This week the story of 20year old model Chloe Ayling who was lured into a fake modelling gig in Italy shocked the nation.
We asked Damien Morley, owner of one of europes most successful model agencies GIRL Management what his thoughts were on the ordeal.
Our candid Q&A with Morley is as below.
Q. As a model agency owner – what precautions do you take to protect you clients ?
We are contacted literally hundreds of times a day by companies and individuals looking to book models. Some times they want a specific model and some times they are looking to fill a brief. It is one of the many jobs of the agency to decipher which of these jobs and/or clients are legitimate and which aren’t.
The general rule is, If there is any doubt, don’t book it. That said we do have a rigorous process that we adhere to for each and every booking. Any legitimate company will have information in the public domain. We do company searches, director searches and electoral role searches to determine for sure whether the company is legitimately trading as they would have suggested to us. We also meet clients and insist we visit their place of business. If we are unhappy with anything, we do not work with the client.
In addition to these searches we seek previous client and model testimonies and we will chaperone models on assignments with new clients for a period of time.
We require a lot of information from companies we work with and the individuals associated with them. No serious client or creative will refuse to sign a booking form. If anyone refuses to sign a booking form and provide us with details we request. It is our view that they can not be trusted.
A large number of our models are young women aged 18 to 22, as a father of two girls myself I would never take a risk with the safety of my girls and neither would I with anyone that works with us. We have a duty of care that myself and the team at GIRL Management take very seriously.
Q. What will the Chloe Ayling ordeal mean for the modelling industry ?
For us and those that operate as we do, there will be no change.
Unfortunately the industry has changed drastically since the feminist lobby against the Mens Lifestyle magazines. When large publishers controlled the industry there was a great respect for models and the work they conducted. Models were surrounded by large teams of male and female professionals and empowered. The legacy of the feminist war on this profession has forced big publishers to release their brands and they have fallen in to the hands of people looking to exploit models.
There is also a growing number of so called photographers that don’t want to be subjected to our checks or booking forms. They buy a £300 camera and set up a Facebook page preying on the dreams of young women. Their advice to new models is always be independent. Work directly for cash and “control your own career”. The cliches like “no one will work as hard for you as you will” are regurgitated over and over. The fact is, that’s not true. We have the personnel, legal backing and relationships with big clients that is impossible for a model to achieve on their own.
A model with a reputable agency is always better protected legally and physically than a model without an agent or one with an agency that is unproven.
There is no barrier to enter this industry. As I previously mentioned, people are setting up “agencies” on social media and others claim to be photographers. Many are simply unqualified and a large number are dangerous. This extends very much to all sectors, fashion, commercial and glamour. Anywhere that provides access to models.
I am calling for legislation within the modelling industries. To own and run a modelling agency there needs to be strict guidelines for companies to adhere to with severe punishments for those who fail to do so. You can not underestimate the severity of what can happen to models lured to assignments on false pretences due to negligence.