Those who only know Nolé Marin from his cheeky verbosities on America’s Next Top Model, may assume that Nolé Marin is just one of those charmed fashion creatures who added a little sass and spice to a reality show in need of ratings. Well, Nolé Marin is much more than that.
From styling top celebrities Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Hugh Jackman, Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz, Kanye West, and Tom Cruise to serving as fashion director of Runway Magazine, Nolé Marin is a veteran force to be reckoned with. As the director of his new agency, AIM Model Management, Nolé Marin is starting a new phase of his career and breaking new ground. And as always with Nolé, this new venture will be first class and fiercely fabulous; just like Nolé.
Fashion Reverie: Nolé Marin, you’ve had an illustrious career as a celebrity stylist, as a judge on America’s Next Top Model, and as a fashion director of a fashion magazine, why did you decide to start a modeling agency?
Nolé Marin: I was ready to start a new chapter in my life. After working with so many of my friends in the industry and scouting and helping to develop models at other agencies, I felt it was time to put my talents to use with something of my own. I wanted to give the industry a new look and a whole new breed of models.
The difference between my agency, AIM Model Management, and most new agencies is that we start with models with no experience or models coming from a secondary market or other countries, as opposed to persuading models to come to AIM from other top agencies. AIM is about finding the next generation of new models.
At the end of April, we will celebrate our first year anniversary. In the short time we’ve been in existence, we are doing extremely well. Our goal is to have about 40 to 50 young ladies and about 60 men.
FR: Why more men than women?
Nolé Marin: It takes a lot more time to develop young women and it is harder honing in a young lady that can work in this industry. There is also a lot more competition for the women. Believe it or not, a good male model is easier to develop, you don’t have to recruit them so young and there is less competition.
FR: Does your agency have a particular market?
Nolé Marin: Our market is definitely high fashion, but we also have commercial accounts.
FR: What growth have you had within the past year?
Nolé Marin: We have had tremendous growth. We are now working with mother agencies in Russia, China and Europe, and AIM Model Management will handle the New York market for models that have mother agencies in other countries.
Nolé Marin: The market is much more competitive, even the more commercial clients want top models to promote their brand, which makes it harder for a new agency. So, we have to push harder to get our models to get name recognition within the industry so that can book clients like Macy’s, Bloomingdales, etc. It really is about the revenue you are bringing in, as opposed to high fashion versus commercial.
FR: How long does it take to groom a new model?
Nolé Marin: Sometimes a new model can get bookings within a few weeks, others may take longer. Generally, it takes about three to six months to a year to groom a model enough to book major jobs. What makes a superstar is that indefinable quality that appeals to clients because they understand that model can sell product.
FR: Which AIM Model Management models are making a mark in the industry?
Nolé Marin: One of our new faces, Ian Sharpe booked Valentino exclusive as his first job. He has a lot of editorials and great options coming up. Nicole Bailey will be coming to our agency this summer and she will be making waves. Ryan Williams from Canada is also making waves.
FR: The industry is now embracing a more athletic male physique than the slender physique of past seasons. Why this change?
Nolé Marin: In the 80s and 90s the industry embraced guys and girls that were more athletic—remember Christie Brinkley, Tyson Beckford, Marcus Schenkenberg, and Cindy Crawford. When I worked at other agencies we would always tell the young guys to go to gym and build their bodies up. That athletic look gave way to a waif look. And the industry is now embracing a mores svelte, healthier physique.
Fashion is all about change. And as design aesthetic change, models change to match that aesthetic. The models are still svelte and thin, but healthier looking.
FR: What do you think of all the new model reality shows like Remodeled and Scouted?
Nolé Marin: When I was on America’s Next Model in cycle 2 and 3, I was warned that being on the show would ruin my career. Tyra Banks had difficulty getting industry professionals to appear on the show at first. Now, so many people have appeared on these shows from Andre Leon Talley to Diane Von Furstenberg.
Reality television is a great way to reach the masses if you are a designer, a stylist or a photographer. You really get coined as an expert and a tastemaker, so to speak. I am not so sure it is good for the models. These shows are always looking for ratings and drama can increase the ratings. As a model you don’t want to come across as difficult and unsophisticated. And sometimes the producers want that. Modeling is a lot of hard work and not as glamorous as it seems, and the reality shows sometimes don’t show the hard work.
Nolé Marin: We are developing a hair and makeup division where I can mentor hair, makeup and styling professionals. We are going to open up that division toward the end of April. With this addition, we will able to house everything within AIM and be a one-stop shop.