Trudi Tapscott

Models and Magazine Covers – W Magazine – Steven Meisel and Edward Enninful

It is a big deal in America when we see beautiful images of models on the covers of fashion magazines. And it is even more interesting when a magazine interviews them in a meaningful way. I applaud W Magazine today.

For many years, this was the goal of a model and her agent. It was the pinnacle of star power and offered cosmetic opportunities along with name and face recognition. We watched as it slowly slipped away to celebrities and Hollywood who arrived with a movie to sell and therefore, something to talk about. And this sold magazines.

That being said, this is fashion. At the starting point of creation and introduction on the runway, we imagine designs on our “uber” human fashion models. They glamourize the clothes. Despite our celebrity driven society and our over accessibility to fashion and “labels”, we must recognize, the fashion we dream about is usually on a model.

The covers of W magazine for the month of July will be talked about. Steven Meisel and Edward Enninful created amazing images of two models that may be our modern version of “super” and that Karlie Kloss and Joan Smalls have interesting things to say.

If you agree, BUY it. Don’t just read it on line and think that is good enough. It is not. Like all else, this is about what sells. And I miss the days when models sold fashion and cosmetics, all the time and to everyone. I miss the magic.


Scam Straight – The Truth About Model Scout Scams

Every legitimate agency in the world will tell you that you don’t need to pay money to be a model, don’t need to pay for classes, and don’t need to pay a fee to meet them in person. If they are interested, they will work with you and guide you to get started.

It is honest because it is the truth. However, in an effort to scout and find great potential models, agencies

inadvertently support those that do charge you. Scouting is expensive and a different endeavor than managing models in a big market. It is easier for agencies in major markets to go to an event that “gathers” potential models into one place.

This is part of the scam that no one speaks about. The agencies and their scouts know the kids and parents have paid for classes, portfolios and entrance fees all just to “meet” agents from New York, Paris, London and Milan. And some of these agencies lend their logo and endorsement so that these types of “scouts” can validate their process, making them look legitimate to the average person. And there are few ways to qualify the good ones since the agencies come to these events.

It is confusing because the facts are manipulated. There are hard costs that a model must be responsible to pay. Modeling is a skill, and therefore sometimes in the beginning, you need to pay for tests with good photographers to get you started and learn how to take a great picture, consistently.  By working with a few photographers you get a variety of pictures and lots of experience, while also learning to be comfortable in front of the camera, how to work with different people and understand photography. A portfolio is not shot by one photographer, a common sales pitch, and as you improve, your pictures improve and the old are replaced with the new. There are expenses for composite cards, website promotion, messenger fees, and prints for books, travel and housing, etc. Model’s are starting a business and are not an employee of the modeling agency.

That being said, if you are in a small town, you are not going to identify your potential by paying for these things to meet an agency from a major market. Most of the time, potential models and their parents have invested too much too soon before knowing if modeling is a valuable consideration and if they have the potential. Someone has told them they have it and the only way to get an agency’s interest, or to work, is to make the investment. Usually, with the wrong guidance and at an age that is not appropriate.

And here lies the biggest corruption and confusion. You need guidance, you need experience and you need information. So, you go to the closest and most local place because you are brand new. And most modeling “businesses” in local and small markets have found a way to make money from that need, not your potential. An entire business was created years ago selling you classes, or pictures or a convention.

The skill and potential of a model is elusive. Which is why an evaluation from an agent or scout who has a bigger picture of the business is more beneficial. If you have what it takes to be a model or play on the tennis team or be an actor, there are professional scouts that can give you a few try outs, observe you and then give you an evaluation, advise you on your success rate and decide if they want to represent you or what your next step should be; sometimes it is just wait a year. Luck only takes you to a certain point, and then talent must take over at the right time to reach success. And then the management of a model’s career begins. The industry of model management in the fashion industry is quite different than the business of scouting.

With all of this in mind, I must defend the agents, the legitimate agents, in large markets who manage the top models of the world. They are always looking for new models to be their clients. The fact is, rarely the young girl who walks in the door or emails is the one with star potential. The scouting divisions and scouts for major agencies rely on sources and referrals to discover models. It is a scavenger hunt when looking in the small towns of America, which they don’t frequently visit. And where would they look? So they depend on good local and regional agents and scouts who cultivate and look for talent in small markets all the time. Sometimes, not knowing or caring the method they were found.

I have been involved in scouting for years in one way or another. Contests, model searches, mall searches, radio searches, model conventions, judging and guest speaking at conventions. Even the Oprah Winfrey models search that discovered Leslie Bibb. Once you find someone with potential, there are so many factors beyond physical genetics that strongly influence success or failure. It becomes a numbers game of great volume to find one worthy of investment. It is hard to find that special one and the process of educating them and their parents is time consuming. And it is during this process that their level of success is determined.

When scouting, we go out and look for potential in public places, events, and gathering places. Some days it is like watching paint dry waiting for someone to walk by who is a possibility. And because we are seeking them, we never know if they are interested or would be serious because it is not their drive or it hadn’t occurred to them. It just happened. A stranger approached them with a question and a compliment, and now wants to know everything about them to determine if they’ve “got it”.

