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Finding the face that fits… a chat with Vivien’s Model MD Catherine McGill…


via Google

Her bare skin, freshly scrubbed sans make-up and hair undone, reflected a cool new youth with attitude, not privy to society’s restrictions, defiant of current trends and a mission to mould her own rules.
With no more than a nonchalant stare, Kate Moss delivered that message and more when she joined forces with Calvin Klein in 1993 to produce one of the most powerful and highly publicised campaigns of the decade.
The combination of Kate and Calvin proved a formidable recipe, it defined an era and saw fashion take a swift departure from the curvy supermodels of Cindy Crawford and Elle McPherson to Moss’ waif-like `heroin chic’.


Kate Moss with Calvin Klein

Thanks to the cyclical nature of fashion, the body trend has reverted back to the curvaceous figures of the 90s `supers’ with CK’s recent signing of shapely stunner and models.com world number one, Lara Stone.
This combination of the right face with the right brand has proven a tried and tested recipe for success.
FE blog had a chat with industry veteran and Vivien’s Models general manager, Catherine McGill. We quizzed her on what to look for when casting your next face or ambassador, and why choosing the right model is a critical decision in the placement and exposure of your brand for its future success.


Kristy Hinze with (L) Catherine McGill of Vivien’s Model Management and Friend (R)

How important is it to find the right model to fit your brand?

I think it is very important obviously there are so many different models out there to choose, so many different looks, personas, ages and experiences.
That’s because different models appeal to different sections of the public.
I have a very good example, we represent Kristy Hinze, she is the brand ambassador for Sportscraft, that brand embodies quality and elegance just like Kristy, and her reputation fits in with their target market. She is a fantastic fit for their label because of all those qualities she embodies and her personality.
The advantages of a model’s personal attributes, both physical and mental, are the positive influences she can bring to a brand.
Kristy embodies that good quality, a wholesomeness and freshness with intelligence due to her environmental work, she is the whole package.
Companies look for these qualities and attributes that will marry well with their brand, because everything is about the media and coverage.
Some brands might take a different view, maybe they are after a younger, funky and edgy girl to represent their brand, it just depends on the market you wish to appeal to.


Kristy Hinze on her yacht Athena for the Sportscraft Resort 2011 Collection launch

Why is it so important for a fashion brand to source the right girl? How does it help their brand?

The consumer identifies with the spokes model that is endorsing the brand, the characteristics they are putting forward. Again to take Kristy as an example, she has the intelligence, compassion and commitment in terms of environmental groups and foundations, she’s getting better with age and about to become a mother. I imagine that will appeal also to a wider cross section. But she is also very attractive, appealing to both men and women. She’s not so super sexy that women feel alienated by her but men think she is a good sort; her beauty is very appealing too. She is not weird or funky. She has had a very long career, but that has also been hard work on her part too, in making sure she does last.
Models at age 17-18 are naturally tall and skinny; hopefully we all were at some point, but at her age now any model that has that level of profile Kristy has, works very hard at all of those things. Those women see that (their health, look and figure) professionally, as their job and put a lot of effort into that. It’s not only about the way she looks, Kristy also maintains the way she carries herself, she is very cognisant of all of those attributes and in the way she lives her life.
These are all the assets that carry over into being a great brand ambassador.

From your experience in the industry, what kind of labels/brands/products have you seen flourish from this powerful combination of the right face and right brand?

In terms of actual commercial brands, Lara Bingle did the tourism campaign and that had a huge impact on the brand. We also represent a beautiful girl, Caroline Pemberton who was the 2007 Miss Universe Australia. As a result of her miss world experience, she is a very intelligent girl and did a lot of charity work in that competition. As part of that she went to East Timor to Dilhi and worked in an orphanage there. She was very genuinely affected by that and actually went back and filmed a segment for Getaway 2-3 years ago.
Just this year, in the last three months actually, she has been appointed brand ambassador for Tourism Timor. She will be in Timor for six weeks.
This is a coup because they have never ever had a Tourism Timor before now due to the civil unrest. So she will be promoting Timor as a tourism spot, for its diving, incredible scenery, wildlife and hospitable people.
So again, another beautiful, very capable and intelligent spokes model for that brand that will put their destination across and from a genuine experience, not a commercial experience.

What are some of the things you should look out for when casting for your brand? What advice do you have for new labels looking for a face to represent their product?

Number one, is ask what is your audience? What is your market?
Number Two, what attributes of your brand do you want to be shown to the public, how do you want to be portrayed?
And number three, who is the right spokes model to fit that? And is it long term or short term?
Some brands might want immediate media attention. There’s a different personality and a different model for each publicity campaign. It also depends on whether you want short term bang for your buck or a longer term, genuine relationship with the spokesperson.
I mean we see it on a short term basis in terms of seasonal campaigns, but that is not a spokes model or endorsement role as such. It’s usually just for that range.
The best idea is to keep in touch with your local agency.
As soon as we get new girls in town, we promote those girls to all of our clients.
From an agent’s perspective, we build up the girl’s career like we have with Kristy so that it has longevity and scope throughout their career.
As an agent, you have to guide it in a way, which also might mean not doing certain things. The most important thing is to just have their best interests in mind, think of who they are, the career they could have, and work around it best you can.

Who are some of the girls at your agency that we should be on the lookout for right now?

– MJ – Discovered while shopping in Alice Springs, Frockwriter called her the love child of `Uma Thurman and Elvis Presley’. After a successful RAFW, she just featured in her first Vogue Australia spread. We can’t wait to see how her future unfolds.



images via Style me Romy

– Olivia Thornton – the former Queensland girl has become the next face to watch. She had an incredibly successful RAFW and is also another example of a well-articulated and intelligent girl. She was a guest blogger for Pedestrian.tv during Fashion Week giving a daily update of a `day in the life’ and backstage banter during the shows. She also stars in the Aje Spring Summer 11/12 campaign.


via Jak&Jil

– Sarah Pauley – featured on models.com as one of the new faces to watch, the six foot tall strawberry blonde is a striking addition to the Australian model army. From a farming town in Western Australia’s Pengilly, Sarah has proven popular in Australia but is still unknown internationally. Catherine predicts she will do very well in couture and is currently in Korea.


– Tessa May – A Melbourne model with huge potential. Still quite young but very beautiful.

– Avril Alexander- a former Brisbane girl, Avril has worked with the industry greats including Ellery and Alex perry. She just shot a music video with Brian McFadden and is currently over in Europe, about to hit New York.



images via Fashionising

– Shanay Hall – originally from Perth, she shot to fame on the cover of Russh magazine and has since been seen in almost every top glossy title in Australia. She recently came back from a successful stint in New York to feature in a jeans campaign.


– Philippa Gleeson – a very beautiful, elegant girl – after walking a total of 15 shows, including Australia’s top designers Alice McCall, Dion Lee, Ellery, Flannel, Lisa Ho, Lover, Michael Lo Sordo, Shakuhachi and Zimmermann the Melburnian maven has a bright future. Proving her high fashion muscle, the talented teen featured in a boutique show for Chanel at the Grand Hyatt, Melbourne this week.



images via Fashionising

5 thoughts on “Finding the face that fits… a chat with Vivien’s Model MD Catherine McGill…

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