The Wilhelmina modeling agency is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year, and so naturally, a commemorative Rizzoli tome debuts this month. Wilhelmina: Defining Beauty reveals incredible images of some of Wilhelmina’s most legendary talents, along with illuminating and provocative meditations on the industry from its author, Eric Wilson. Bill Wackermann, Wilhelmina’s CEO and the mastermind of its anniversary celebrations, explains:
The book widely covers Wilhelmina’s most iconic models, from Patti Hansen and Wilhelmina Cooper herself to today’s giants like RJ King, Chico Lachowski, Veronika [Vilim], and Isis [Battaglia]. How did the Wilhelmina team go about editing through all that film?
It took about a year to work through the archives and research all the incredible talent that has come through our doors over the past 50 years. This book reflects only a small portion of that talent. Choosing images was so hard.
Why was Eric the right author?
Eric was the ideal person to join the project because he brings both a keen sense of current fashion trends and deep understanding of the history of fashion.
You’re coming up on your second anniversary at Wilhelmina. How has the agency evolved under your leadership?
The past two years at Wilhelmina I’ve learned so much and have grown such a profound respect for our models and agents. It’s takes a lot of effort to make someone look effortlessly beautiful.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Look, I’m a dad—the favorite part of the job is cheering on someone from the sidelines to achieve their dreams and goals and hoping that you could play a small part. I hate when agents or managers tell talent, ‘You’d be nowhere without me.’ That’s bullshit. There’s something special about models and artists.
Going into 2018, what makes Wilhelmina attractive to talents like Nicki Minaj, whom you recently signed?
We’ve recently signed some incredible new artists, like Maren Morris, and 5 Seconds of Summer and the Les Twins. All of Wilhelmina artists have something that makes them stand out in a crowd. I know it’s cliché, but they have ‘that thing,’ where you can’t take your eyes off them.
What, if anything, to all Wilhelmina models have in common?
Wilhelmina models are just badasses. They’re ballsy. They’re outspoken. They’re ambitious and they’re hardworking. And they’re coming for you.