Tuesday, June 30, 2009

IM Agency featured on EXPAT Travel & Lifestyle Magazine Philippines

By Jahzeel Abihail G. Cruz

As an industry that thrives on novelty and shuns the old as so-last-season, fashion naturally turns to other countries for new inspirations.The emerging , vibrant Philippine fashion industry is no exception, and among the fashion runways, billboards, commercials, and print ads around the country, there is bound to be that guy or girl from the neighboring country or next.


Foreigners enjoy much attention, if not popularity, in the Philippines simply for looking different, and that is reinforcement enough for any model stay and book jobs here. But it has a lot to do with the country, too. Just ask May Flores, President of IM Agency, one of the trailblazing agencies in the foreign model market. Her mostly Brazilian roster of foreign models, she says, "have a second home in the Philippines", a warm country in more ways than one.

IM Agency began in 2004 under the name T Models, operating as a strategic partner of an agency of the same name in Singapore. The venture soon branched out into South East Asia with increasingly bigger projects and more contacts, particularly from Brazil. T Models Manila rebranded as IM Agency in 2007 and has been on the rise ever since. Having propelled the likes of Kenji Marquez, Luke Jickain, Will Devaughn, and Melissa Frye to modeling fame, the agency has cemented its status as a premier player in the Philippine modeling scene.


Flores considers her agency's specialty in representing foreign models as an advantage. However, she is quick to point out that the preference is not for foreigners per se, but for fresh faces. " All advertisers want new faces", she says, and it just so happens that often, foreign equals new. When considering that the agency targets advertisers for beauty endorsements, beautiful and foreign is a killetr combination.

We can blame fashion reality shows for associating modeling with cutthroat competition. Sans the knives and claws, however, Flores says that it is actually not far from the truth: It is very demanding. You have to keep up with the expectations of other people to make it". The Philippines is largely a commercials rather than a fashion market, and the models that book jobs here advertise products rather than clothes. This market is concededly less demanding, but demanding nonetheless.

When choosing among models to represent, Flores maintains a standard of sorts: the Pan- Asian look, or more that could pass for a Filipino. Only the audience can be the judge of whether Slovakian Miriam Gubovicova and Brazilians Giselli Monteiro and Felipe Caffe pass that test, but they have blended in quite well, both in the Philippine fashion world and the everyday life here.


You have recognized her from Philippine commercials and print ads of Myra- e, Cream Silk, and Nescafe, but Miriam Gubovicova hails from Slovakia in Eastern Europe. Coming from a country not necessarily known for it's fashion industry, she has traversed the globe in her various modeling pursuits. The atmosphere in the Philippines , however,serves as a welcome respite whenever her schedule allows it. " What i love about coming to Manila is the free time i get to do other things I enjoy", she relates.

A perusal of her resume with the agency shows a refreshing combination of beauty and brains. Not only does she speak five languages she is also currently excelling at Monash University in Malaysia, where she is pursuing a degree in Communication and International Studies. In fact, modeling was a means to finance her studies, and studying likewise follows her on the set. She recalls, juggling a midterm essay and a commercial shoot one day: " Instead of clothes, my luggage was filled with books and my day started at 5:30am by opening my computer and writing till noon, going for a shoot til evening and coming back to my books again".

Of Brazilian, German, and Italian descent. Giselli Monteiro is multicultural all by herself. Add that to her print and TV commercial resume in Southeast Asia and a Bollywood movie to boot, and Giselli is Internationally personified.

Showing model potential in a fashion show at the age of five, Giselli did eventually follow modeling, her dream career.She has been working as a professional model since she was a teenager, in and around Europe and Asia. Ironically, the idea of modeling in beauty crazy Brazil hasn't crossed her mind, because "there are too many models there, everyone wants to be a model".

Indeed, Giselli's experience as a model are as varied as can be, from high-fashion Louis Vuitton fittings at the age of 16 to mermaid commercials for Eskinol here in the Philippines. But her most recent endeavor took her to alien territory, even for herself: Giselli recently wrapped up three months' worth of shooting for a Bollywood film in India. She portrayed an Indian girl in the 1960's, including the mandatory song-and-dance routine in Hindi.

Even through e-mail, Felipe caffe still exudes a sense of fun and exuberance that could only be South American. Debuting in Philippine TV in iced tea commercials in 2009, Felipe has had his share of bookings with designere (such as menswear designer Carlos Miele) and magazine covers and spreads. Like Giselli, Felipe notes "that because of the accommodating attitude from the clients in the Philippines, models tend to do their best in promoting a product here".

Aside from going to the gym and painting, Felipe spends free time as the other half of Soul Brazil, a pop Latin acoustic band formed with fellow Brazilian model, Gui Adorno. they have since been invited to perform at various bars in the metro.


By no means do Miriam, Giselli, or Felipe consider the modeling life as being fed with a silver spoon. " I have to say, every project is an oppurtunity to learn something new. but it's never the easy way", says Miriam. it does however, help to be linked to an agency with as much parental affection as one in the Philippines can provide. " I've never been back to the same country, but this is my third time in the Philippines", Giselli adds.

As it goes, life as model is life on the move. One thing for sure is that the modeling industry here and elsewhere is obsessed with novelty. What isn't as fixed is from where the next foreign model to hit the Philippines will come. And it most definitely could be anywhere.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

IM Agency's Ciane for Philippine Fashion Week 2009

CIANE walks for Dubai-based designer Michael Cinco and opens Kashieca fashion segment for Philippine Fashion Week.



Philippine Fashion Week 2009.
Photos By: Bruce Casanova of OPMB
Runway Productions.

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