What happened to Trump Model Management


Less than five years ago, you would hear phones ringing off the hook in a large airy white office in Soho, which was home to one of the most successful New York modelling agencies, Trump Model Management. You would see a staff of eight to ten hard working bookers looking after a roster of 150 models, a pretty standard operation. 

In October 2017, the phones rang less. On November 9, they flatlined. All over New York, people were walking around teary-eyed at the news of the election win, but at Trump Models's office, things were even bleaker. 

 Trump Model Management's 8700sqm Soho office

Trump Model Management's 8700sqm Soho office

 Barbora Bruskova at Trump Models

Barbora Bruskova at Trump Models

 

Prior to the election, the models and bookers of the agency had no affiliation with Donald Trump the person, "It was just another name, like Ford," said Sam Ypma, a former model from Canada who signed in 2011. "No one thought about what it meant."

In late Summer 2016, management sent an email to its models: "They basically said that while the agency was owned by the Trump Organization, it has nothing to do with Trump's election or campaign." Yet as the election grew closer, lines became quite clearly drawn in the sand. A Trump model from Germany, Hartje Andresen, recalls going to castings: "I would sometimes hear things from other models like, 'How is it working for that asshole?' or 'Did he grab your pussy too?' To which I had to explain that I don't really work for Trump directly, and that I have a good relationship with my agents, all the while feeling deeply humiliated and ashamed."

Other models didn't last much longer, and then the bookers left too. Maggie Rizer, one of the supermodels who made up Trump's Legends department, publicly announced her departure in an Instagram post on November 6th, two days before the election. "As a woman, a mother, an American and a human being, I cannot wake up Wednesday morning being the least bit related to the Trump brand," she wrote. "I had become friends with my agent, Corinne Nicolas, the company's President, and I felt a sense of loyalty to her.... At the end of the day I should never have joined an agency owned by someone I didn't respect, that was my mistake."

Staff and model departures aside, the real reason for the agency's closure is without a doubt - lack of business. Days after large retailers such as Nordstrom and T.J. Maxx dropped Trump-associated products from their shelves, members of the fashion industry started calling for a boycott of Trump Models. Everyone from hair stylists to casting directors to makeup artists are pledging to cease all future working projects with the models represented by the agency. In January, a hair stylist, Tim Aylward, announced on his Facebook page that he was personally refusing to work alongside Trump Models on any projects.

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"I thought the whole [election] thing was a joke," said Atong Arjok, a former Trump model who is also a refugee, having immigrated from Sudan to California as a child. "It was hard to wrap my mind around. This is a name that opposes everything I am."

Ex-president of Trump Models, Corinne Nicolas, has recently launched The Model CoOp in New York, a unique modelling agency environment representing already established models, some of which are originally from Trump. 

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