So why is it so easy to convince someone that they can buy their way into this business? A Cinderella story, everything is done for you, and you don’t have to pay for anything, be responsible for much and it is easy. None of that is true. But the compliment turns into a dream and a goal without knowing much about what all it entails.

You could be a beautiful Cinderella and not a good model. Your character could not be a good match for this business. You may struggle with many, many things in an industry that is fiercely competitive and although in love with beauty, and maybe yours, has a tendency to be quite fickle and curious about what is new and what is next. Like any competitive activity or job, you have to do something special to get something special from the industry and KEEP that interest.

This mystery has created the need for “volume” in scouting in order to create a top model. It has slowly eroded the truth and the business of identifying real potential. There are more scouts and more people trying to make money on the dream, and not actually taking the proper time and dedication to develop it.

There is a great need for guidance for the young potential model from her hometown, during school, and preparing her for the business of learning how to model. There is a lot to learn for her AND her parents. This is not like any other business that I know of, and although similar to some like sports or acting when starting, the actual business is quite specific. Parents try to understand, but usually find it very frustrating. No one is “whisked” away to stardom regardless of how beautiful or how “obvious” it may seem. And it is built on subtle relationships, not like a sales job. You work your way up and you work to get there. It is competitive and clients and photographers have specific criteria that you won’t understand and difficult to explain. The character, behavior and disposition of the model AND her parents, creates the platform for the success to be built on once the physical abilities have been discovered.

This is a great business, and a fun business. It is a shame to see the “scammers” create the illusion of success. A good coach has won a few games and knows how to navigate from the minor leagues to the majors. Find a good one, and the experience will be rich.


Some words from James Scully, Casting Director for Stella McCartney, Oscar de La Renta – just to name a few

James Scully has been a casting director ever since I can remember. He has an exciting, crazy fashion job and I wanted to ask him some questions to really show the process of casting. He has been involved in different efforts to move the modern agenda in the right direction, including the CFDA/Vogue Health Initiative plus he has spoken on many panels highlighting the size and the age issue for models. His experience has been an asset to including the career of a model to be an important part of the fashion brand discussion. I love his knowledge of our cyclical world, and I have always appreciated his examples that exemplify the truth.

Who do you cast for during show season?

Jason Wu, Derek Lam, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Nina Ricci, Stella McCartney and special projects for Lanvin and Tom Ford.  And hopefully, 1 new client I’m very excited about and should know any day now.

What is the importance of a model being available for New York, London, Milan and Paris during show season?

Well, it’s definitely important as one of the big changes in the industry was the importance of print work and certain fashion photographers used to dictate which models were hot at the moment, and as casting directors we used to follow that lead. Now, with and other magazine websites, a model can have a very high profile just by doing a handful of the right shows instantly. The shows definitely now launch a models career faster.

What is the first step of your process in casting for shows? Do you see models just before the shows start or in between?

I see most models just before and I don’t do a lot of in between castings.  I get the agency packages and edit out who I need to see. Some people see every girl at every agency. I don’t because there are just some girls that are not right for me or my shows so I’ll see them if I have another project they may be right for. You get a lot of information sent to you throughout the year so I know who these models are and if they strike an interest in me I’ll make a point to find them.  But my work has a definite schedule to it and when I’m not working I disappear so I can wait till the shows when everyone is in town at once. For my needs I’m only interested in who’s in town to work with me at that moment.

Pictured below James is being “appreciated” by Daria Stroukus and Ginta

What is the process once you like a model new to the business?

Well since I work for many varied people when I meet a new girl I’m already slotting her into how many of my shows she could work for whether it’s 1 or all of them. So, once I like them initially, they will meet all my clients. Once they start getting my shows they are on those boards until the client no longer wants to use them.

At what point does the “mood” of the collection come into the casting process for you?

It depends on the client but I would say the type of girl is more important for my clients and me. At Nina Ricci the girls tend to be more refined, frail “jeune fille”, because the clothes have lightness about them. Stella McCartney is about maturity, a great body and lots of confidence and that’s a hard show to cast because that kind of model is dwindling. But a good example this season would be Jason Wu. His clothes tend to be for a more adult customer so to put conventionally beautiful girls in them would make them look less modern. He tends to like kooky character girls. They take the clothes out of context and give more edge and youth. This season the show was imperial china and some of the girls he normally uses just looked to frail in these very powerful military clothes so we did not use them. That is not to say they won’t be right for the next show.

Could you explain why a model in high demand might not be right for a certain collection?

Lots of reasons, some girls are very specific and just cannot cross over to every show. Or a girl is great to look at but does not have the confidence or walk that will appeal to everyone. A model may seem strange to some initially, but once people get used to her looks she can eventually appeal to everyone.  Great examples of this in the past would be Nadja Auermann, Kirsty Hume and Stella Tennant.  In the era of Christy, Naomi and Cindy these “new” girls seemed like Martians and one-season ponies. They were very shocking to meet for the first time. They were all too tall, couldn’t walk, not buxom like the other models of that time but each went on to have very successful commercial careers, and broke the mold for what people thought was beautiful. Today’s examples would be Meghan Collison Saskia de Braw and Julia Nobis. Although if this were the 80’s I think Saskia would have been racking up Vogue covers with Isabella Rossellini and Alexa Singer (yes I just dated myself).

