Tom Ford Favorite Jason Fedele on Those Gucci Ads and The Evolution of Fashion

Jason Fedele was part of the group of American models that dominated the runways in the nineties along with Mike Campbell, Scott Barnhill and Jason Shaw. He has fronted campaigns for Versace, Gucci, Lanvin  and Tommy Hilfiger in addition to appearing in numerous fashion bibles. Speaking from his home in Florida, Jason reflected on that magical moment in fashion.

Tell us about how you were discovered.

What’s funny is I did a shoot with Stephen Sprouse for the then unopened Club USA. It was a huge image that greeted patrons as they entered the club. But that didn’t kick-start any discovery. What did, happened a bit later and was straight out of a movie. I was walking down 20th Street in New York City, my hometown, and was discovered by renowned agent Rick Ferrari and Ingrid McAuliffe. As they walked past one of them shouted, “Hey, you look like one of our top models!” which is surprising because my hair, at the time, was long and down to my ass. I was in a heavy metal band at the time. For them to see that through all the mane is obviously what made them experts in their field. They were referring to Mike Campbell, with whom I share very similar looks. My reaction was of typical New York cynicism, “Oh yeah, I don’t feel like a top model” as i pulled out my empty pockets. I had just become unemployed and by divine intervention, the universe brought us together. I’m eternally grateful to them for the opportunity of a lifetime. Rick and I are still friends to this day.

Jason Fedele by Justin TeodoroYou were part of the group of American models that dominated the runways in the nineties along with Mike Campbell, Scott Barnhill and Jason Shaw. In hindsight what are your reflections on that time?

It was a magical moment that I’m certain we are all appreciative of. It was the last great generation of models both male and female. The camaraderie was strong as we all got along having spent a lot of time together throughout castings, shows, campaigns and editorials in all the major markets; New York, Paris, London and of course Milan. Most of us have remained friends since and Mike Campbell and myself are still best friends. Our running joke over the years has been “different mother, different father, same dog” with regard to our similarity. In fact, when Mike had his son, he had two black labs, Rio and Zoe. At that time, Zoe was too rambunctious for a newborn, naturally, she came and lived with me. So the joke became reality. Life works in magical ways. I’ve been extremely fortunate, thanks to modeling, to have traveled the world, meet amazing people and work with immensely talented artists. I’m filled with gratitude to the many people who provided invaluable wisdom particularly Calvin Klein, Tom Ford and Bethann Hardison for whom I have great respect. 

What would you say was the pivotal moment that changed the direction of your career?

I was fortunate that my career took off pretty fast. All of it is due to Calvin Klein who gave me my first big break. After a brief period of testing, he chose me to be the face of Calvin Klein for a 12 page spread in Vanity Fair. From the inside cover on, it was the pivotal campaign that jump started the fast and wild ride that afforded me so many fantastic jobs with Gucci, Versace, Hilfiger, etc. We had a close relationship and I understood his aesthetic. I was able to put his vision to the lens easily. My age had something to do with it I believe. I was a late bloomer in the world of fashion getting my break in the industry late at the age of 25. I had a little more real world experience than most, especially being a New Yorker. I understood the progressive nature of what was cool a bit more than the average Midwestern kid. That really helped me transcend into the Supermodel realm quickly. Tom Ford knew that as well which is why he made me his muse for so long during those amazing Gucci years. Tom and I developed an almost telepathic way of communicating. When you click with someone it’s easy to communicate in ways that allows the art to flow in its most raw, natural state.

You were a part of the pre-internet era. How do you think all of that compares to now in terms of social media and coaching?

The advent of technology, specifically social media, has radically changed the landscape of fashion and modeling as a whole. What was once a coveted, guarded process of discovery, grooming and managing of new talent for agents has flipped. No longer is there an exclusivity to models. Almost everyone has an Instagram account and if a prospect doesn’t have a ton of followers they aren’t considered. Instagram has become the litmus test for scalability and sellability. Kids today can brand and create their own cottage industry as brand ambassadors and cultivate their own businesses. Not to mention, the industry is predominantly celebrity driven. It definitely has marginalized the industry and has done away with the intimacy of creating individuality. Most insiders I’ve talked to agree, the business is not what it used to be. But isn’t that the story of technology? It supplants and replaces old ways of doing things with better (hopefully) and more efficient ways. On the other hand, it has reduced costs for agencies across the board. No longer are Polaroids or comp cards as necessary as they once were and the need for talent scouts is an antiquated job.

