Q & A with NEXT Model Management Founder Faith Kates

With fashion month just around the corner, I thought this interview I did with modeling industry icon Faith Kates would add some balanced insight into the world of modeling.

Faith Kates is a modeling industry legend. She started NEXT Model Management in 1989. Recently, we sat down to talk all things modeling. Needless to say, it was a great learning experience. Enclosed are few snippets from our conversation. And to Faith and the people at NEXT, thank you!


Faith: Realistically, there's so many girls that have gotten ruined because they come the first season, they're not ready to do those shows and they do them. And the second season they're like, 'but she couldn't walk last season.' You know our job as agents is to prepare these models to get them out there, so that they do their job perfectly. ...we want to get them out there and we want them to know how to walk. I always say if you can get them a couple of good shows so they have some confidence. Think about being young from Latvia...this is the first time you've ever been on airplane and you walk out from behind the stage. You walk out and you're in shoes this high (gestures to a 5" stiletto) and there's a thousand people looking at you with cameras flashing. Think about that very first moment. See that's the story you should start talking to the girls about is, 'What do you fee like?' So it's a lot easier to do that exact thing in a smaller show and then another show and another show and then by the time you get to Prada, you got it.

Craig: So you might not necessarily try and book her for all the big shows?

Faith: Exactly. The first season is important but the second season is more important. Because the first season, lets say you got all the shows. You've got to keep them the second time. It's easy to get the first time. Now you have to do the editorial. Now you have to be out there the whole time. Because your only new once. (pause)

You are only a new girl once.

...you have to really know how to pace it. You have to know what you'll be able to sustain and not sustain.


Craig: How important is editorial?

Faith: Very important.

Craig: More important than campaigns?

Faith: It's all about VOGUE. If you are a VOGUE girl you are everywhere. Go into VOGUE magazine. You want to learn something, go in Vogue look at all the girls that are in the well. Go in Anna J, any one of them, Catherine, those are the girls that are doing all the campaigns. Those are girls that are in all the shows.


Faith: ...I think that in our world...when a girl starts, if you have one of the three or 4 really important photographers behind you, that's the girls that are making it. So if you have Steven Meisel, you have Mario Testino, you have a Craig McDean, you have a David Sims... you have one of those guys behind you, you're in.

Craig: So that's the goal then?

Faith: That's the goal.

Craig: Is that how you view your goal, moreso the photographer?

Faith: It is. You could walk in 1 show. I could get you to walk in Prada, you can walk in Gucci, you can walk in 1 show. But you didn't do good in that show. Or you know. You had the exclusive for the good show. I've seen girls have an exclusive to Prada and you never see them again. They weren't so great in the show. But at least if you are in a picture, it's out there. and it's out there for at least a couple of months and people keep seeing it. It's different. It's on the shelf its always there...with magazines while they're sitting out there, people are able to take them home and they keep looking and looking and looking at them....

Craig: The photographers are the key then?

Faith: The photographers and the magazines have all the power. Designers are important, don't get me wrong. They are very important. But I think it goes first with if you can get to the photographer. There are some girls that are really photographers girls.


Craig: Does a girl with a genuine appreciation for fashion and clothing fare better in this industry?

Faith: You don't have to care about clothes...I don't think you have to love clothes. I don't think you have to dislike clothes. I just think you have to know how to wear clothes and know what feels good and right on you.

Craig: But like a girl who can get in touch with the artistic aesthetic of a Yohji Yamamoto because she's interested in style?

Faith: I don't think that matters.

Craig: It doesn't matter?

Faith: Not at all. I don't think it matters at all. I think that girl understands better what, and appreciate more what she's wearing but I don't think that that makes her a better model or makes her any better at what she does because she understands the dress


Craig: How important is press as opposed to campaigns, editorials in magazines, and runways to a models career?

Faith: It depends upon the model. So there's a "high fashion model" lets call her that's doing all the campaigns and doing Vogue and doing all the shows. It doesn't matter. Because for her, her bible is the editorial, the Vogues of the world, and doing runway.

Then there's a whole other group of girls that, they are famous because of the press. They probably were not really famous models. But they became famous because they dated somebody that was famous, they were in the right place at the right time, they dated a basketball player, there was something about them that made them famous.

...There's 2 different kinds of famous. There's fashion famous which is what every model, I hate to say it , aspires to. They aspire to being in the well of American Vogue, they aspire to being photographed by Craig McDean, and David Sims, Steven Meisel, photographers Bruce Weber, like that.

