At 20 Roman Larichev started as a freelance photographer. At 22 he became a junior agent at Noah Models in Saint Petersburg, Russia. By the time he was 24, Roman was an agent at Andy Fiord Models working with all the top agencies in Europe and Asia and top Russian clients including Vogue, Interview and Glamour. When he turned 26 Roman became an international male model with a Valentino exclusive and featured in editorials for magazines including Interview.

How did you start in the fashion business?

I started in Russia as a freelance photographer back in 2008. I was always into visual arts and at some point that interest transformed into fashion photography and fashion in general. I was also working as a model internationally.

What made you shift your career from modeling to scouting?

It happened naturally. Shortly after working as an agent, I realized scouting suited me better as it was more creative for me – I loved traveling and meeting different people.

How has being a working model contributed to your work in scouting?

I’m glad I’ve had experiences on both sides.  With that knowledge, I’m more confident and have an understanding of the creative process and what it takes to accomplish. The most important part is the relationships I’ve made and continue to develop in fashion – from magazines, photographers, stylists, creative directors, etc.  Having these relationships with key people in the fashion industry, certainly helps when scouting as there is a lot of credibility and connections for future opportunities.

Russia has produced some of the most beautiful models in the world. How is scouting in Russia different to other markets?

In Russia, usually young girls have no idea how the modeling industry works – a lot of the potential models I met haven’t been exposed to the international fashion market.  It is important to be a good teacher and communicator to help prepare them for top markets like New York, Paris, London and Milan.  Being transparent and honest with the models and their parents about the opportunities and obstacles they may face is key.

What challenges do eastern European models face in foreign markets?

Some of the biggest challenges are language and culture. It really depends on the individual model. Those willing and open to learn, develop and adapt quickly do very well.  For others, it will take longer.

What is the most important thing that you look for in a model?

Nowadays, a good personality is a must.  With a good personality, I find there is passion and an openness to try new things.  The ability to collaborate, communicate and inspire others on a project is an important aspect of being a model.

What are the challenges of scouting in Russia and other Eastern European counties

I don’t view it as a challenge, as I speak fluent Russian and was born into the culture.  For an American or a European who doesn’t speak the language or does not have an understanding of the cultural norms, I imagine it would be more difficult to connect with the clientele.

What are the new trends in scouting?

The biggest trend in scouting is social networking.  You can find undiscovered talent, see their interests and get an authentic sense of their personality.  It is a great tool for scouting.

How do you define beauty?

For me, beauty originates in health and wellness. A person who takes care of themselves physically, mentally and spiritually, radiates from within.

What advice would you give to a model just starting out?

There is a lot of competition in the modeling industry. To be successful these days, it is important be more than just a pretty face.

Who are your fashion icons?

Karen Elson and Agyness Deyn.

What inspires you?

People, modern art and music.

Which new faces do you think we should be looking out for?

Irina Liss had back to back phenomenal show seasons. She is definitely a face to watch and she is Russian!