Trump Model Management is preparing to close its doors after a tumultuous period following Donald Trump’s political ascent. During New York Fashion Week in September, it was rumored that some of the fashion industry decided not to cast models from Trump’s agency. Then agency manager Gabriel Ruas Santos Rocha left to start ANTI management, his own firm, taking several models and agents with him.
The modeling agency’s reputation was tarnished back in August 2016, when Mother Jones published a damning exposé featuring testimonies from three former, non-citizen models who said they worked illegally in the US when they were signed with Trump’s company. “It is like modern-day slavery,” one model said about her time with the agency.
And the trouble only continued as the company bled its talent and staff. Maggie Rizer, a former Trump agency model, announced via Instagram last year that she was leaving, writing, “As a woman, a mother, an American, and a human being, I cannot wake up Wednesday morning being the least bit related to the Trump brand; win or lose. I owe it to myself and to my children to proudly stand up for what I believe in and that is a world where Donald Trump has no voice for the future of our country.”
Top model Mia Kang, who is currently still on the Trump Model’s homepage for her recent GUESS Watches campaign, also departed the agency abruptly this month.
President Trump started Trump Model Management in 1999, not long after he acquired the Miss Universe pageant (which has since been acquired by WME/IMG in September 2015). While he no longer runs The Trump Organization (his sons Donald and Eric have taken over), he still holds an 85 percent stake in the company.
Over the weekend, a leaked email to industry colleagues from Corinne Nicolas, Trump Model Management president, confirmed that the 18-year-old agency will indeed be shuttering its doors, though the email did no specify when. “The Trump Organization is choosing to exit the modeling industry,” she wrote. Instead, she said, the organization will focus its resources on the “real estate, golf and hospitality space.”
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(h/t Teen Vogue; photo via Dave Kotinsky, Mark Wilson/Getty)