And then there are girls that you know that their dream was to be in Sports Illustrated or to be in Victoria's Secret. Its a very different kind of famous and its a different kind of fashion. So its completely different. So there's two types of fame.


Craig: ...how important is the internet going to be to a models career as opposed to print publications?

Faith: I think we've all been struggling through it for the last 7 or 8 years. I don't see the print magazine or the newspaper or even the written book going away. As hard as I try to read and kindle it was the same as turning the pages. I think the internet becomes important because every day you can change it.

I do believe that the print magazine never goes away. I don't think VOGUE ever goes. I think that they are going to do business a bit differently.


Craig: The biggest names you've developed from scratch?

Faith: Milla Jovovich, Molly Sims, Joy Bryant, Diane Kruger (the actress), Angie Everhart, Anja Rubick, Anna Jagodzinka, Catherine McNeil, and Jessica Miller.


Elaine said...

This was such an interesting interview. I enjoyed reading it. There's so much about the fashion industry, modeling, and photography that we don't understand.


KP said...

amazing interview, she seems very intense but super knowledgeable. xo

Anonymous said...

Great interview with a lot of insight. It's interesting to see how Next positions their models and the way they distinguish fame and success. I'd love to see more interviews like this, thanks!!

Brigadeiro said...

What an insightful interview! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and am envious of Faith's gorgeous hair ;)

Jess said...

I really enjoyed reading this. Lots of interesting information, and she sure knows what she's talking about.

Natalie Suarez said...

liked reading this, very good interview! :)



Karl-Edwin Guerre said...

This is a GREAT interview! Hope you continue interviewing the key players in the modeling world and keep sharing the insight.,,, and the photo is HOT!!!

Anonymous said...

gorgeous as always darling
love it, great inspiration
thanks for sharing

check out my blog @

Heather said...

Loved this post! Thank you!!


Ikemba and Melodie said...

Wow Craig, thanks you so much for this insightful and interesting interview.AMAZING BLOG!!


Mcmaris said...

Interesting Interview!! Inspirational as well. She seems like a powerhouse! Her hair is gorgeous as well!!!!!!!

Danielle said...

I love when you do interviews, so much goes on behind the scenes that we don't usually see! Thanks!

Vinda Sonata said...

this is very acknowledging. thank you for sharing, Craig.


Karen said...

Great interview Craig. I love how your blog has grown into THE place for the latest model information and photos. So many bloggers source your pics - they really sprout legs once you post them here.

Karen (you took a pic of me for style.com at Highline) keep up the good work x

Antonio Barros said...

Great interview!!!


Isabelle said...

This was very interesting to read, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Revealing, but it disappoints me to see the industry not even pretend that it matters that the models have minds or personalities about what they're wearing or the history/design behind it. I would have hoped that a model who wasn't ignorant would be more valuable, that she might be able to use her knowledge to interpret the clothes, but it sounds like Ms Kates has never found that to be the case.

Anonymous said...

hi i'm from poland so...Anna Jagodzinska and Anja Rubik is correct ;)

Shopomore said...

Thanks you for the interview. So inspiring.

Asep m

Heavycats said...

a very great interview

Heavycats said...

e very great interview

I V E S T I T I ! said...

Thanks for sharing...


Callahan Brooks said...

I love reading through your interview! x

SayHello said...

that's an older interview such as the interview with the storm founder...

Jasmin said...

I love NEXT's girls. They have some of the biggest names of the industry--Karlie, Arizona, Abbey, Anja...etc. Great post!


Justine said...

I really love these interviews. I think your blog is becoming a valuable resource to photographers and those who aspire to work in the fashion or photography industry. I don't shoot fashion, but I find a lot of the things that other photographers believe in, are universal to even the most obscure, specialized photographers of other genres. I would love to see an interview with photographer's assistants!! Keep it up <3

Find missing DLL said...

You helped me a lot indeed and reading this your article I have found many new and useful information about this subject

Morita Vargas said...

ceGreat interview!

Unknown said...

very interesting interview with a lot of insight. love this


Julie Ling said...

I really appreciate that you are sharing this sort of rare and very valuable information.

It really brings more perspective on modeling that I sort of guessed.

Please do more of these interviews in the future!

Julie Ling
f ashioncont a gious


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