Modelling in Milan
Joy Models has, for years, been one of the most respected agencies in the fashion capital of Milan. For Canadian managers looking to launch models internationally, Joy has consistently been one of the agencies at the top of the contact list.
Recently Joy's Paul Kopp, who counts two decades of industry experience, made a five city swing through Canada to find new faces to put in front of his Italian client base.
Modelresource sat down with him in Toronto.
MODELRESOURCE: Now that Milano has put restrictions on skinny models, does that change what you look for in your scouting?
PAUL KOPP: No. Extremely skinny models can't work because they can't fit the clothes. No stylist would take an extremely skinny girl. That has always been true.
MR: What is the Milano market looking for right now?
PK: Beauty is coming back. I'm an agent that has been in the business for 20 years, and I've seen the funky, trendy looking girls, and the girls with the strange noses. If you try to hire those now you would go bankrupt. Beauty is back.
In Milano, before you had the either the editorial looking girl, or you had the catalogue girl. Now the same girl does both, editorial and commercial work.
MR: Milano is known as a great market for new faces. How much experience are you looking for when you're scouting?
PK: We can take girls just off snapshots, but obviously they will do better if they have pictures. We recently had one girl that came with just two snapshots and she started working right away. But there are girls too, that have great books but take time before they start working. You can't predict in this business.
MR: This is the first time you've been to Canada in years. Why now?
PK: I was the first agent in Russia, and I've travelled through all the ex-republic states like Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and they have beautiful looks in the Baltic states, and I was just in Brazil. The Canadians - and we've represented many Canadian girls - I find they're serious. They've very professional, and motivated. It's not universal, but I find Russian girls have a sadness inside of them, and don't have enthusiasm. The Brazilians almost have too much enthusiasm. Canadians are more reliable.
I find the families and the agents in Canada are all very nice. They stress that they don't want the girls going out, and they want everything to be clean and safe. A lot of agents don't do that, but I appreciate that.
Our agency, we've never had a problem of a serious nature, but we just had a beautiful Brazilian girl that another agency in Milano wanted, but we got her, and we just found out she has been going out to the clubs. Her mother agency is saying "Paul it's not true," but I'm telling them because I care.
After just one week we are sending her home and we lost a lot of money. We paid her plane ticket... we spent $5,000, but we're getting her out because that girl is trouble. She's going to make trouble.
Whose fault is it? The mother agency didn't know her so well and we lost money, but I would prefer to lose money and show the mother agency that we are professional. We have young girls in Milano, it can be dangerous.
MR: How do you feel about parents travelling with the models?
PK: I like the idea that family will come over to see where the models are. I mean, I would do that, but the mother can't babysit the girl, and we can't babysit the girl.
Everyone asks me what makes the best model. I'll say, show me the family. Models with good families and have the best education, and they have their feet on the ground. People say top models are stupid. That's nonsense. You can't be stupid and be successful.
If the daughter can become a model, the parents need to have confidence that it's the right time to send her over.
The family can go if they can afford it, but it's double the expense.
MR: What if the model is under 16?
PK: I don't want to have a model under 16 without a family member. We don't want that responsibility. But if they are 16, they're okay.
MR: What do you want models to know before travelling to Milan?
PK: Be prepared. Check out Milano, transportation. Be more informed.
Another thing, I'm really tired of saying, but 99% of the time when a model comes to Milano I tell them: "Communication, communication, communication. Talk, talk, talk." Nobody talks. I tell the models, if you're going to Armani, and you don't know Armani, how will you be dressed? You might meet him personally. Know how to ask your agent how to be dressed. People like it, and it takes nothing. Asking, asking... be informed. I stress it, and probably 0.1% actually do it.
MR: Do you find models are intimidated coming to Milano?
PK: I don't really think of it so much, maybe because I live there and I've been doing it so long, but I guess to get in the mind of a young model... hopefully we will become friends, because we are going to be their family over there.
MR: You also have a connection with Florence.
PK: Milano and Florence. Florence we have a lot of commercial clients, and a lot of great photographers live in Florence. Models come in for one day, see some clients, then go back to Milano. It's only two-and-a-half hours by train.
MR: What do you want people to know about Joy?
PK: There are a lot of good agencies in Milano, and a lot of bad agencies in Milano, and a lot of the time they want the same girl. Our agency is a medium size agency, so the models get a lot of personal attention. I still think the person is more important than the model. There is a lot of personal attention and development.
We don't take models. We take beautiful girls and turn them into models. I hope that model appreciates this, because after we do all the dirty work, and they go on to New York, we hope they will remember us, and come back to work for us in a healthy, long-term cooperation.