How did you deal with the pressures and scrutiny of the industry. Was it difficult for you?

It was probably more difficult for the industry than for me. I was a pain in the ass. Young, brash and fueled by ego, although I don’t carry regret, I do feel bad for the way I behaved in some situations and not taking my duties and responsibilities seriously enough. Since I was a bit older than the average kid, there wasn’t a lot of pressure or scrutiny that had an effect on me. Sure there was plenty of rejection, competition and the rigors of maintaining the “look” but for the most part, it was a lot of fun. I don’t think kids today will ever have the same experience as we did since most fashion houses are filled with corporatists and not artistic visionaries like Gianni or Calvin. There is so much history that these greats carried on and infused into their work. I think the pressures are different, albeit relative. I just didn’t feel them, it was not difficult getting paid huge sums of money to stand if front of a camera or walk a runway for 60 seconds.

Jason Fedele by Justin TeodoroWhat did you discover about yourself through modeling?

I discovered that I had a real, deep love for fashion. As a creative person, I loved the creative process, wearing the clothes and embodying what they represented. Watching the seamstresses ply their skill, designers scratch and replace months of work in an instant. Portray a story, a thought, an idea that was born in someones head and realized through you the model. It was very rewarding, gratifying and personal. Also, I have an androgynous side that was able to flourish in an overly sexualized industry. One of my favorite campaigns was for Gucci. We shot it in Palm Springs with legendary photographer, Mario Testino. Seated against a wall, I was wearing purple sparkle pants and, knowingly, I had my hands placed on the backs of my thighs with an erotic tone of suggestive sexual availability. I knew it would illicit desire and elevate the campaign to meet its expectations. Sex! It was always a joy to express myself in ways that were controversial, outrageous, anything that made the observer stop and remark.

What are you up to these days?

These days I enjoy quiet domestication on the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast of Florida. I work in government for a city owned performing arts hall as the Digital Media Director handling all facets of web design and development, social media and digital marketing. Music has always been a strong part of my life prior to modeling and continues to be. Like another dream life, I’ve been blessed to have been a professional musician for nearly 25 years. I write, produce and perform TV spots (jingles), record and tour with famous artists, most recently with the alt-rock band Seether. Occasionally I’ll get a call for a modeling gig that I’m always happy to do. I love fashion, the industry and the people I worked with and more importantly became friends with. It will always be a part of my soul, a love affair that will always have a place in my heart.

New York Model Management’s New Faces for Summer 2016

New faces are the life blood of the fashion industry, but behind every new face is a great team. From management to the agent to the scout who discovered said model, the road can be long and challenging. New York Model Management invests in each of their models through coaching, mentoring and acclimating new models to the industry. I spoke with Erin Scimeca, Director of Scouting and Chloe Rich, New Faces Agent about what it takes to make it as a model and their Model Camp as well as getting a preview of some of their amazing new talent.


What does your role as Director of Scouting entail?

As the Director of Scouting, I am responsible for finding the new faces for our agency.  I either go out on the street and scout or I travel and arrange meetings with local agencies to find new talent for our agency.  I also work on the placement of our models in different markets.

Aside from the requisite physical attributes, what do you look for when scouting new faces?

Aside from the height, I look for something that is beautiful yet interesting – full lips, proper nose, good bone structure. But to me I find it really important to have the right attitude and personality! There are so many beautiful models out there that you need the personality to set yourself apart from the crowd. It really takes a special ability to light up in front of the camera and be able to do it all day long on set. I find that sometimes more important than anything else.

Tell us what excites you about the new faces signed to New York Model Management.

I love to see the girls go from young, shy, sometimes insecure teenagers into confident, beautiful women.  It is great to see the progression from the first time I see them to the full-time working model. I feel that the girls we have at New York Models form a great bond and become a part of a unique family and I love seeing them out there united together.  It’s great that despite the competition our girls all look out for each other.