Pictured below James is on the CFDA Panel with (from left) Aerin Lauder, himself, Doutzen Kroes, David Bonnouvrier (President of DNA Models), Zac Posen and Tonne Goodman (Vogue Editor)

How do you know what the designer is looking for in a model? Does it change every season?

Ahh, here’s the can of worms I could talk about for days. Where to start? Many casting directors have different styles. Mine is defining a girl for a designer and keeping it consistent.  So that does not mean constant change for me.  Most people don’t know what they are looking for these days because the biggest blow to the industry is the American fashion magazine and their celebrity covers. Vogue was the gold standard for any model in the business, the pinnacle, the Zenith.  That set the standard of any girl that walked into an agency. You had to be beautiful enough to eventually get that cover and you had years to work yourself up to that honor. When you did you called the shots. Every show had to have you.  With no covers for girls and the rise of stylists who need an inspiration fix as quickly as the internet moves, and many who don’t understand the difference between a show girl and a print girl, this ushered in what I call the era of the disposable model.

Prada became the benchmark combing Eastern Europe for EXCLUSIVE girls much too young and inexperienced to be in any shows but their shows.  I will credit them with creating a look that worked in a very provocative, interesting way for their image. This coupled with the rise of just had people on the edge of their seats waiting to see who the next hot girl at Prada would be and everyone just handing you a list of what they wanted from the internet instead of doing their own thing.  Problem is Prada would just replace them every season and though what they did for themselves I found brilliant, most of these girls were very disappointing in real life. Too young, no confidence or life experience and gone by next season.  So models were no longer developed. Show packages went from 20-30 dependable aspirational girls to 400 girls a season and after seeing them, maybe finding two okay acceptable girls to work with. And then everyone from Calvin on down just followed suit trying to do what Prada did getting all exclusive crazy but doing it very badly and unoriginally.  Personality and ethnicity disappeared and these pre-pubescent girls are why model size went from 8-0. And the business has not recovered from it and the situation is getting worse.

I don’t know who decided 16 was acceptable but when a girl who has not yet developed breasts or even a sense of who she is and is thrust into a woman’s job is hard enough. But then to be made to feel guilty by stylists and designers for turning into a woman must really be a mind f**k no matter what age you are.  And it’s forcing these girls to make very damaging uninformed decisions regarding their health to stay competitive.  What’s worse is that it axed out all the seasoned girls like Daria, Natalia, Raquel and Caroline Trentini who would all still be doing shows but they don’t want to compete with children for the same jobs, so they stopped. And we have not had worthy replacements since.

Is there a “style” of walking that you like? If a model has a bad walk, can it be adjusted?

That’s where I’m old school, if you can’t walk you will not be in my shows. I don’t care who you are shooting with or what hot shows you have under your belt. I can’t put an unpolished girl in front of my clients or it looks like I’m not doing my job.

James and Derek Lam below

What do you like the most about casting for shows?

I really do love to match a girl with a client and of course, my clients. That’s the challenge of what I do to present models that they will appreciate and develop relationships with and to see her career develop as a whole. People always ask is there a show I don’t have that I would like to cast and I always say Balmain. I love how definitive their point of view is beautiful, sexy, grown up and they never stray and they use the same girls who fly in just to be in it. When they add someone new you notice because it’s not about the girl of the moment. A Balmain model has to earn her place!

That’s my philosophy and why Stella McCartney and Tom Ford are favorites.  You become a character in their world and its about you as an individual not just being a lifeless characterless body which is what 90% of all shows are today. I think people have lost sight of what a runway image does. The woman who buys these clothes is sophisticated, rich and they need to see themselves in that picture to give them desire to want to purchase into this world.  It’s as simple as that. Models bring clothes to life. I know so many women outside of this business that look at teenage girls in these clothes and can’t relate. So sadly fashion loses out because at least a woman can look at a celebrity because they look real. And that’s bad also because celebs have now taken the aspiration and exclusivity out of the business because they make every thing average and accessible.  And that’s sad. The character of this business is what I miss the most. So the highlights for me are very few and far between.

What is the best advice you can give a model going on a show casting? What they should do, or not do, and what bugs you?

Nothing bugs me about girls in particular more than agencies are sending out girls that are not ready and when I have to see 400 of them it is very depressing and overwhelming So it’s a girl with personality and confidence that will always stand out in that crowd as clichéd as that sounds. And be on time! Always remember, if you, the model, is having trouble keeping up with your day, don’t try to fix it yourself. Call your agent and they will take care of alerting everyone else for you and giving you the priorities.

What is “looks” with a designer? Why do you ask models to do “looks”?

