BRUNELLA CASELLA, Vice President of Industry Model Management
BY ERICA ROSEMAN
Discovered on the Via Montenapoleone in Milan, Brunella Casella was a leading model of the 1970s. Casella started her model career shooting a campaign with Helmut Newton and never looked back. Over fifteen years, she worked with top names including Gilles Bensimon, Patrick Demarchellier and Peter Lindberg shooting campaigns for Gianni Versace, Gianfranco Ferre’, Armani, Jean Paul Gauthier and many others.
Casella parlayed her experience into an equally successful career developing and managing models, beginning in Paris and soon, all over the world. She is credited with discovering the two biggest Italian models of today Vittoria Ceretti, and Greta Varlese. Today, she brings her talent and vision to New York where she will work side by side with Federico Pignatelli della Leonessa in launching Industry Model Management, a high- end boutique women’s agency with offices in New York and Los Angeles.
The Impression took some time to talk with the Model Maven…How did you meet Federico Pignatelli della Leonessa?
I’ve known him for a very long time as a visionary businessman, and founder of Pier59Studios, but never had the chance to meet him in person. When he called me to talk about the vision he had for The Industry we immediately saw eye to eye, having shared similar experiences in the fashion business.
How will The Industry distinguish itself from other model agencies?
The Industry will be a boutique agency representing models for both print and motion. This means beautiful women with a great personality, videogenic and photogenic at the same time.
How does your past experience as a leading model play into your business approach?
Knowing this business form the other side, gave me the experience and the empathy to understand the models needs and the parents concerns. I’ve learned to respect that modeling is hard work. It is very difficult to keep the separation between personal self-esteem and the opinion of others. The ‘NOs’ they are faced with every day are far more than the ‘YESs’. I always remind them to learn as much as possible from this experience and be aware of the enormous potential that can be derived. I’m the living proof!!
How will The Industry seek out new talent?
We are looking for synergies here. The incredible relationships and the platform that Pier59Studios represents in the business together with my credibility and longtime experience makes the perfect match to attract talents. Under my art direction we will leverage Pier59Studios internal resources and creativity to offer our talents the best tools in the business (I.e. photographers, social media team, post-production, art media, etc.).
Thanks to the connection with the most prestigious studios in the world, the professional growth for our models can be exponentially supported by a fully equipped facility and arrays of professionals that will be available to nourish their careers in this challenging and rapidly changing business.
How did your journey in the fashion business started?
One day I was driving my car down Via Montenapoleone in Milan, deeply immersed in thoughts about my young son. A photographer stopped me and ask if I was a model…. that is the moment my very own adventure in the fashion business started.
You’ve worked all over the world. How do you find the approach to models differs in the U.S. vs. Europe vs. Asia?
As far as I’ve experienced, each market has basically the same approach that is to satisfy the clients’ needs. As a consequence of that there are different type of models with different physical features or different levels of their career, which makes them more suitable for a market rather than another, as example young and inexperienced girls are more requested in Europe and Asia.
How do you think the digital age and social media has changed the model industry?
We are all going fast and faster and the digital era is a consequence of that. Back to the clients’ needs, they are more and more looking for talents that are globally recognized or with a huge amount of followers. Social media is giving back to models the chance to compete along actors, pop stars and athletes.
You worked with many of the original super models — Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Stephanie Seymour — the list goes on and on. How do you think the concept of super models has evolved?
Actors, pop stars and athletes replaced the original super models in the most prestigious advertising shooting, television commercials and exclusive covers.
Season after season we see squads of new faces striving to have a little moment of fame.
At the end of the day the only models that end up having the chance to build a longer and successful career are the ones with a strong and interesting personality, the ones that become influencers and therefore collect an incredible number of followers.