What sets New York Model Management apart from other modeling agencies?

We don’t want to become a factory and therefore we keep a tight board and because of that it allows our agents to really get to know our models and be there for them.  We actually treat the girls like people and a part of our family and not just a number on the wall.  The agents spend time with the girls outside of the agency and take them to museums and art galleries or special events so that they can get to know them. We also have our Model Camp that is something no one else does, free, for our girls to learn more about the business.

Are there projects we can look forward to?

We have our summer Model Camp  in July.  It is a fun weekend for our new faces to learn more about the business.  They spend two nights at my home in Connecticut learning how to walk the runway, having photo shoots, hearing from guest speakers, yoga on the beach and so much more.  It is a great way for the girls to learn in a safe environment and for the girls to bond as well as get to know us.


How does the market and trends influence the decision process when considering new faces?

Trends will always be an influence – whether you are the extremely “beautiful model,” or the more unusual type, a group of diverse new faces will never not be in high demand. They have a great chance of breaking out into the industry as there are so many clients and all who have different needs.

What are the rookie mistakes new models make when signed to an agency?

When they don’t listen or they compare themselves to other models. If we suggest that a girl should wear something specific or part their hair in a certain way,  it is not because we don’t like them or their style. It is because what works for one girl may not work as well for another; they are all different. First impressions are important at the beginning of their careers, it is very competitive too and we want them to have the greatest chance to work as possible.



How were you discovered?

I was discovered when I was 14 on the street by a model scout from an agency in Rio De Janeiro. I was surprised and excited at the same time. This agency taught me basic modeling techniques that helped me to start my modeling career.

What music are you currently listening to?

Alex Clare – Damn Your Eyes, Vanessa Da Mata and Ben Harper – Boa Sorte (Good Luck) and Maverick Sabre – I Need

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

Telepathy. I love to make the people around me happy and the ability to understand what they’re thinking would enable me to bring more joy to my family, friends and colleagues.



How were you discovered?

I was discovered walking down the streets in the Dominican Republic by an agency named Ossygeno and right away I signed with them.

What’s your favorite modeling experience so far?

Thus far, it has to be when I attended this year’s Met Gala for Vogue and getting to meet so many amazing people and watch Nas and The Weekend perform together.

What music are you currently listening to?


If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

If I could have one superpower, it would definitely be to pause, fast forward and rewind time so I could be able to re-live the moments I cherish.



How were you discovered?

I was discovered at a Justin Bieber concert in my hometown, Des Moines, Iowa, when I was 13.

What’s your favorite modeling experience so far?

In June 2015 I was flown out to LA to do a shoot for Rihanna’s collaboration with Stance Socks. It was also my first job after finishing high school and becoming a full-time model, so needless to say it was a great start to this part of my career.

What music are you currently listening to?

I’m listening to a wide variety of music right now, mostly Anderson .Paak, Run the Jewels, Modern Baseball and the Hamilton soundtrack.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

I’ve always thought having telekinesis would be cool. Or being a human WiFi hotspot.

Elizabeth Morley


How were you discovered?

I was discovered by my current manager one night at the grocery store. I was wearing a sweatshirt and no makeup when he approached my dad and me.

What’s your favorite modeling experience so far?

I had a really fun photo shoot where I got to wear a wetsuit and hold a spear in one hand and a fish in another while balancing on a rock with waves crashing around my legs.

What music are you currently listening to?

Right now I am listening to a lot of the oldies such as the Beach Boys and Beastie Boys. I also like alternative music.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

Flying! I think it would be so cool to be able to fly wherever I wanted to go and see everything from a bird’s-eye view.

Eva B


How were you discovered?

I sent my pictures to my current mother agency in Holland. They invited me over, took some pictures and then asked me to come to their Model Camp, a five day camp with other girls who want to be models and that’s how it all started for me.

What’s your favorite modeling experience so far?

I don’t really have one favorite experience, because this has been such an incredible journey for me with so many amazing experiences, especially the fact that I get to see so many beautiful places and travel around the world.

What music are you currently listening to?