Ah looks models and hair and makeup girls are THE BAIN of every casting directors existence.  When a designer is creating all the outfits they will eventually use in their shows they hire a model and try all the looks on her to eventually edit and decide what will finally be in the show.  Some people hire models that strictly do only looks and not shows, employ a house model or many like to find a girl that may represent the kind of model that would be on their runway. Many times the looks girl will make the show so for a new girl this could be a big break in their career.  Though it is a good confidence builder and practice for a new girl it is very long hours and hard work and low pay depending on what designer you work for. A lot of girls do not like it or if they do it once and never want to do it again.  So it’s really hard to find girls to do looks especially since stylists want editorial girls and from experience those girls know better. Funny and yet, true. However there are some instances that it is a very pleasurable profitable thing to do.

What does the term, “fit to confirm” mean and why is it important? Could you give an example?

Fit to confirm is a new concept. Another thing that began happening with the stylists (who can’t make up their minds) and disposable girls. Before the supermodels and up until the Natalia, Liya, Daria generation of models, you committed to your cast you booked your models and you paid them. You would NEVER think of cancelling a girl of Linda Evangelista’s caliber. The girls had the power and if they felt a client wronged them they banned together and would boycott your show and you would develop a reputation of a problem client. If a dress did not fit a girl or her body changed you fixed the dress you did not cancel the model for it!

Now you put tons of girls on hold and you do not officially confirm them until they have been fit.  Since a lot of people see only runway photos before meeting models, and you had to pay them, when you finally saw the “girl of the moment” and realized she’s not really “all that” your expenses would be outrageous.

What is the funniest thing that happened during a casting or a fitting?

Funny things usually happen at shows not really during castings. However, I recently had a Chinese model come in to meet me and she pointed at me and said “ I google you and can’t find nothing except you president of J Crew? How you do both jobs?” I share my name with the VP of J Crew. So I laughed out loud and booked her for all my shows. I love a girl who attempted to do her (botched) homework.  Her English has not improved and she sent me a Christmas card this year written in the 3rd person. I LOVE her!

Who are some of the models that you used their first season and then went on to become top stars? What did you see in them on the first meeting that sparked your eye?

Again this goes down to clients. So many people (and their egos) think if you have the girl first that’s what counts. It does not! It is the knowing and the instinct of  the right girl at the right time in the right show.

Certainly during the Tom Ford Gucci/YSL days there were a lot of first timers Liya Kebede, Julia Stegner, Erin Wasson, Karen Elson to name a few.  They all represented something Tom was looking for at the time. But Natalia was around for about a year before her exclusive made her a star. Georgina Grenville was a fit model before Gucci. Arizona Muse was a commercial showroom model for years but Prada took her to the mainstream. Givenchy does a good job re-starting the careers of models whose star may have fallen.

So for me first means nothing. When I look at a girl for the first time I’m looking for star quality and longevity which in those days everyone had in spades! Even if a girl is not right but I know that quality is there I’ll let her cut her teeth in the business and jump on her when the time is right for me and my clients.  When I work with young designers I try to identify girls that I think will have great careers and grow with them as part of their cabine. For example, when Derek Lam had his first show it just happened that the new girls in town were Jessica Stam, Anja Rubick and Caroline Trentini and they remained very loyal to him. Recently with Jason Wu his first big show the new kids were Abbey Lee, Karlie Kloss and the new and improved Joan Smalls. Because of these girls and many others he became a hot show. Things like this are what make my job still exciting to do.

James and Hanne Gaby below

How should a model dress when coming to see you for a show?

I would say personal style wins. If you have good style you stand out. I’m sure girls feel a lot more comfortable and at ease dressed as themselves and certainly more confidant. I hate the agency outfit of bodysuit, black mini tights and high heels. It takes a lot of confidence in yourself to pull that off and so many girls just outwardly look so unhappy to be traipsing around in something that makes them feel awkward, and that shows in your casting. I think half the reason that girls like Tati Collar, Hanne Gaby, and Maria Carla were noticed was that they all have great personal style and prove that it is not just conventional beauty that makes a great model. When I first met Erin Wasson she was wearing a peasant skirt a tiny denim jacket and a paisley turban. She had so much style (still does) and confidence. Two days later she was on a plane to Milan and exclusive at Gucci and the rest was history. I say stand out if it works for you.  That said, I’ve also had models show up in my office looking like extras from a Mary Jane Girls video so don’t over dress either or maybe that’s where I’d leave that up to the agency and have them don the classic go see outfit when all else fails.

Thank you so much James for your insight and fearless honesty. You have shared  some great details of the job of a casting director. In my opinion, your knowledge and background of the model in the fashion industry is what adds so much rich depth to your talent and personal touch to what you do. There are few left in this industry that respect the history of how we got to the present.



SCOUT GIRL | Madison Mumm shot by Erin Olson @erinscouted…

SCOUT GIRL | Madison Mumm shot by Erin Olson @erinscouted….

A Mother’s Thank You


I read, “Age Does Matter” you posted on your site.  I must tell you that I agree 110% with everything you wrote.

I have a 14-year-old daughter that also does modeling here and there, as you know, and I guide her with the same principles as yours. When I share your words with Shannan, she always agrees with your opinion.  She trusts you even though we live far away, and we value your knowledge so much.

To me, it gives me peace of mind that I am taking her in the right direction by letting her be a “model” sometimes, and really waiting for you to help her when the time is right. To Shannan, it gives her strength to be patient by really understanding the process. She is getting some experience she can use  to continue the journey and work full time as a model when she grows up.

