New York, London, Milan and Paris; what do these cities have in common? They are the epicenter where fashion comes to life on the runways. Designers, models, editors, influencers, all come together to make it happen twice a year for fashion week. One of the key players that sets trends and pushes boundaries in the modeling business is the agent that represents models at top modeling agencies around the world.
Gabriel Ruas Santos Rocha is a senior agent at Trump Models and he has graced the fashion industry with his creative eye, sharp mind, and tenacity in the way he envisions what a model should envelop. If that means whether they're tall, thin, curvy, or has that editorial look that hasn't been seen before, Gabriel and other agents around the world have an influence on what is in, or out. I had the opportunity to ask Gabriel questions about fashion, modeling, trends, and what this whole process of fashion means to him and everyone else that can't get enough of fashion.
Gabriel Rocha/Marcus L. Morris
Shawn Reinoehl What does fashion mean to you?
Gabriel Rocha Fashion is an art form, it is more than making clothes, it's a way of expressing oneself, telling stories, showing personalities. Creating fashion is not just about putting out a dress on a runway.
SR How did you get involved with modeling agencies?
GR A girlfriend of mine who was asked to meet with Marilyn Agency to be a model didn't want to go by herself, so she asked me to tag along. I met the director of the agency and after that meeting we would occasionally run into each other. One day I got a call from her asking if I wanted to join their team; she said she felt my personality would be a good fit for the agency. I was intrigued, so I went for that meeting and 13 years later, I'm still in the business.
SR Of the models you've worked with, who are some of your favorites?
GR I have represented many great ones but I have to say some of the most inspiring models are probably Michelle Alves, Maggie Rizer, Julia Nobis, Shirley Mallmann and Caroline Ribeiro. Those girls are real muses to me.
SR Your favorite fashion era and why?
GR Aesthetically I love the 70's, there was so much going on at that time, from disco to glam rock and the looks were so elaborate and bold, it was a totally exciting time period for fashion in general. I also love where we are today, because it's sort of a "best of" generation. We've been borrowing the best things from each previous decade and tweaking it to make it a little more modern and I like that. I like that pretty much everything is accepted, it's all about embracing a look with confidence.
SR Who are your top three designers?
GR At the moment Dries Van Noten, Givenchy and Celine. Ever, I would include McQueen, when he was still around and also John Galliano, he is an absolute genius!
SR How long have you been in the fashion industry?
GR Thirteen years, but it feels like nothing!
SR In the fashion world, fresh is a must, what trends have you seen with the way models look?
GR when I started, the trend in beauty was between Brazilian and Russian models, very beautiful and sexy girls. Slowly after that the trend shifted a little bit more towards girls who looked a little bit like birds, meaning, big eyes, pointy nose, little chin, more of a round face, you know... Then it became a little bit more all American and pretty, like, the girl next door, reminding me a little bit of the 90's when girls were just stunning and appeared more like someone you would want to be friends with. I particularly loved the grunge period in the late 90's, I think fashion was very exciting at that time.
SR Are there super models today, or was that a product of the 90's?
GR Yes, there are definitely supermodels today. The industry went through a period when there weren't any, perhaps Gisele Bundchen was the only one around, for nearly a decade, but slowly they came back. I think at the moment some of the girls who could be compared with the original supermodels are Joan Smalls and Karlie Kloss.
SR Is skinny still in?
GR Skinny is still in, very much so - but healthy too; skinny and healthy.
SR If a girl wanted to become a model what are some requirements she must meet in order to become one?
GR 5'9 height, hips below 35 inches, good skin and good genes, self-confidence and patience, lots of patience.
SR What's next in your career?
GR I'd like to make bigger contributions to the industry and perhaps guide aspiring models and agents in a broader spectrum, away from the booking table and out in the universe.
SR If you could be on a TV show or reality show which show would it be?
GR Oh, anything that Nigella Lawson could be involved in, I think she is absolutely fabulous!
SR What inspires you?
GR Creativity and open-mindedness in others, that always gives me desire to do more and create new things.
SR Top three fashion photographers you adore?
GR I will stick with ones who are alive: Steven Meisel, Daniel Jackson, Lachlan Bailey and Ryan McGinley.
SR Where do you see fashion going in the next few years?
GR Oh I haven't a clue!
SR What projects are you working on?
GR At the moment I am working on a project that tells stories from the industry with a fresh perspective, should be out by next year.
SR When are you the busiest at your job?
GR For me the most stressful times are the ones preceding the fashion season, when we have to make sure everything is organized for what's about to take place, in line with strategy and brand development.
SR What's your favorite season?
GR Autumn, no doubt!
SR Do you see plus models replacing the thin girls on the runways?
GR No, but I like that they're more present each day.