Just like any other career, there are definite tiers of success when it comes to modeling. You start off paying your dues on the runway, and, hopefully, if you have any long-term success, move your way up the ladder until you manage to book a campaign (the industry's equivalent to landing a corner office in the corporate world). It used to be, back in the days of Cindy Crawford, you knew you made it if you walked for the Versace show, booked a shoot with Richard Avedon, and became the face of Revlon. But what are the most coveted benchmarks along a catwalker's professional trajectory these days? We spoke with some of the best in the business, including IMG's Ivan Bart, top model Crystal Renn, casting director James Scully, and rising star Josephine Skriver, to find out.
Chris Gay, President of Marilyn Agency
"Cosmetics contracts are always considered the crown jewel of a model's career; editorially speaking, the covers of Italian, French, and American Vogue have a huge impact on a model's career."
Coco Rocha, Top Model
"Any perfume and cosmetics contract, of course. But Asian jobs pay a lot, too. Sure, it's not the most glamorous, but the model is able to pay her mortgage."
Scott Lipps, Owner at One Management
"Coveted covers of magazines like French and Italian Vogue are always career-defining moments. Still, campaigns for high end brands like Prada and Louis Vuitton are great, as well, as the much-sought-after beauty contract from Estée Lauder."
James Scully, Casting Director for Carolina Herrera and Jason Wu
"It depends. A model enters the business hoping someday for that cosmetics or Victoria's Secret contract. At this point now, though, shows are key to launching careers. Mostly because everyone watches shows, including photographers and stylists. Or vice versa, a Steven Meisel or Inez and Vinoodh or Mert and Marcus may shoot a girl before she hits the runway. It works both ways."
Caroline Poznanski, Director at Supreme Management
"Today, [there are] so many girls in the business and it goes so fast. I think it is so important to have a solid career, not to be the hot girl of the moment, and six months down the line have no more bookings. For us, a great booking is to have a cosmetics or fragrance contract, but also to have a ten- to fifteen-year career, with great editorials, which helps attain the campaigns and contracts — to evolve in a great model."
David Bonnouvrier, Founder of DNA Models
"A career is usually made of a succession of milestones; an opening slot in the best shows leads to incredible editorial coverage and covers, which in return leads to financial success in the form of contracts, each of them being equally as important as the other. I know a lot of girls who had an amazing editorial career, but were not financially successful. I also know models that were generating a lot of money and had no editorial."
Josephine Skriver, Rising Face in Modeling
"Hmmm, this is a difficult question! Fronting an amazing single-girl campaign or becoming a Victoria’s Secret Angel would both be dreams come true, but there are just so many opportunities in the industry these days that it’s hard to pinpoint just one thing. I think even getting to where I am today is already one of the 'best model bookings.'"
Cory Bautista, Director of New York Models
"The best bookings for a model to start her career with are exclusive show deals with designers like Calvin Klein, Prada, or Balenciaga. If they happen to be in the first look of any of these shows, the more the press will cover said model's arrival to this industry. These bookings will inevitably lead to campaigns and editorials shot by the best photographers in the world; we all know who the handful of them are."
Andrew Weir, Casting Director for Thakoon and Viktor & Rolf
"The brass ring for a model today is to be the face of a fragrance for one of the top cosmetic brands, such as Estée Lauder or Lancôme. After that, the best booking for a model would be to land an ad campaign for a major brand that is both lucrative and cool; Gucci and Calvin come to mind."
Jasmine Tookes, Rising Face in Modeling
"A cosmetics contract with any of the top five companies!"
Paul Rowland, President at Ford Models
"I don't feel one booking is the key. It's the overall well-managed career that makes a girl a star and sustains them."
Crystal Renn, Top Model
"The coveted cosmetics contract is always the Holy Grail. It also offers the opportunity to work on representing a brand in a higher, more meaningful manner."
Statement From Women Management
"These days, any job (cover, campaign, editorial) that uses a model is the best job. There are a sea of generic celebrities (actresses and pop stars) who have lately hijacked fashion campaigns and covers. The top models today have to work harder than ever to get off the fashion week hamster wheel and establish themselves as brand names."
Jennifer Starr, Casting Director for Ralph Lauren and the Pirelli Calendar
"The best booking for a model really depends on the model and what she wants to get out of this industry — and what she could realistically book. I meet many whose biggest dream is to do Victoria's Secret. Others cite becoming an American Vogue girl or being photographed by Steven Meisel as the pinnacle of success. Or course, a contract is probably like winning the lottery. Signing a multimillion dollar, several-year contract with Estée Lauder, Calvin Klein, or Ralph Lauren."
Ivan Bart, Senior V.P. and Managing Director at IMG Models
"Always Steven Meisel. By the way of Steven, you end up working with the best luxury brands; creative and imaginative editorials, as well as moving images these days."
So there you have it, folks. A cosmetics contract is still the top billing for a model. Shot, preferably, by Steven Meisel. And let's throw in some Victoria's Secret Angel wings for good measure.