The man who discovered Italian supermodels Carla Bruni and Bianca Balti
Founder of modelling agency
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Bruno Pauletta, the founder of Brave Models and credited with launching the careers of some of Europe's biggest supermodels including Carla Bruni, Bianca Balti and Carmen Kass. In our conversation below, learn about how Bruno went from windsurfing the beaches of Greece to managing one of Milan's largest modelling agencies.
Why is your agency called Brave Models?
When I opened my agency seventeen years ago, it was one of the most difficult periods to start a business. It was right after 9/11 and the industry of modelling agencies was a disaster, so you had to be brave to open an agency.
You started working in the modelling agency by working for Riccardo Gay. How was this experience and why did you decide to start your own agency after?
Working for Riccardo Gay was amazing, I ended up working there for 15 years. It was completely by accident how I actually got the job. I was a windsurfing and sailing teacher in Greece and spoke French and English fluently. Through that I met the director at that agency and he asked me to work for him, and I ended up working there for 15 years.
How did you discover Carla Bruni?
I was a booker at Riccardo Gay and when I saw her picture in a magazine, it was like love at first sight, in a professional sense. So I called the magazine and asked what the name of the girl was, and they told me Carla Bruni. At the time she was at an agency in Paris, and said she was placed in Milano with a commercial agency where she was not doing much. So I booked her for an important campaign with a known photographer and started to manage her. From that big campaign, she got into Versace and the rest is history.
How was it starting your own agency from scratch? What were some of the biggest hurdles you encountered?
It was incredibly tough, it started very slowly. The first three years were a drama, I lost all my money.
What kept you going?
I'm very stubborn, I like to succeed. I hang on to my projects until they succeed, even if it causes me a lot of personal difficulties.
Since starting you agency in 2001, you have discovered some of the most successful models, including Bianca Balti and Carmen Kass, women who other agencies had rejected. What is it about them that made you see potential in them?
It's everything about them. The first impression you get of a model is important. I see the fire in a model, meaning the potential, and I've been very lucky to have found so many of them. Bianca was passed up by several agencies as they were not interested in her, many thought she was too short to be a model. One day a friend of mine suggested to Bianca to come into my agency and to meet me although she was not keen on it, as she already had some negative experiences. Bianca came to me with bleached blond fringe and I immediately asked her to remove it. But I instantly saw there was incredible potential in her, and I was right.
How has social media impacted your work? Has this impact been positive or negative?
I would say 50/50. There are both some very positive and negative aspects about it. But if you would ask me to go back to the era before social media, I would say yes, there was a different kind of potential, professionalism and capability.
Do you look at a model’s social media following when you hire them?
No, because most of the models we find are brand new.
Do you encourage your models to be active on social media?
Unfortunately yes as our clients want models to have lots of followers.
How do you typically spot a model?
Our scouts look for models. We have one person who travels the world scouting new talent. We have other bookers that do scouting too apart from managing and booking. I sometimes scout as well. A lot of models apply themselves too through our website, instagram or facebook.
We have a contest running with Marie Claire and OVS where we find a lot of models living in Italy through that.
Where do you see the modelling industry going in the next five years?
I don’t think it's going to get bigger, and unfortunately it won't go back to how it was. The modelling agency used to be stronger and bigger, fashion was a different story. With new technologies and social media, everything has become more accessible. Back then, there were fewer models and superstars, now there are millions of models and agencies.