Profile Model Management was established in 1986 by former booking agent EJ Steele. Steele’s career began as a booker with several of the top modelling agencies. This helped Steele gain valuable insight into what clients want, and more importantly, what an agency needs to deliver on the client’s request.
Starting Profile with just £5000, the agency grew steadily through the Eighties. Teaming up with model booker Christopher Chalvet de Recy in 1993, Profile built on its existing success. The addition of de Recy was a crucial one, as his years of experience proved to be invaluable in cultivating Profile’s growing reputation.
Profile is what is termed a ‘boutique agency’: an agency that is smaller than the blockbuster names of Elite, IMG, Storm et al. It does not have a banner ‘big name’, but rather than this being a shortcoming, this is actually the agency’s key strength.
By being a boutique agency, Profile has been free to actively pursue and nurture modelling talent on its own terms, free of the constraints a large name would place on their time and resources. Profile’s reputation is secured on providing the industry with the ‘hard grafters’: the models who are not necessarily instantly recognisable or household names, but are in fact the backbone of the fashion industry. Their models populate the world’s catwalks, work comfortably between the shifting demands of editorial, beauty and campaign shoots for clients such as Vogue and Loewe.
The agency specialises in providing editors and photographers with smart, editorial girls whose looks translate across continents. In the world of modelling, there is no shame in anonymity. Indeed, in a profession where a model simply works more if they are able to adapt themselves to whatever mood the client wants to create, not being a ‘name’ possesses a distinct advantage. You can, quite literally, become anybody.
We are living in a ‘celebutante’ age where image and recognition are the chief form of currency. But Profile, along with other boutique agencies dotted around the globe, has spotted the necessity of signing girls who can work under the radar. You may not be as instantly recognisable as a Moss or a Bundchen, but this is no bad thing. Without the added pressure of building and maintaining a public persona (exhausting in itself), you are free to get on with the job in hand.
The big names may make big bucks, but they pay for it: in loss of privacy, extreme pressure to perform at all times, and worse of all – the nagging suspicion that there is someone younger and more attractive just waiting to take your place. Make even one mistake, and that can be enough to undo years of hard work. The subsequent pressure on an agency to maintain that name is immense.
Where a boutique agency like Profile excels, is that they have the freedom to explore new creative directions with their models – there is the time and space to do so. Profile’s models are the face of editorial, high-fashion magazine spreads all over the world. To use a magazine metaphor, if Kate Moss and her like are the headlines, the girls at Profile are the main story.
The fashion industry’s survival rests on the ability of boutique agencies like Profile to seek out new talent. Without this ‘new model army’, the fashion world would visibly struggle and flounder. These girls are the lifeblood of the industry and that is how Profile has continued to operate so successfully over the last 20 years. They know that being small is not the same as acting small. They have thrived on providing the fashion world with what it so desperately needs: not a ‘name’, not a celebrity with good legs, but a reliable, adaptable, professional model.
The increasing trend to use stars to sell magazines may means less cover work all round, but there is always the need for someone who can sell a fashion story with wit, candour and professionalism. The age of the celebrity may not be showing any signs of slowing down, but the ongoing work of agencies such as Profile shows that there is always a market for models. They may not fill column inches in the weekly gossip magazines, but in the fashion arena, these girls are absolutely and fundamentally indispensable.