This is a note, just to say “Thank You” again for you being a great professional and a wonderful person. I hope all the inspired teenagers, who want to work as a full time model one day, and their parents, have a chance to read your words about age and modeling, just like Shannan and I did.


Ursula and Shannan




AGE DOES MATTER by Trudi Tapscott

During this last show season, the conversation about the well being of models escalated to more transparency than ever before.There are lessons to be learned on all sides and no one is free of reflection to make appropriate changes. Some areas are more complicated than others.

It seems like a simple task to guide all entities to making the right decision, especially when speaking about the welfare of young people.  But when you look at all sides of responsibility, there are many opinions and points of view to consider.

That being said, the age issue seems simple. The CFDA guidelines requiring models to be 16 years of age to work during New York fashion week is the first step in the right direction, in my opinion. This is an adult business. There is pressure and money at stake for everyone involved when promoting a brand. Anyone who expects a 14 year old to manage their emotions in this environment is nuts. It can even be hard for an 18 year old.

A model is a part of something larger, but not in control of the outcome. They have a physicality that is desired and hopefully a personality that backs that up, but modeling is an elusive skill that is judged and accepted by a few key people. It is hard to explain to anyone who is not “in it” or been very close to the sidelines. So the skill that makes one model a success over another is not specific once the physical aspects and physique are met.

The grooming and basics for a model with true modeling potential can start locally or regionally on a small scale and at a young age. A teenager may be “scouted” at 13 or 14 years old, but does not need to be in a large market at that age. I tell my clients that it is practice or pretend modeling until you are old enough to manage the entire business and the pressures that go with it. It doesn’t make my advice, or me, popular at times. Sometimes, it gives competitors a chance to offer a dream and world of opportunity ignoring the truth to gain the confidence of an aspiring model and her parents. It is easy to say what they want to hear.

Scouting requires an eye and imagination, but bears the responsibility of preparing the potential model and her parents for the business. This means the cold hard truth if you are experienced and strong enough to be honest and patient. It is much like sports, acting, music or any other competitive business. You need to learn before you can compete on a high level. But you never really know how far you will succeed until you do it. Dropping out of high school does not rush you to the top quickly to reach success. The fall from the top can be hard. Fashion can wait until a model is old enough to manage the “elusive” elements and therefore become relevant. Beauty doesn’t disappear.

During fashion week a designer said, “where are the parents?” and I have often wondered the same from time to time. That observation is from an adult in the business of promoting his brand, and maybe should not be deemed as the ethical barometer. It is not a reason to ignore suggested guidelines about age requirements, which should be the law for minors, but it is not necessarily the designer’s responsibility. Because the shows are so exciting and have launched many a career, fashion week, which is really a month, has been the primary focus of scouts and agents for years; a goal of preparation and quick response, so to speak. It is a moment of fast recognition and face-to-face encounters with an important, seated audience. However, in order to make the shows really pay off, a model needs to be available for the shooting season immediately following. If you go right back to school, it makes a challenging scheduling to maximize the efforts. It is a grueling pace for anyone. Models are expected to be up early, be on time, look amazing and dressed with style, run from here to there and back, while always staying happy to be there.

The modeling business is not a reality TV show that happens in a capsule. It is a business that takes years within which to build a reputation, if you want a good one, and minutes to be rejected or cancelled. This business is not for everyone, no matter how beautiful you are. Ambition and desire can overcome the ultimate goal and shortcuts never assist in attaining a career. If you want to be a recognized top model, then you will be required to work hard, and hopefully a little luck will assist you with the right introduction at the right time.

There are photographers and clients who won’t book a model unless she is 18. They should be praised for applying a standard that works for them and gives them the opportunity to only work with models that are experienced and available.

Bringing awareness to the age subject, and a few other issues related to the betterment of models, is important. And yet, in order to bring about a discussion or debate, it seems impossible to do so without pointing fingers.

What I find dangerous is to collectively criticize. So I am glad some of the pitfalls are being spoken about in a reasonable manner, and hope that it is the beginning of positive change.

Fashion is a small and exclusive club for the most part, and a young model strives to be successful, possibly ignoring her inner voice. Powerful decision makers can be convincing and give the illusion that they like and care on a personal level. It is a job. A job that can develop some outstanding friendships, create an amazing life for a model and work with the great people creating inspiring images with a passport full of amazing destinations.

And in the end, it is work and that is why age matters.



Gina Wiberg – Her Story

by Trudi Tapscott

 It is surprising to me when someone who wants to be a model is under the impression that you are “plucked” from your hometown and somehow with magical dust will become a famous model. Or that a scout or an agency will see one family snapshot and determine you are the next big thing.

 Turning potential into an actual model takes time, guidance, patience and hard work. It doesn’t happen in one photo shoot.

 Recently, it occurred to me that the most interesting part of scouting is the process of a model evolving from a beginner to coming into her own, and feeling like a model. That single moment when we know she is ready to handle the job and the business.

 Gina Wiberg, from Utah, recently appeared on the show Scouted on the E! Channel with Erin Olson, who scouted her.

