(NEW YORK) How superagent Brooke Wall turned a weekend gig scheduling haircuts for Oribe into a bicoastal home for the top backstage players.
BY EDDIE ROCHE
How did you land in New York?
My best friend was modeling in the city, so I moved here with her and ended up meeting Oribe, through mutual friends. I started working for him booking appointments at his salon on Saturdays. We became fast friends.
What was he like back then?
He’s a very unique person. At the time he was working with Steven Meisel and François Nars. He really understood how to bring out the best in a woman, through their hair and makeup. He made them all feel like they were Christy Turlington.
And sometimes they were.
Absolutely. It was the ’90s, and Christy, Kate [Moss], Linda [Evangelista], and Naomi [Campbell] used to come into the salon on weekends. We had robes made for them with their names on the back. We’d shoot with them during the week, so we were all friends. It was like a party all the time.
After that, you went to work for Ford Models. What was that like?
I started the beauty division and represented Oribe, Jenny Cho, and a handful of other hairstylists, stylists, and makeup artists. My office was right next to Eileen Ford’s, and even though she was retired, she would come in and sit beside my desk and tell me stories about the old days and what it takes to be a good agent. She taught me that the biggest thing is being honest with your talent and the people you work with because it only improves them. To hold back information, which a lot of agents do, mostly out of fear, is not beneficial for you or the talent. Eileen was very harsh sometimes, even with young girls, but it made sense and really resonated with me. I only saw that characteristic as being a gift and valuable to people, even if she was viewed as a bitch.
Are you a bitch?
Yeah! We’re both Aries women in touch with our masculine sides. I’m much better now than I was when I first started the business. I was really tough.
When did John Frieda come knocking?
I was at Ford for two and a half years when he approached me to start a stand-alone agency with him. At the time, I thought he was crazy. I asked him why he thought I could do it, and he said that I was the only agent in the city who had called him, instead of the other way around. I finally committed to the idea, and with Katie Ford’s blessing started The Wall Group. That was probably the hardest year of my life.
What did Mrs. Ford think?
Everyone though she was going to kill me. There was a Christmas party at the end of the year, and I knew she was going to be there, so I was bracing myself. She just said, ‘I’m going to miss you!’ It was so unexpected, and so nice.
Why was the first year so hard?
It’s New York City! Even getting phone lines was challenging. I started the office in John’s apartment. He was growing his hair business and I was running the agency. I only had one assistant for the first two years. We ended up moving to the Meatpacking District, and there were no phone lines along 14th Street. We had to pull phone lines from the back of Jeffrey’s—basically steal them—and rope them along the back of the building.
What’s The Wall Group like today?
We’re based in New York and Los Angeles and represent some of the best behind-the-scenes talent in beauty, fashion, production, and design. We pride ourselves on being ahead of the curve and staying on top of trends in the industry and educating ourselves as much as we possibly can. We rep everyone from Lori Goldstein to Leslie Fremar to Kate Young to Danilo.
What percentage of your clients have something to do with the looks on the Golden Globes red carpet?
Seventy percent of the people we represent.
Wow. What qualities do you look for in talent?
Well…talent! We were saying recently that maybe it’s all about the three P’s: passion, precision, and professionalism.
You’re also very close with Ivan Bart and Desiree Gruber, who are industry powerhouses.
We’re very good friends. I would be lying if I said we didn’t talk about work a lot, but we also talk about life. Anyone who is working hard and is successful gravitates toward people who are sharing the same life experiences and have the same qualities. You compare notes all the time. It’s fun.
Why do you think you’re good at what you do?
I have thought about this, and I’m very good at observing people and their qualities. I’m able to pinpoint their strengths and help them utilize those strengths to succeed in their career path.
Is that something that comes naturally?
It’s a gift. I really enjoy helping people succeed, which, in turn, creates success for us.
Are you good at negotiations?
I love negotiationg. I’m a bit of a deal junkie.
Do your clients ever have breakdowns where you have to play mommy?
I’m not very good at that. I’m very much a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps agent. Now is not the time for a breakdown—it’s time to go pro. But these jobs are hard. My clients aren’t doing open-heart surgery, but there is real pressure to deliver and be successful.