Friday, October 3, 2014

Meet Pierre Wardini, president of Models Inc a model and talent agency located in Beirut, Lebanon

Owner of Models Inc. through which he represents prestigious models in Lebanon, Pierre Wardini crafted the firm he founded in 1991 into Lebanon’s leading agency with over 50 female models. In this interview, we asked him to give us the inside on his profession and what clients look for in a model. He talks about business, egos, photography, social media and of course, supermodels.

How many years have you been working in the industry and how did you start out?
I started back in 1991, my mother was a model and I was enchanted by the world of fashion. Moreover, as a businessman I could see the financial possibilities that could be achieved if I were to fully focus and dedicate myself to the business. So in 1999 I decided to dedicate myself fully to this business and discovered even more that my passion was to create a revolution in this industry.

What do you most enjoy about your work?
Mostly I enjoy the contact with people and the beauty of images: two things I deal with on a daily basis.

Ah yes, the photography. Who are your favorite fashion photographers?
Peter Lindbergh, Enrique Badulescu, Mario Testino and Mikael Jansson.

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What about what you most dislike about your work?
Most people would probably think it is the often-mentioned superficiality of the business – but it isn’t! I don´t find this business superficial at all. Once you are in it you realize it is exactly that – a business – one that requires a lot of creativity, which is a privilege. What I really dislike are the big egos of some of the people in this business.

True that! Is there competition between different offices within the same modeling agency?
Models Inc. represents the most prestigious models in the region. I would say it has more to do with responsibility than competition. At the end of the day we want our clients to be happy and with clients I mean both models and clients – because we serve both of them.

How do you renew talent in such a fast-paced and competitive industry?
We have a division run by our two young bookers, who also take care of the scouting. Apart from this, thanks to our presence in the market for over 20 years, we have a great working relationship with agencies all over the world, who give us their talents for representation.

How do you decide whether a young candidate has potential?
Of course, height, face and measurements play a role. You asked me earlier what I like about this business. Well it is the factor of unpredictability. Sometimes you can have a “not 100% perfect model” that has it all due to her personality. So besides the mentioned facts, personality does matter. Our motto is: “ The secret to modeling is not being perfect” – by Karl Lagerfeld.

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Who are your most successful models and why are they so sought after?
Apart from our Top Models, those that have an open smile, healthy look and a friendly image are the most successful. Clients look for classical beauty with lots of personality.

The dreaded question…Agencies are often criticized for promoting extreme thinness and taking on girls at a very young age. What is your opinion on this?
In my agency I do not allow any girls under 16 to work. A scout can discover a 14-year-old girl, but at that age she shouldn’t be working in what is at the end of the day, a very tough profession.
Regarding thinness…Look, I think it’s still a problem. It’s true that for pret-a-porter shows, models have to be thin. There have been attempts at governmental regulation requiring a minimum Body Mass Index of 18. Often it is designers who are blamed as those wanting size 0, and this is partly true. But lately there really is a growing demand for healthy girls. Slim, but healthy. I always give the same example: They pay elite football players to stay in perfect shape, to be healthy and strong—not obese. In the same way, a model must have certain measurements, eat healthy and exercise. A model that does not exercise and is overweight will not find work. It’s the harsh reality…for models just as it is for sports players.

Does their presence and influence on social media networks have a significant effect on the success of a campaign?
Absolutely! Social media has become a main asset. A model that has many followers on Facebook and Instagram is more public and therefore known to more people. So the advertising value and effect is multiplied.
Social media also has become very important for us as agents. People not only want to engage with the models, but with the activities of the agencies as well.

Is there a specific formula to finding the right model for a specific campaign?
I don´t think so. I guess it lies mostly in listening to the client’s needs and putting your personal tastes aside.

Tell us something that most people don’t know about your work/modeling/fashion industry.
People tend to think models are not very bright and just beautiful. I can only say…this is not true at all. Models who travel alone at a very young age, adjust and adapt to new photography teams every day, deal with adult professionals in the business and still give everything that is asked from them in front of a camera in order to keep the client satisfied are anything but not bright. They make relatively large amounts of money per day and have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. They have to play their role in an adult business world and do a great job of it. Personally, I have a lot of respect for these young girls who are thrown into the business world unprepared and who manage to pull it off so well.

What about your best clients—those who you enjoy working with the most?
All of my clients…that is why I love my job!

Thank you Pierre!



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1 comment:

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