Billed as a full-serviceÂ talent management and fashion consulting firm founded by Bruno Jamagne and Federico Denti in 2008, WM is a primary example of key players in the modeling industry attempting to rethink and innovate the very idea ofÂ model management. As such WM positions itself as a multiple-service proposition byÂ combining a model management department and a consulting bureau offering celebrity-focused services and brand management facilities. Most interesting of all is the ultimate thrust of the company which isÂ aimed at “becoming the unique and inevitable link between fashion and entertainment.”
Even thenÂ much of the early industryÂ buzz on WM has been through its ability to break new girls onto the Paris marketÂ via exclusive runway engagements like the oneÂ scored byÂ Johanna for Balenciaga FW 09 and Elena Ivanova for the Givenchy SS10 show.Â With visibility like that, WMÂ was bound toÂ draw a circle of potential alliances around its emerging girls but it was the full spectrum of the company’s service (and its idea of 360Â° service) that prompted OTM to conduct this dialogue with Mr Jamagne. This is his perspective.
You come from a background of classic management at IMG and Women in Paris, yet WM is a very new and radical idea for an agency. What led you to take this new direction?
It was actually a combination of feelings, facts and encounters. The fashion industry has taken a new direction in the past few years and therefore there are opportunities for new ways of doing business.
Federico Denti and I have worked together at “Women Paris” for 4 years, and eventually we started exchanging our ideas, our experiences (FD in trading and marketing, for myself extensive experience in corporate network ). We felt that the constant development of new marketing technology and the enormous amount and flux of information fed to people every minute of the day through new medias makes the old clichÃ©s of modeling management (making top modelsâ€“ getting big contracts) outdated. Now, time is of the essence and people want professionalism and efficiency rather than being fabulous and late. It led us to the conclusion that combining the talent management with the celebrity services and brand management was the right thing to do.
From shepherding Katy Perry around Paris Fashion Week, to buildingÂ a creative designer like Raphael Young indicates WM is dedicated to covering multiple bases. How does this help the girl in the end?
At end of the day, what really matters is covering all the bases and â€œconnecting the dots”. The key people you are dealing with in the business are well known, therefore if negotiating a front row for a celebrity topped with an interview with the designerÂ or arranging a story for a journalist writing for a trendy magazine about a young shoe designer you discovered and built… IfÂ thatÂ doesn’t add to the value of your opinion in the fashion industry,Â then what would? Working with celebrities or young talent can only help the girls more, because it will open doors to all the other services we provide, it takes us to one of our main goal that is reducing all the different contacts the clients usually deals with and leading them to just one: WM.
How deep will the celebrity factor cut into the high fashion culture of Paris in your opinion?
A couple years ago you could actually build a model’s career season after season, on raising her image and towards ultimately getting her the biggest contracts with clients such as LancÃ´me, EstÃ©e Lauder, Lâ€™Oreal… Nowadays the modeling fashion industry is known as the Â«Kleenex periodÂ» where a model doing 30 shows one season will be history the next because she didn’t get an A-list campaign. Therefore, besides the Claudias, Kates, Giseles and Naomis (most of them in their 30â€™s-40’s) the top models are not really recognized by any other industry besides fashion. Which explains why today fragrances, fashion campaigns, cosmetic endorsements (pending the budget of course) will choose actresses, singers, sport champions or even politicalÂ figures as their campaign ambassadors.
It is then obvious to realize how important the need to be connected to this industry is as we do believe that this concept will grow more and more in the years to come.
Could you talk a little bit about the business structure of WM? And the relationship with Success?
The quality of work is based on the business structure which leads us to the idea ofÂ 360Â° services.
WM has two branches… one is the classical model management where we have sales agents proactively working on clients and managing models. The other one is the Fashion Consulting where sales agents offer different services such as branding, product placement, licensing and endorsements.
We also have a department of highly qualified graphic designers that work daily on web-based publicity, through internet channels of our newsletter, Facebook, blogs, etc.
This 360Â° service reduces your costs (cost for the client), minimizes your contacts, and gives as a conclusion a better and faster quality of service.
With Success being one of the most renowned male and children’s agency in Europe, our collaboration with them allows us to offer to our clients a full offer on models, which leads us once again to that idea of our 360Â° services.
Elena Ivonova/Â WM Model Management at Givenchy SS10 Image via style.com
Switching to the New York market… how relevant is that to WM?
The New York market being the strongest in the fashion industry is of course very important to us.
We have met quite a lot of people there and I am happy to say that most of them like our philosophy and the fact that it is necessary nowadays to think outside the box.
Nevertheless even though we are very dynamic, our organization is still very young… therefore our immediate need is to focus on the European market.
We are looking at the American market with great interest, mainly seeking joint venture opportunities and collaborations with local and well established companies.
That said, who are some of the key WM faces we should watch for this season?
We are very excited that Elena Ivanova will do her first New York fashion week (she was exclusive with Givenchy last season).Â Another of our new faces is Yuliana Dementyeva, who will do mostly an exclusive for a prestigious fashion designer. And our French girl,Â Camille Rowe, even though she is not the typical catwalk type, she has already one fragrance (Esprit) under the belt and is getting a lot of interest from the blue chip clients.
So three years from now where do you see yourself and the company?
In a perfect world retired and wealthy ! :-) More seriously we intend to extend the geographical spectrum of our activities and promote our vision to all the potential customers in fashion industry. On more present news we are launching a exclusive online model contestÂ called â€œIncoming Cometsâ€œ searching for our typical beauty ideal which is â€œintemporal beauty â€œ.
We are also involved in the launching of a collection called â€œModels Rockâ€œ designed by Vito Dell’Erba (former Miu Miu, Costume National and Givenchy designer) which matches our view of true street fashion and will give us a new prospect about the industry.
Well it is very exciting to see new ways of thinkingÂ being explored. Thanks so much for giving us your perspective Bruno.
Always my pleasure!
The WM Family and their pristine new offices.
(See our previous article: The Future of Management Part 1)