From the beginning, Erin knew that Gina had something special and uniquely different, but that she wasn’t ready. If what a scout sees doesn’t come through in a picture it is difficult to present a model to the best agencies.

First clue, this is a subjective business and timing is everything.

This is the first picture that Gina sent to Erin in November of 2010.

Erin immediately contacted Gina and started the process of explaining how it works and what she needed to do. First step was to get her hair back to its natural color. So in a few weeks, Gina sent this image to Erin.

Erin continued talking to Gina, and her parents, and they did a couple practice digital sessions so that Gina could learn how to move in front of the camera and what were her best angles. Gina had not finished growing at this point.

 In March of 2011, I came to visit Erin in Salt Lake City to meet all of her finds. At that time we were in the process of merging her scouting company and my management company. During that visit I met Gina. I took a couple quick digitals of her at my hotel to have as a reference for further conversations. We asked her to arrive with her hair natural.

Gina’s personality was always a huge asset. But she had some work and practice to do focusing on how to hold her head and her mouth.

At this point, it was clear that Gina had potential, and we discussed her hair and ways to increase her confidence. After a few digital sessions with Erin our goal was to test her with a local photographer so when she turned 16 we had material to present to agencies. Ironically, the local photographer didn’t happen first.

Erin spent a lot of time encouraging Gina and teaching her what to do. The next digital photo session, Gina was more relaxed and had her first walking lesson with Erin.

At this point, I started sending out Erin’s digitals of Gina. Agents felt that she was pretty and had good proportion but they weren’t convinced that she was ready. In other words, they weren’t quite sure. Then Gina had the opportunity to shoot with Chadwick Tyler, a NY based photographer who came to Salt Lake City. After this shoot, Gina was excited and committed to become a model. Shooting with Chadwick was a personal lesson and fun. He spent a lot of time with her. Each step, from the beginning to the present, is subtle and a transition that is impossible to explain without images.

Gina’s special and different qualities began to shine. She grew an inch over the summer, which gave her confidence, and her body proportion slimmed out. Gina was invited to participate in Salt Lake City’s Fashion Night Out event and be part of the advertising campaign.

The image that resulted from Gina’s participation on the TV show Scouted shows how Gina has grown. She is still the same, but different, relaxed and confident. That night after this photo shoot with Danny Christensen Gina called me, and her enthusiasm and excitement was through the roof. It was definitely a moment that gave both Erin and I a huge smile.

When Gina came home from New York, I wanted her to keep working in front of the camera. She was planning to go back to New York in the spring or summer and I wanted her to continue testing. So she worked with a great Salt Lake City based photographer Tessa Barton. These are a few images from that session.

The point is that it didn’t happen over night. Now Gina is very conscious of what it takes on the part of a model to create a great picture. Every shoot she gets better and although still a beginner in the eyes of most, we are so very proud of her diligence, enthusiasm, positive attitude and ability to understand verbal direction and put it to use. Beyond her beauty, Gina has great people skills, is confident, doesn’t take herself to seriously, treats it as a business and laughs a lot.

All we have to say is Holy Cow!

Gina is represented by Stars Model Management in California and One Model Management in New York


“From the moment I started working in New York, I was in Trudi’s hands. I feel so lucky she was the one to be involved in every step of my career since then. Her decisions were motivated by her years of experience and what was the best for me. We were more than a model and an agent as we became (and still are) very good friends. I was so comfortable to ask her ANYTHING! And to talk about everything. She made me feel important and protected; Trudi would bring the wall down for me! And we had so much fun and we laughed and laughed. I still have Trudi as my friend and I miss her so much as my agent. I am jealous of the girls that have the opportunity to work with her now.”

Edita Vilkeviciute – Model with Dna Model Management and Viva Model Management

Thank you Emily


“Trudi Tapscott was an invaluable guide and because of her respectful and insightful candor, I was able to understand the business of modeling.”

Emily Sandberg – Model, Writer and Creator of

SupermodelBlogger – Emily Sandberg

Recently, Emily Sandberg and Craig Palmer gave me the opportunity to speak with them. Links to both interviews are listed below.

Both journalists provided a different perspective in their introduction and photo choices. A huge THANKS to each of them.

Here is my friend Emily’s interview on her blog.

Trudi Tapscott: Fashion’s Powerful Model Advocate

We all have that person in our lives that steps up to the plate and advocates when no one else does.  If we’re lucky, we have more than one. Trudi Tapscott has taken advocating to a whole new level.

I first met Trudi walking into Vogue’s offices.  I was meant to meet directly with Anna but when I showed up the office told me to go to Trudi’s office first.

Trudi shook my hand and sat me down.  ”Look,” she said.  ”I really believe in you but I’ll be honest with you, Anna doesn’t get it.” Trudi then told me to go back home and guided me how to look (hair, makeup, nails and dress), how to walk into Anna’s office, what to say, what not to say, and how to exit. She led me through the process and laid out clearly the parameters.

