Secrets Of The Supermodels, By The Woman Who Knows Them Best

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  • Naomi Campbell called her ‘mum’, she turned down Kate Moss, and now the founder of Premier Model Management, Carole White, is spilling the secrets of the supermodels in a new tell-all memoir. She speaks exclusively to Marie Claire

    Linda, Claudia, Naomi… the 90s was the decade of the supermodel and one woman was at the heart of this fashion revolution from the very beginning. The brilliantly outspoken Carole White, now 64, is arguably the most successful model agent of her generation, credited with launching the careers of Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Claudia Schiffer amongst others. Did we also mention that she turned down Kate Moss for being too short? Well, you can’t win ‘em all.

    Now, in Carole’s new tell-all memoir, Have I Said Too Much? My Life In and Out of the Model Agency (£20, Century) she lifts the lid on the secrets of the supermodels. We caught up with her to find out more…

    On the truth

    ‘The reality is not all about getting our nails painted and going to parties. We’re often cold-calling brands, encouraging them to get interested in our product – the model. It looks glamorous, but essentially we’re in an office negotiating the best deal.’

    On rejecting Kate Moss

    ‘I laugh about it when I think back now, but what a bad move! She was brought in to the agency early on in her career, but I turned her down because she was too short. Every agent has a story like that, but you have to stand by your decisions – sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong. There’s always another girl round the corner.’

    On supermodel TLC

    ‘I’m the go-to person when the models are in trouble. When they’re young, they don’t always understand that it’s a career and we have to get them to grow up quickly. It’s our job to prepare these girls – who have never travelled before, have horrible dietary habits and don’t want to be far away from their boyfriends – that their life will change. But if they become a hot new thing, in a year or two they could have enough money to buy their parents a house.’

    On Naomi Campbell

    ‘Of course she’s hard work, but she has a wicked sense of humour and when she’s funny, she’s really funny. We’ve had some laughs. Naomi has a strong personality and so have I, but our relationship worked for 17 years.’ [The pair later became estranged after a legal battle over royalties.]

    On dealing with rejection

    ‘Trying to become a model is like going for any job interview, except you’re judged on how you look, and that can be tough. We advise girls to keep trying. Once you get one job, you usually get the next because you grow in confidence.’

    On a changing industry

    ‘It’s more cut-throat now. In the 80s and 90s there was so much money floating around and far fewer models. So if you were a top model, you could name your price and clients would pay it. Nowadays they won’t wait for the girl. If she’s not available, they’ll find somebody else equally beautiful because there are so many models around.’

    On being star-struck

    ‘Nelson Mandela was the most amazing person I’ve ever met. Naomi introduced us at the launch of a luxury train line from Pretoria to Cape Town. He was lovely, very gentle and he had a great aura. It was a real pinch-yourself moment.’

    Have I Said Too Much? My Life In and Out of the Model Agency by Carole White is out now (£20, Century)

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