Michael Jackson, The Who, Joe Cocker and Beyonce.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

I think it would be a superhuman capacity to retain information. I feel like the mind is always underrated compared to physical powers and that knowledge is power. Also, I definitely want to go to university and a super mind would make that a lot easier.



How were you discovered?

I was discovered when I was 15 at a concert in my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.

What’s your favorite modeling experience so far?

My favorite experience in modeling so far has most definitely been the travel. I’ve lived in Singapore, New Zealand and Australia for months at a time, working and exploring. I’ve seen and experienced so much through modeling that I never want the journey to end.

What music are you currently listening to?

Music is what gets me through the day so I need it to be super upbeat and positive. I’m addicted to anything 80’s; my mom got me hooked on Daryl Hall and John Oats, The Police and Whitney Houston. Any artist from the 80’s is my current jam.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

Without a doubt, it would be the ability to fly. With all of the traveling I do, I could avoid airports plus see all of the beautiful scenery you miss while you’re on an airplane.



How were you discovered?

When I was 14 my friend took me to modeling classes at an agency in Riga where I was noticed by one of the agents.

What’s your favorite modeling experience so far?

My favorite modeling experience would be my very first job shooting for Italian Glamour in the south of France. I was styled as a grown-up Pippi Longstocking and had a lot of fun shooting the story.

What music are you currently listening to?

I’m listening to a lot of 90’s music; the good old tracks I grew up listening to. I love the 90’s!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

I wish I could fly or teleport, so I could travel faster, and don’t have to deal with all the people at airports.

Lily B


How were you discovered?

I was discovered at a New Year’s party by a woman who used to model. She sent my picture to her old agent who connected me with my current agency.

What’s your favorite modeling experience so far?

My favorite modeling experience so far was probably getting to do a big shoot in the penthouse suite of the Gramercy Park Hotel. It’s a five star hotel with the nicest room and I would never have had the chance to hang out in there if it weren’t for work.

What music are you currently listening to?

The Beatles, David Bowie, Amy Winehouse and 90’s Hip hop (especially Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Biggie) will  forever be my obsessions. They never get old for me

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

It would probably be shapeshifting because I think it would be a really cool party trick and I would be able to make myself tiny and get more room on the subway. Also, I’m not really flexible and I think it would be cool to get all stretchy.

Maddy W


How were you discovered?

My best friend, Alexis, sent pictures to The Agency Arizona.

What’s your favorite modeling experience so far?

Shooting the Chloé lookbook.

What music are you currently listening to?

Country music.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

My super power would have to be the ability to fly because who wouldn’t want to fly? That would be awesome!

Selena J


How were you discovered?

I was scouted in a mall in Florida.

What’s your favorite modeling experience so far?

They all mean a lot to me but if I was to choose just one, it would be shooting for Calvin Klein.

What music are you currently listening to?

A couple songs from Lil Uzi Vert Vs. The World.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

If I could have one super power it would have to be telepathy because I think it’s cool to be able to know what people are thinking and to communicate without speaking.



How were you discovered?

Back in my hometown, Byron Bay, my agent scouted me and my sister at a wedding. Not long after, I flew to Sydney to work on my book then straight to New York. It’s been the most wonderful roller coaster ever since.

What’s your favorite modeling experience so far?

Definitely working with Pat McGrath. I love shooting beauty and she would have to be the biggest inspiration and something I’ll remember forever.

What music are you currently listening to?

My taste in music changes so often, but right now Kyle Lionhart and Drake.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

If I had to choose one, it would be the ability to make magic happen. I’m pretty content with my life right now, but to have the power to effect the lives of those who aren’t, small changes or big, would be awesome.

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Model Audrey Marnay’s Raison d’Etre

The nineties ushered in a new aesthetic showcasing the uniqueness and individuality of models. Audrey Marnay burst onto the fashion scene; a modern Audrey Hepburn, gamine, slight and lending a je ne sais quoi to everything she did. Noted among other models for her sense of humor, Audrey was a favorite of photographer Steven Meisel and designers of the time.

Nowadays Audrey can be found lending her voice to charitable organizations including Les Enfants de Bam and spending time with her own family.

You started your career as a model. Is the rumor true you got into modeling so that you could earn money to buy a bicycle?