Immediately I felt safe.  I knew exactly where I stood, what my obstacles were and what I could do to deal directly with them. Most importantly, I understood in that moment that I was in the room with someone who was willing to take a calculated risk and fight for what they believed in. Because of that experience, I payed close attention to Trudi Tapscott, following her career as she went from Vogue Bookings Editor to managing supermodels at DNA Model Management and now scouting in the south, creating Trudi Tapscott Model Management and developing talent for larger markets.

Craig Palmer and I spoke with Trudi to get put a magnifying glass on her talents as well as gain insight into the inner workings of fashion.

During your tenure as a model booker at DNA Model Management, what qualities did you observe girls possessed that helped them with longevity in their careers?

There are so many qualities that come into play for success as a model. I observed so much. First, let me say that I never referred to myself, or any of my colleagues, as “bookers”. It is a term that lends itself to booking airline tickets or cars or theatre tickets.  I prefer the term managers because it encompasses the totality of the job from A to Z.

My observations are the subtleties that so many take for granted. Models can’t be imposters in the game. Photographers, editors and designers have a sixth sense about determining the truth when a model is really what they are looking for. You can’t fake it; they see the cues. How you photograph is obvious, but the other elements are who you are and how people relate to you. You must have an understanding of fashion and the business, a natural curiosity for the work and history of what has come before you. It is naïve to think that you can survive in an industry you have no knowledge about.

Thick skin, having a sense of humor, people skills and actually caring about the people you work with but not a forced character help. Good energy that makes others comfortable helps, because everyone won’t like you for a job right now, but an impression is good.  Minds change in this business. It is funny because all models reach the intended level of their potential in the end.

Knowing HOW to model, understanding fashion, and what makes a great picture help too. All photographers and teams are different and models work with different teams every day for the most part. This requires a curiosity, imagination and listening, for flexible adjustments. Models are a part of creating the mood, but it is a subtle inspiration.

Do model bookers set the standard and trends when discovering new models or are they merely a conduit for designers?

Scouts and agencies bring the best of talent to the table. Sometimes the timing is not what designers are dreaming about at the time. There is no way to set the trend with only the model in mind. They have to inspire or fit into the collection inspiration. The fashion mood and trend is the dictator. This is the beginning. There are so many factors to consider when developing a model. So many times it takes several seasons for a model to “catch on”, and that is because designers, editors and photographers all “fall in love” on their own time line. The model has to fit into the concept of their brand. Once a model gets started and is in the casting “mix” and clients are able to see the possibilities she offers, her image is seen as more flexible and not just one frame. That helps for a designer and casting director to push for a model. That is not to say that when someone exceptional walks in the door, she could not be the must have inspiration for someone; It happens.

As obesity increases, the BMI of the population increases. What is considered normally thin today will be considered abnormally thin tomorrow.  What role do you feel the fashion industry plays in setting the standard of the ideal body type?

This is such a tricky and complex subject. I believe that the fashion industry has extended themselves as a group to address the subject. The Council of Fashion Designers of America and VOGUE magazine have made guidelines to assist and put the subject at the forefront of a conversation. Agencies are always aware and on guard to help models who are in danger with their body image.

That being said, I don’t think that the modeling industry is responsible for the body image of individuals. We could also look to Hollywood in this equation as well. The point really is that if the industry of image making does not photo shop images to ridiculous standards, which is deceiving and unacceptable, they are in a business of selling clothes, products and image.

The truth is that models need to fit into a concept for a job. This is not going to change; Any evolution takes time. Parents and young women are responsible for their body image. There are many examples of successful individuals larger than a size zero. Idolize and emulate whoever you like, but you can’t expect a designer or a magazine to take full responsibility for your feelings about your body.

It is my understanding, and I have been a part of many projects with experts, that an eating disorder is primarily a psychological issue of a complex nature; Obesity is the same. Everyone knows what is needed do in order to decrease his or her BMI. This should be a concern for our overall health, heart and mind.

Because I work with young teenage women, I talk about this subject quite openly, but with caution. No need to create a problem that is not already predisposed. I also think that our society should not give so much power to beauty and perfection, and value the individual character. All trends have an end, and hopefully we will become less fascinated with the exterior of others. For the sake of our young generation, we need to change.

American VOGUE is marketed toward a specific socio-economic, predominately white audience.  As a former Model Bookings Editor at VOGUE, how much of this did you take into consideration when booking models to appear in the pages of the magazine?

I am not sure I agree completely. I think the demographics of the readership reflect a mix and a socio economic issue comes up in the price point more than anything. There is always a leader or top tier in fashion. That is no surprise, and merchandising has always followed the “elite” of the design world by emulating them.

During my time at VOGUE and working for Anna Wintour, she was actively aware of who her readers were and was a leader to make change in ethnic diversity. We launched Liya Kebede and Oluchi during my time there.  It was a serious element that Anna always wanted to focus on. I will say, that if a model isn’t a VOGUE model, she isn’t regardless of ethnicity. Trends and vision take time to hit the market, and models are no different. As the evolution occurred, and the opportunities opened up, the magazine had more model choices. It has taken a long time and a spectacular moment for Asian models to be so prevalent in fashion. VOGUE magazine went to those markets developing their brand increasing overall exposure and gaining outlets.  Models and their looks or “types” are a part of larger trend than just “the model”.

