The View magazine had a very nice chat with Christel Vatasso, the director of Ford Models Paris. We talked about how she rolled into the business and her career, the team, a typical Ford model, and her opinion on industry topics.
TV: Tell us about your life before entering the fashion/model world.
CV: I grew up in Paris till my seventh. I was in an artsy environment due to the friends of my parents. Around my 14th, I started going out, I was passionate by the 40’s –50’s period and I was really into this style. Then hip hop arrived in Paris and this movement was really intense so I went into it! Music and fashion was and is still my passion. Since I was young, I have been inspired by the “beauty”, beauty of life , people , arts …
TV: When and where did you rolled into the fashion world?
CV: I started to collect magazines from 1987, and did a lot of collages from them. After art studies I had my first kid. I had to find a job and I did an intern job at the Magazine Parents (a magazine for kids and parents). On the same floor was the creative team of the magazine FEMINA. They hired me at the photo department. Two women helped me grow in this magazine, Maureen Auriol for the photo and Franka De Mailly for the fashion. I stayed five years, in the end I was doing all the fashion and beauty production and casting. Then moved to the magazine Numero to do the casting. It was an amazing opportunity. Babeth Djian, the editor in chief supported me a lot. After that I worked at LA Mode en Image, doing casting for shows. I worked three years at Management Artists Organization, an agency for photographers, casting, and production. I came back to Numero. Then Veronique Rampazzo, the Head Booker of Marilyn agency hired me for Marilyn as Image agent, stayed for five years. In 2010 I had been hired as Head Booker of Women Management Paris. A tough experience for three years. I decide to leave and two months after hired by Natalie Smith from Ford NYC to set up the Ford Paris agency.
TV: You have more than 20 years experience in the fashion world, can you take us through that?
CV: It’s a long way! A road made of difficulties and nice moments. Patience and willing. There is so much to know and it’s always new situations to deal with. It’s very exciting.
TV: Then one of the largest and most prestigious agencies in the world calls, asking if you would be interested to start the Paris office?
CV: I am passionate when Ford called me, it was obvious for me to start this new challenge. I made my team easily as I knew exactly the people I want to work with. Ford as been created in 1946 by Eileen Ford and it was important for them to have an agency in Europe, Paris, as it’s the HEART of fashion.
TV: Tell us about the team and what they do.
CV: There are four agents: Jeremy Kouyaté and Giorgia Grosso, they take care of the development board, new faces, and editorials. Arnaud Valois is mainly on editorial and main campaigns. Justine Floerchinger is doing commercial jobs. Pascal Loperena is our Artistic Director and he is taking care of the Talents Board as well.We created this department to represent different type of talents, like DJ’s, actors, etc. And finally, assistants who help us a lot in all our tasks.
TV: As a director, I can imagine that your job is completely different than an agent or booker. Can you share about what you do and how your day/week look like?
CV: As director I am supervising everything. I take the decisions regarding the Paris office. I manage the team and I organize the schedule for the year with the PAP and Haute couture shows. I am working on creatives projects to increase the fame of Ford and our models. I am scouting as well in Europe and Russia and so much more 🙂
TV: Let’s talk about the industry. What are the biggest differences between when you just got started and today?
CV: The industry is more industrial. There are more collections, more stores, with the big brands, the fashion is more democratic. Also the street style with social media changed a lot to the business. Everybody can influence everybody! For a model there is more competition and to pop up from the crowd they need a strong personality. Style, talent, fun. People are looking more and more for a “personnage”, a special girl.
TV: What makes Ford models unique? What sets them apart from the rest? What sets the Ford Models agency apart from other agencies?
CV: First of all, Eileen Ford. She was an incredible woman with a real vision. She was exigent and really involved in the career of her models. This is the soul of Ford. Classic but edgy, with real management of the models. A model from Ford, is a model with class, beauty, and style.
TV: There has been a huge increase in new model agencies, many of which started by people without agent/booker experience nor have an established network. How does this effect your business and reputation?
CV: It’s true that there is more and more people in this business and more models but at the end of the day, it’s still difficult to create a top model and it’s a long process. The network of a strong agency with experienced agents will make the difference.
TV: In your view, what should be the proper career-path for an agent? Start at the mailroom, pay their dues, etc?
CV: For me there is not a specific career path, but I really think the curiosity is the main thing. To be passionate, diplomatic, and understand the rules of the business. To have a positive and good behavior helps a lot.
TV: Can you share about how you and Ford models utilize social media? How important is it for you?
CV: We have a blog. A Facebook page and Instagram accounts. It’s really important and we pay attention, and looking for creatives ideas for the future as the importance of the social media will be bigger and bigger.
TV: There has been a debate going on about real magazines and digital/online magazines. Many people who are siding with the former, saying the latter are fake and not worth it. How do you look to all of that?
CV: For me there is a place for both. Me, I am old school, I like magazines and the paper as I like vinyl! Those are two different uses.
TV: What can we expect from the Paris office in 2015?
CV: Success and Happiness forever!
TV: How do you relax?
CV: I am a single mum, have three kids, two boys who are 19 and 17, and one girl of 11, and two cats so I am very occupied! I listen to music, hang out with friends, thinking about artistic projects…
TV: Thank you Christel for this great interview.
Interview has been minimally edited to keep authenticity.
Check out the Ford Models website.