In anticipation of fashion week, Models.com has just released a brand new update to its women's rankings. Joan Smalls keeps her spot at the head of the Top 50 list; Saskia de Brauw,
Models.com includes separate lists to recognize models who make bank (Money Girls), demonstrate high fashion staying power (Industry Icons) and distinguish themselves through their commercial sex appeal (Top Sexiest). The rankings have been around for a long time (a dedicated tFS thread for the Top 50 was first established in 2005) and are updated twice a year, ahead of the New York shows, serving as a snapshot of the modeling industry at any given time.
To learn more about how the list was compiled and get some insight into the latest modeling trends, we spoke with Kristen Bolt, Production Manager at Models.com.*
theFashionSpot: Congrats on putting out new rankings today! It seems like a lot of work… What's the process?
Kristen Bolt: Thank you!! Basically we have a list of requirements in order to be even on the Top 50 and we narrow it down from there. It's a lot of meetings. And spread sheets.
tFS: When did you start working on this round of rankings?
KB: Well it's always done before each NY show season. It starts in the summer, making lists and then waiting for the campaigns to roll out. Which starts in July-ish.
tFS: Do you consult with any people outside of Models.com (agents or casting directors) or do you work primarily internally?
KB: We primarily work internally, but we also ask the agents to make sure they have their models' pages on our site updated. We primarily go off those pages, so agents are always aware and make sure we are informed of everything happening and important things to come.
tFS: Do agents ever try to advocate for their girls? To sway the decision one way or another?
KB: Of course, it's their job. But it's all on paper and we always say, a girl isn't set in stone. If something big comes out, she can always be moved to reflect that.
tFS: People on the Internet can be sooo fanatical about models.
KB: Yes, especially on tFS.
tFS: Yeah, people get so involved. Are you guys like that when you put together the lists? Do you all have personal favorites or is it a little harder to be so obsessively invested when you work for the site?
KB: Yeah, we aren't. LOL. I mean, if like our favorites were on there — it would be like Frankie and Missy Rayder at number one. We try and be fair and accurate. And also there is editorial perspective, but we do this all day everyday so it becomes more calculated and less fan gurl.
tFS: Who do you see as the primary audience for the lists?
KB: Clients abroad for sure. A lot of clients not in the U.S. (and some in the U.S.) will only book a girl on the Top 50, so we take that into consideration when removing. We don't like to remove. We wanted this Top 50 to be more relevant and we revamped Money List, and the Hot List has been great because there are so many different types of successful models. It's good to show that just because you are not on the Top 50 doesn't mean you aren't relevant.
tFS: What trends have you been spotting in modeling? What's "the look"? "Cool editorial"?
KB: Ehhh, I think cool these days is making $$$. Cool doesn't really do much for a model. It gets her in the door but the models that stick around have a well-rounded career. Andreea Diaconu is a great example. She's been around for years, worked her way up and now is the girl everyone wants to shoot. Older is cooler now.
tFS: And racial diversity?
KB: Racial diversity is an interesting subject. It's really a branding problem. And also the idea that if you have one black girl you can't have another.
tFS: What do you mean about it being a branding problem?
KB: Well, it's really up to the brands. Casting directors can do their best, but they need to represent the brand.
tFS: Yeah. By my quick count it looks like just three of the Top 50 girls are black?
KB: We are just reflecting who is cast in the industry. It would be a little weird for us to add someone in. Having said that, we have Joan Smalls at one and we hoped that would send a message of diversity support to the industry. And she earned it. Putting someone on a list just because of their race isn't really a good reason either.
tFS: Does Models.com have a perspective on the Model Alliance's pending child model legislation?
KB: We are all about Sara Ziff and anything that changes the way people are treated in this industry for the better can't be bad. My own personal view is that a lot of girls are lucky to be able to pay for college, etc. And some truly love modeling and have supportive parents/agents and this new law will make it very difficult for them to get hired under 18. But it might be worth protecting those that aren't in that situation — which are many. Also, if a brand wants a girl, they will just pay the fine. And it might just turn into a new hierarchy, but we'll see. Hope for the best.
tFS: What do you mean by a new hierarchy?
KB: Well, a girl is a new type of special if a brand is willing to use her and just pay the fine. Ideally everyone will mind their P's and Q's, though.
*The conversation took place over Gchat and has been edited for clarity.