I am looking at the current V magazine Model Issue and it is an explosion of current, modern beauties that reflect the business now. All of these efforts give scouts, casting directors, agents, models, photographers and designers new inspiring options. Diversity is extremely important for our culture, humanity and our creative influence and I think it has now become a huge part of the exceptional.

The fashion industry is often criticized for perpetuating a limited ideal of beauty.  Do you feel this is a fair assessment and why do you feel that way?

I think we have decades or years of a “type” of model who is considered an exceptional beauty. When we look back at the history of modeling, the trend is fairly obvious, and then someone like Lauren Hutton comes along and breaks the mold. This has happened many times, and now I feel like photographers and editors have a wide range of the ideal beauty. But it is not just because you are “pretty” in an average way, you have to be exceptional to win their eyes, hearts and minds. It is not as obvious anymore but I think we know it when we see it. Creative people are inspired by visual elements and a model is part of the vision.

Models are often discovered at a young age and expected to conduct themselves as adults before their peers.  What do you consider too young to model?

I will comment on this subject in a general way because we are talking about young human beings who are individual and should be managed in that manner. My experience has always been that to model in New York City or Paris on a full time basis, you should be able to really handle all aspects of your life on your own, personal and professional. I would never expect a 14-year-old to do that and I am not comfortable with models starting in a large market that young. The pressure is too much and the rate of failure is too great. I prefer they start outside of their hometown a little bit at 16, if they are truly ready, inside and out or a show season after a bit of experience. They should not quit high school, or start home school or online classes immediately to be available to model. Once a model has been introduced to the right people in the business, the business dictates the decisions about the timing. The models family background, maturity, as well as confidence, also determine when the time is right.

I don’t mean because you are in the business of modeling you should dictate the next step, I mean the demand of jobs and the level of people who are asking to work with the model qualify and determine the work and the career choices. That is the best determination. This is like a layered cake, and if you try to work on the top before you have secured the foundation the cake will collapse.

I am not always the most popular when holding my clients back until they are ready, as teenagers they think they are ready. My experience has made me very aware of this incredibly competitive business of beauty and I want them to be as successful as possible.  Age matters and timing is everything.

Models are commodities easily replaced.  How do maintain your sense of humanity with the models when operating in such a money-focused environment?

I never see my clients as easily replaced. I truly see them as a brand from the beginning. We may fall short, but if I downgrade my efforts to less, I am not working hard enough for them. In the industry, yes, others exist who can do the job and we are all hyper aware of that element. How you do the job determines your demand. At some point, agents, casting and scouting are a silent support, and it comes down to the model. Period.

It is easy for me to be a part of their development, as I love the challenge of starting a new model.  When I talk to them about staying grounded and not letting it all go to their heads, I lead by example. Being vulnerable and not expecting perfection is part of life and when grooming new talent it helps to show it. The world is money focused, that is unavoidable, but it isn’t the almighty power unless you allow it to be. Slowly we see leaders who lead from a deeper place. It may not be obvious, but the true stars in any field are very relaxed at what they do and make it look effortless. The truly talented are authentic, honest, and gracious. They make it all seem easy, but they have found their center and have fun with what they do at the same time.

The money is great in this business. There is a lot to make and a lot at stake for that reason, but your work really should be your passion or you may be blocked from doing your best, and certainly not happy. I try to be a mentor and advise along the way.

Why did you want to get involved with the new show Scouted on E!?

I can’t comment on the show until it airs. So we shall see…

You recently established your own modeling agency Trudi Tapscott Model Management.  What do you feel you can offer that is different to other modeling agencies?

My experience. I wanted to create a scouting and development company in the United States that focused on teenagers who had true potential and not charge them money up front. There is a business model in the US that was created years ago and has been very lucrative but created false hopes and did not teach what the business was really about. Charging young girls a lot of money for modeling classes, or makeup classes or walking classes to prepare them for modeling which they do not fit the requirements for is irresponsible and taking advantage of them and their parents. If you want to help your daughter with her confidence by putting her in a modeling class, that is a different subject. However, to promise a model who is 5’6” that she should take a class and pursue modeling is unrealistic.

I scout and I work with Erin Olson, who scouts in Utah, and once we find someone with potential we work with them one on one to prepare them for the real world of modeling. I manage their careers and placement with models worldwide.

I wanted to accumulate all of my experience and pass it on in a meaningful, and hopefully, profitable way.

Why do you think models such as Stella Tennant, Raquel Zimmermann and Edita Vilkeviciute, to name but a few, value and appreciate your judgment so highly?

That is kind of you to say. Actually, it is mutual respect and time that creates trust as well as appreciation. I was very fortunate while at VOGUE magazine to be surrounded by the top people in all areas, and that includes models. I cherish that experience, and it is when I first met Stella and Raquel.

At DNA I had the opportunity to be a part of the team that managed them.  My relationship with Edita developed beyond business and it is extra special to me. It is a unique experience to speak about someone all day, and in order to do that with passion, you really need to know what is important to them so the goals are met. It is an immense responsibility to manage their relationships with their clients and make good choices. Being a model manager is an all-encompassing job and includes business and their personal well being. I take that very seriously.