Indeed it is true. I wanted to get a moped. I lived in the countryside with my parents and I needed to have a mode of transportation that could get me to the big city to go to the cinema and see friends. Instead, I moved to New York and bought myself a car at 18; my first child, a Mercedes Benz 280SL Pagoda from the 70’s.

What were the most memorable moments about your career?

There have been a lot. My favorite designer, as a teen, was Jean Paul Gaultier and I got to walk as the bride in his couture show. I was so emotional that I was crying while walking.  Going to the White House for Annie Lebowitz’s book launch Women and meeting Bill and Hillary Clinton and walking in the Michael Kors runway show in Los Angeles on Steven Spielberg tennis court.

What did you discover about yourself through modeling?

I discovered a passion for clothes and luxurious fabrics. I knew I already loved clothes but it became amplified. I started modeling when I was 15 so modeling shaped my life. It gave me ideas about jobs that don’t get talked about in school as options for your future.

In addition to modeling you’ve acted and worked as a stylist. What do you find the most rewarding and why?

I love to try new things but always with a common thread among them. I designed for Claudie Pierlot for a year in 2010. It was fantastic. I chose fabrics and sketched, although I draw like a kid they had professionals to help me. Acting felt like a continuation of modeling in the sense I always played roles in magazines stories, so I was a silent actress. Today I am having fun with my YouTube Channel where I can express what I want and give to the people who watch. It’s rewarding; I am doing it alone, building my little world and being in charge of it.

Tell us about how you became involved with Les Enfants de Bam.

I discovered them in 2010, through my kid’s school. I always wanted to help but was never able to choose from all the many causes. I went to Burkina Faso to be sure we were helping and it was the most magical moment of my life. When we went to visit they felt so happy just knowing someone was thinking about them it made their day.

What does your role as a sponsor involve?

I try to find ways to raise money. I created a cocktail for the Bristol Hotel in Paris. I worked with Bonpoint, Chevignon, designed a bracelet for Etername and created one bag a year with Sous Les Paves and sold them at Colette and Montaigne Market. I’m fortunate they have been so kind and generous enough to help us.

How can people get involved with Les Enfants de Bam?

There is one simple thing you can do; sponsor a child. Our family sponsors one student each and we receive letters from them through the year.

What would people be surprised to learn about yourself?

It’s hard to say. I cook, I drive fast cars, I have three children and I love photography.

Follow Audrey on YouTube and Facebook

Catching Up With Tokyo’s Top Model Chiharu Okunugi

Japanese stunner Chiharu Okunugi at New York Model Management has been a presence on the world’s runways since her Spring/Summer 2012 show debut. Whether she is starring in campaigns for Chanel, Dior or Céline, Chiharu lends a sophistication and elegance to everything she does. However, behind the beautiful exterior lies a strong work ethic and focus. For hopeful models aspiring to break into the industry, Chiharu’s agent Marina Fairfax has some words of advice, “Work hard and give this your one hundred percent focus; it’s not a job that can be done halfheartedly. It’s a competitive market and if you want to be signed then you have to be better than everyone else! When you are a new face and just starting out; never be late, rude or not looking your best – you can never redo a first impression.”

Tell us about how you were discovered.

When I was 16 I was scouted at a train station by a woman who worked at a modeling agency in Tokyo. I signed with them after that.

What were some of the misconceptions you had about the modeling industry when you entered it?

The first time I went to Paris for Fashion Week I thought it would be easier but it was really hard work going on castings and fittings for all of the shows. It was also the first time I went to another country all by myself.

Tell us about the challenges you’ve had to overcome in your career.

The biggest challenge was learning a new language. Before I started modeling I didn’t speak any English.

What are the most memorable moments of your career so far?

I was booked as an exclusive in the Balenciaga 2013 S/S show. I believe that changed my career a lot.

How did you feel when you received your Vogue Japan Women of the Year award?

I was so happy when I heard the news –  it was an amazing moment for me.

What do you miss most about home when you are traveling?

I miss Japanese food and my bed. Sometimes it’s really hard to find good food and I can’t really sleep if I’m not in my own bed.

Tell us about your goals for the future.

