In the past five years, the business of model management has faced a series of catalysts which in themselves demand change. Primary among these catalysts has been the radical re-positioning executed by a flank of Holllywood talent managers, agents and publicists in their attitude towards the fashion industry. There is no company in the modeling industry unaware that modeling talent is now competing with actors and musicians for advertising dollars. With that in mind, the recent launch of an audacious new division at Elite, titled Elite + caught the attention of OTM. First it was the board, ranging from Victoriaâ€™s Secret star Alessandra Ambrosio to the super-cool young actress Kate Nauta that sparked interest. Next it was a series of conversations with the architects of that board, Conor Kennedy and Richard Habberly that drove us to dig deeper. Is this kind of endeavor the future of modeling? Here is the point of view signaling from Elite + right this minute.
MDC: Why did you feel the added service of Elite + was necessary?
E+: In this competitive marketplace we felt it was time to add a management division to give the extra attention clients require at a certain point in their careers as well as pursue endorsements for our celebrity clients. Our goal is to provide the strong foundation of a modeling institution with the care and personal attention of a boutique. We offer the industry a variety of choices of incredible women: from Alessandra Ambrosio to Nelly Furtado to Monica Belluci to Emina Cunmulaj to Noemie Lenoir. For our personal evolution we both felt strongly about evolving our careers within the parameters of the Elite network.
MDC: How does Elite + function within the context of Elite in general?
E+: We are focused on full service for a handful of clients. We evaluate every career and create a management strategy that is suited to helping achieve the full potential of each client. Of course, when you start a modelâ€™s career there are many aesthetic and strategic decisions to be made. Our clients have graduated from that stage and are now looking to expand and evolve their careers. In addition to managing their day to day modeling, this encompasses all types of endeavors from matching a client up with an accent coach, acting lessons, reading scripts, buying and designing websites, interfacing with charity work and industry events and so on. We work hand in hand with Jackie Salem in our LA office since many of our clients work constantly on both coasts.
Our clients have extremely busy schedules so we refer many of our projects to other divisions inside the network. Additionally, we both are excited about some of the agencyâ€™s best new faces so we push them whenever possible!
MDC: Is this division only devoted to managing celebrities and celebrity models or are you looking to develop New Faces within this division?
E+: In general we are focused on the most established models and celebrities. However we are working with an incredible new Irish model, Kiera Gormley. Kiera is in this month’s British Vogue and has just shot the Burberry campaign with Mario Testino. We always have our eyes open for new stars!
MDC: Do you think there is any hope in your eyes for the return of the supermodel or has Hollywood managed to gain a long-term advantage on the fashion market?
E+: It will be an uphill battle as long as the majority of high fashion stars hail from non-English speaking countries and cultures. The cross over to mainstream spokesperson and cover star is a difficult one for these girls and it’s clear that many of the biggest advertisers have turned toward the stars of Hollywood. It’s incumbent on todayâ€™s models and their managers to create new career paths in order to reach those same heights of the early 1990’s. We are working to map innovative careers to raise our clients to another level both through fashion and Hollywood. Here is an update:
* Victoriaâ€™s Secret contract model Alessandra Ambrosio launched her line of swimwear with Rosa Cha in 2004 and is continuing to expand into other areas of licensing.
* Noemie Lenoir is shooting the female lead in Brett Ratner’s Rush Hour 3.
* Kate Nauta is currently filming a comedy with “the Rock.”
* Emina Cunmulaj has just shot campaigns for Bottega Veneta and Jean-Paul Gaultier.
* May Andersen is shooting an unscripted reality series based on her life.
* Kemp Muhl is balancing the demands of a Maybelline contract and directing short films.
MDC: Speaking of Elite overall, what is your future vision for the Elite brand?
E+: Elite is continuing to evolve in its fourth decade. In Eddie Trump, we are lucky to have an incredibly supportive owner and he truly wants to grow Elite across the world of fashion and celebrity.
MDC: Overall what do you think the idea of modeling means to Middle America, right this minute?
E+: It says something about the modeling industryâ€™s situation that the two cable reality series â€œAmericaâ€™s Next Top Modelï¿½? and â€œProject Runwayï¿½? represent our industry to Middle America. Bridging the gap between the runways of New York and mainstream America is the challenge in the years ahead.