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by Wayne Sterling

In 1985 when Austrian born Heinz Holba made the then daring decision to base his modeling headquarters in Los Angeles, his prescient vision was to make the West Coast an important player in the international modeling community.
And interestingly enough, at the time of this interview, (right on the heels of the fashion frenzy of the Oscars) several of the critical Fall 2001 campaigns (specifically Gucci, YSL, Versace, and Versus) were being lensed in LA, an occurence that places Holba, founder of LA Models, LA Talent, and New York Models, in a pivotal position in the fashion industry. More than any other modeling impresario right this minute, Heinz is beautifully positioned to exploit the increasing power of LA as a major American fashion base.
With his New York wing, NY Models, firing at full cylinder with a radical board that has essentially redefined the borders of the model ideal, Heinz's empire is poised to be one of the most powerful in the Zeroes. Here he sits down with's Wayne Sterling to outline the logic behind his aesthetic and his vision for the future.
Q: Could you please tell us how you became involved in the modeling industry?
I became involved by buying an existing agency in Vancouver, Canada called Booking One as part of a real estate investment in 1978. Subsequently, I bought the franchise rights to Elite/John Casablancas Modeling Schools and Agencies for Canada in 1979. Elite was then the largest agency at that time with head offices in New York. I then opened ten agencies and schools in Canada and California as franchises, found some top working models, and worked closely with Elite New York and Elite Paris. I began selling off those franchises in 1985 when I opened LA Models, because by this time I preferred to be independent as opposed to being a franchise.


Q: You are in a unique position in that you have NY Models and LA Models serving as bi-coastal powerhouses. What are the benefits of this positioning to a model?
The benefits are to be able to expose a model to top clients like the key photographers and casting directors around the country simultaneously. It's about being in close contact with Europe through New York and with Hollywood through Los Angeles. We're able to send new models on TV commercial auditions as well as print and to submit them to clients on both coasts. We feel like it gives our models an edge over other beginners as well as established models.

Q: What would you describe as NY Model's key aesthetic?
I think it's unusual, very editorial looks that clients are always looking for in the never ending quest to be the first to find and use someone new and trendsetting. We try to create that excitement of discovery when we offer new models to clients.

Q: Is this similar or different for LA Models?
LA Models has the same philosophy and ideas as New York Models but in addition we are capable of catering to the requirements of commercial casting directors and advertising and catalogue clients casting and shooting on the West Coast.


Q: What advantages or benefits would you say the LA market offers that the NY market does not?
Well following on my earlier thought, the LA market obviously offers more commercial and film work which gives a new model additional experience and additional opportunities to further their careers. The earning potential is also obviously also much higher in film than in print.

Q: Your agencies are known for their revolutionary views on what a model should look like. What inspired you to take this path?
We simply wanted to be different from other agencies and offer more choices and ideas to clients as well as possibilities for models that do not exist in the larger, more traditional and commercial agencies.