I want to keep modeling as much as I can. I really love my job and I think that this is my calling.

Follow Chiharu on Instagram 

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Model and Technophile Vanessa Lee Knows There’s More To Life Than The Gym

Vanessa Lee’s destiny seemed written in the stars as the reluctant model was pursued by scouts throughout her formative years. After relenting she signed with an agency and the rest is proverbial history. Infused with a serious case of wanderlust, this British-bred Taiwanese beauty is a huge technophile that would be just at home in Silicon Valley as she is on the runway.

Tell us about how you were discovered.

I was scouted a couple of times growing up but it was never something that interested me for a multitude of reasons. I’m a nerd, I was shy and insecure, and I was bullied in school so I never pursued it. When I was 18 I was scouted again and my mum and sister kept telling me it was a sign because it kept happening to me. I went to see an agency and signed with them. I modeled part-time for a few years in between studying and went full-time the last few months as well as moving to New York.

What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?

I’m in a really fortunate position that a lot of my jobs enable me to travel so I’d say most of the trips have been highlights. I have a permanent case of wanderlust so any job that lets me travel makes me super happy, even if I just see the inside of a studio. I recently flew back to London for a campaign shot by Sebastian Fauna with Simon Nessman, which was insane.

What do you hope to get out of modeling?

I’ve been asking myself that since I started. More opportunities and experiences that constantly challenge and excite me? The plus side of having such a uncontrollable and somewhat sporadic job is that I am never really sure where I’ll be, who I’ll be working with and what I’ll be doing, and that is something I really appreciate. While I’m young and ambitious I believe that a job like mine is an opportunity to really do, see, make, work and figure out what I want without the responsibilities that will naturally come later. Not a lot of people can make a living off a job that affords them an unrestricted and freeing routine and I plan to make the most out of it.

What are your career aspirations?

Over the last few years I’ve become really interested in technology, startups and business. I’m a big Malcolm Gladwell fan and I live on TechCrunch and Mashable. It’s probably too soon to say, but I think that working at a startup or company that bridges both technology and fashion wouldn’t be too far from where I’d like to end up. – Hi Instagram! I also love making YouTube videos which is something I’ve been teaching myself to do recently. I’m just hungry to learn and at this point I’m just trying to figure out what I enjoy and go from there.

Rumor has it you’re a technophile. What’s currently on your radar that excites you?

I think the sharing economy is something that will continue to manifest in other areas than just travel and accommodation For example, I just read about MealPass which sounds like a decent business model but I guess it all depends on how people take to it. One of my friends started Airbnb which is still, in my opinion, one of the best startups out there and now they’re focusing on India.

One of your goals is to host a TED Talk. What subject would you cover and what about the TED platform interests you?

It would probably be a very sarcastic and dark humored talk on how I think people should go about getting what they want in life. My friends often call me sassy because I have a minimal filter, little shame and most of the time I do before I think. Nine times out of 10 this has led me to some ridiculously, borderline unbelievable opportunities and experiences that no one would believe. That’s exactly when I know I’m going about things the right way. My second topic of choice would be a talk about how being funny is better than having abs. Screw abs! I hate working out and I roll my eyes when models say they love it or that their body craves it. I don’t know about you, but my body craves fries.

What’s your life philosophy?

It’s not so much a philosophy, but I try to do at least one thing new or scary every day which can be as small as talking to a stranger or as big as going on a trip with a bunch of people I just met a few hours ago.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

When you meet me I am constantly joking and super upbeat. I am all about having fun, but when it comes to work I’m driven, hardworking and quick. I mean, I am Asian after all.

Can you share any projects you’re currently working on?

I just started a YouTube series that revolves around millennials that love to cook, eat and drink. The idea is that I film 1-2 episodes each week where either me or one of my friends, the majority of which are models or young creatives, cook something that is their signature dish. I show the good, the bad, the burnt and of course – the food! There is such a big movement toward the younger generation wanting to cook, it’s now cool to have food Instagram accounts and throw dinner parties yet there is nothing out there which caters for that audience. My friends and I prefer to have people over and throw brunches and dinners and it’s pretty hilarious so I figured why not start making mini films of them?

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