Premier Models was founded over 25 years ago by former model Carole White and her brother, Chris Owen. Premier now has over 200 models on its books, and has over the years helped to shape the careers of Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Kirsty Hume and Christy Turlington. Premier has proven its name within the fashion industry as a credible and authoritative presence.
This impressive pedigree has established Premier as one of the leading agencies in Europe. Its ‘Main Board’, which deals with established talent, can count successful campaigns and high-profile runway work among its models’ achievements.
However, Premier is just as well known for ‘Premier Special’, a division for boosting the profile of clients from the world of entertainment. Where Premier differs from other agencies is that it has focused on the cross-over of these non-fashion clients into the world of high-fashion, with personal appearances, advertising and PR for major brands. No better example of the success of this strategy can be seen in the career of one of Premier Special’s most notable signings: Cheryl Cole.
Cheryl’s meteoric rise from Popstars wannabe to X Factor judge has seemingly occurred with heady speed and meeting very little resistance. Of course, anyone who moves this far and fast up the ladder has done so with a lot of hard work behind the scenes. To quote Judy Garland, there is no such thing as an ‘overnight sensation’.
Cheryl has, with the team at Premier, manoeuvred her budding fame from being the tomboy-ish one in Girls Aloud to the status of household name. It is doubtful that there is anyone left in the UK who is not at least familiar with Cheryl Cole the brand – the face alone sells it.
With the fashion know-how accrued at Premier, Cheryl has graduated from girl-band fodder to style headliner. Premier has made sure that her style is at the forefront of every article written about her. Her wardrobe choices are exhaustively covered in the fashion press – just five years ago, editors would never have even considered including her on any ‘Best Dressed’ List - now she is at the very top of the fashion tree.
If you want proof what Premier can do for a celebrity’s image, watch any episode from the last series of ‘X Factor’. Premier have not focused on Cheryl’s beauty (which would have been the obvious route to take), but on her personality. It is Cheryl’s charisma is what makes her so watchable – she outshines everybody, and that includes the contestants. Now very much a fixture on the talent show, Simon Cowell has ensured that she stays for at least another series. He knows that ITV have a stellar selling-point in Cheryl: home-spun Geordie warmth combined with killer heels have proved an irresistible siren call to the British public.
Premier’s other success stories include signing a German model called Diane Heidkruger. When she wanted to go into acting, she became Diane Kruger. So far her acting credits include working alongside Nicolas Cage and Brad Pitt. Models-turned-actresses are not meant to build such an impressive resume so quickly. Along with a long-standing affiliation with Chanel, It’s proof that the Premier formula works. Fashion sense + PR savvy = a client who is never out of the spotlight for long. Applying lessons learnt in the modelling world (eg: pro-active scouting for new talent; exploring and tailoring off-shoots of opportunity), Premier have taken the worlds of entertainment and fashion and made one indistinguishable from the other. Where the two used to be on friendly terms but very much separate, they now co-exist quite happily: think of Oscar night if you still need to be convinced that fashion and celebrity have never been closer. But Premier has recognised that a strong image in itself is not enough: if you want to stay in the limelight, you better have something to say that is worth listening to.
What Premier knows best is that if you want to get your message across, a little charm goes a long way. Premier has used its knowledge and influence in the fashion world, not only to secure a strong base of modelling talent, but has actively shaped the way we view celebrities. With the momentous success of Premier girls like Cheryl Cole, Diane Kruger, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Lucy Liu comes the advent of a new kind of celebrity. He or she may not be perfect, but they have an edge to them, which makes them different and that in turn makes them interesting. They are not pre-packaged and media-trained to within an inch of their lives – the best signings at Premier prove that vulnerability and imperfection capture the public’s interest like nothing else.
Premier has ensured that the cult of celebrity, while never going out of fashion exactly, continues in a new direction. Taking lessons learnt from the modelling industry, Premier has homed in on the importance of being earnest. It’s compelling, refreshing and very, very seductive.