stressful but at the end of the day you always need to take a deep breath, sit back, and remember "it's only fashion"... I love it but I think that this puts things into perspective for me...

 

What are the chances of a girl walking into the agency off the street or simply posting her picture on MODELS.com and having you pick her up?

The chances are as good as any of our other sources. I am always looking for new talent everywhere. I look for one or two girls new girls a month to develop. I do look at web-sites, including MODELS.com and scout in many different ways. There have even been girls who came in through an open call that have gone on to do major campaigns.

Part 2: Scott Lipps discusses model trends, the strategies behind building a model, how day rates are set and the future of his agency.