ABOVE: WAYNE STERLING IN NEW YORK,JULY 2013. SHIRT AND PANTS: BERLUTI. WATCH:CARTIER. SUNGLASSES (IN HAND): SAINT LAURENT BY HEDI SLIMANE. SOCKS: FALKE. SHOES: PRADA. STYLING: MIGUEL ENAMORADO.
“Everybody thought the supermodel was going to last forever,” recalls Wayne Sterling, reflecting on the ’90s, a decade when Linda Evangelista famously bragged that she and her glamorous cohorts refused to get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day. Times, though, have certainly changed, and if anyone understands how the modeling industry has evolved over the past 20 years, it’s Sterling, the soft-spoken 44-year-old fashion enthusiast and online journalism pioneer who co-founded the influential website Models.com in 2000.
Indeed, for every Gisele, there are a hundred rising newcomers. Perhaps there always were, but these days their names and faces are more visible, largely due to Models.com. Delivering on its name, the site, which Sterling launched with Stephan Moskovic, is a comprehensive who’s who of the modeling world, packed with news, agency directories, and rankings, which presaged the currently exploding online obsession with models, model style, and model minutiae. “During the early days of the site, nobody knew any of the new faces,” says Sterling. “Models.com changed that rhythm when it started to expose more models and more layers of the industry. It demystified it.”
Demystifying once-exclusive domains speaks volumes of Sterling’s character. A self-described voyeur, Sterling moved to New York from Jamaica during his youth and eagerly immersed himself in the underground club scene. It was the models he befriended on that circuit who became his entrée into the industry. Timing, of course, was key. Being online in the early days of the internet was a pivotal move for introducing such a select world to a global audience of fashion fans and establishing it as an institution among industry figures. But, Sterling notes, everything has to evolve. “A model can’t just be this beautiful girl with a perfect body, because there is such a glut of that. You have to do something else.” In addition to blogging about fashion, art, and design under the title of the Imagist, Sterling left Models.com last year (though he still contributes stories) to form Mix Model Management. As its name suggests, it’s a new agency for today’s multifaceted model. “Pretty people sell,” says Sterling. “But this is not so much about model management and more about talent management.”
GROOMING PRODUCTS: NARS SKIN, INCLUDING LUMINOUS MOISTURE CREAM. GROOMING: KRISTIN HILTON/THE WALL GROUP. SET DESIGN: DANIEL GRAFF/MARY HOWARD STUDIO. SPECIAL THANKS: PIER 59.