Back To Natural
It’s 1989 and a grounded team of driven fashion minimalists stand on a beach in England with a clean faced, fair skinned, rake skinny blonde fifteen year girl, who has a little snaggle tooth to add to her alluring appearance. She is wearing a handmade daisy chain necklace and $5 Native American headband, the stylist is unpretentious revolutionary Melanie Ward, the eye behind the camera is Corrine Day and the model in question is the now household fashion name, Kate Moss. They are taking the simple spontaneous photographs that will unveil the face of the future of fashion, no airbrushing, no photoshop, no hoo ha and za za zoom styling, just natural beauty.
Fast-forward twenty-one years and down in our very own Sydney seaside haunt, Bondi, Lincoln Ferguson, an avant-garde model booker, is taking the exact same natural photos that may unveil the next face. He is working with his models like they are friends taking casual photos in his living room, he is taking the facade out of the fashion industry and leaving the door wide open to fresh faces, new creative’s and already established clients who are looking to step ahead of the time.
The ‘business,’ is called The Agency and the concept reflects it’s modest name, “The Agency is about people working together, models booker, etc. not for each other,” Lincoln tells me over a casual coffee in Bondi. He’s a casual kind of guy, he informs me I’m lucky he even put thongs on to come down and see me, but behind the casualness is a deep passion for people, beauty in all it’s various forms and fashion in all it’s boundless reflective abilities of both.
Lincoln has worked on both sides of agency life; he has been a client and the third party between the booker and the client in his styling days as well as doing a short stint as a booker himself. All this bought him to the conclusion that there was a key element lacking in the relationship between all three roles, the element was openness and empathy and so The Agency was born. “As an agent I like to empower the models not to make them dis-empowered. We can all help each other.”
This pretty much sums up his attitude and the attitude of the models he takes on, “I love proactive models. This new generation are savvy and informed. They are not like teenagers of 20 years ago.Half of them come from broken families, they’ve lived and seen a lot more, thanks to the Internet, than young people used to.” Lincoln doesn’t treat his models like children; he encourages a mature attitude that in turn empowers them in their working environment. “I’m supplying models with a chilled work environment and clients with great friendly models and serving it with a smile.” He does this through his own relaxed approach to dealing with his models, by providing them with a comfortable open environment they learn to create this in their own working environments with clients. “I want a fresh relaxed vibe between everyone.” His models are human beings not coat hangers and that in it self is a springboard for great work to launch from.
The unique point of difference between The Agency and other agencies in Sydney doesn’t stop only in the way he works with his models though it carries over to the way we presents them. When you click past the boxing animation on his homepage (seemingly symbolic of his fight to change the industry,) there is no glossy magazine pages or touched up portfolio shots instead his models appear in natural digital shots taken in his Bondi lounge room. “When I was working as a booker the first thing clients asked me was ‘can we see the digital shots,’ they want to know what the girl (or boy) looks like in real life. I’m providing clients with real pictures of models first so clients can see what they are really booking not just prettied up pictures to make the agency look good.”
The concept was inspired by German Agency, Nine Daughters and a Stereo, who also feature natural shots on their homepage. The Agency also channels their relaxed approach to fashion, Lincoln says, “It’s fashion, its fun, we’re creating, not saving lives.” The man makes a point, somehow I think uncovering Kate Moss on that fateful day was far from a serious venture, it was a beautiful accident created by inspired people, who probably just wanted to take some happy snaps. Lincoln is embracing those inspired people, he is throwing open his Bondi door to creative’s with a vision like Melanie Ward whether it is a model with a great set of eyes or a stylist and a photographer looking for their Kate Moss, to make their vision a reality, “everyone is welcome, there is no pretense.”
Lincoln honestly wants to see a change in the fashion industry and he isn’t just sitting around waiting for it he is starting with a back to basic, carefree attitude just like Melanie Ward and her rebellious London friends had back in the early 1990’s when they took their vision based on realism and overhauled the industry. Just like Ward and her anti fashion comrades, Lincoln is creating an environment where work is like having fun with your friends.
Oddly enough Ward and Co also pioneered their groundbreaking new vision on the back of a recession, something that is inherently linked to the timing of The Agency. “It’s a new market out there and people are tired of the way business is done and are starting to look for different ways to do business.” And The Agency is delivering.
Real people, real images and real communication pretty much sum up the agency in a nutshell, “We’re just keeping it real in a fake industry.” The wheels of change are in motion again, but this time the beach in the background of the photo that started them rolling might just be in our own backyard, Bondi.