Milan, Italy, is one of the top fashion cities in the world. A relatively inexpensive city with a wonderful culture, amazing food, and warm people, Milan is a popular destination for models on their first business trip. The city is a great breakthrough market for new faces looking to gain experience in the industry and hoping to work internationally. A successful stint in Milan has helped to launch many models careers on an international level. However, the city is filled with hundreds of models and is one of the most competitive modelling markets in the world. New faces to long time veterans of the industry travel to the market for work and some models return as many as three to four times before they have found success or their “big break.”
Agencies in Milan are always on the hunt for new faces. A model can have only a couple test shoots and if an agency thinks they will work, they can be sent to go on contract to Milan.
For fashion, editorial and runway work, models must be tall (e.g. 177+cm [5'10”]) and slim. Models who also have unique, striking features such as Kelly Mittendorf (D'Management) or Caterina Ravaglia (IMG Milan) can appeal to big fashion clients.
Editorial male models should be slim but in good shape and have a charming personality. With his boyish looks and sharp cheekbones, Simone Nobili (Independent Men) is a perfect example of a successful editorial male model in Milan.
For commercial work, agencies and clients in Milan love classic beauties. Think models with beautiful eyes, full lips, and chiseled cheekbones such as Bianca Balti (Brave Models) and Cameron Russell (D'Management). Newer faces like Rosie Tapner and Kate King have also been doing well in Milan.
For male models, most clients in Milan love male models that are manly and exude a specific sort of sex appeal. David Gandy (Why Not), arguably the most famous male model, is considered to be an icon in Milan. He looks fit, strong, and handsome. Sharp and chiseled features with a muscular physique are the ideal for a male commercial model in Milan.
Female models (commercial and editorial) in Milan must have no larger than a 35” (90cm) hip. For runway, some models might even have to be a 34” (88cm) hip in order to fit the sample sizes. Milan is notoriously for hiring very young girls to fit into their tiny sample sizes.
Bust: 30-34” (76-86cm)
Waist: 23-25” (58-63cm)
Hips: 33-35” (84-90cm)
Chest: 37-42” (93-102cm)
Waist: 29-33” (79-83cm)
The above chest and waist maximum measurements are the standard. Commercial and editorial male models should have a waist size that is no larger than 33” (83cm) in order to properly fit the clothes. Traditionally, Italian clothing runs on the smaller size. However, many designers in recent years have been making larger samples sizes, with chest measurements exceeding the standard 40 inches. Male models will find it difficult to perfect their measurements in this market. Look and luck are ultimately what will confirm one man over another. Nevertheless, male models should be on top of their fitness, no matter what measurements they are.
Agencies in Milan like to scout new faces and models who are 18 years old or younger. It's a market that grooms models by helping them define their look and build their portfolio to prepare them to work internationally.
Agencies will take on older models who are in their 20s, but need to be commercial in order to find success in Milan. Most of the editorial shoots will be for younger models. If older models are not commercial, they need to have very strong portfolios and years of experience in order to be able to compete for the bigger jobs and campaigns.
Models who work well in Milan
The following is a list of models who have found success in Milan and who have continued to be highly regarded names in the industry. Some of these models have become some of the world's most famous faces in modelling, but their looks are a classic depiction of what kind of models can hope to find success in Milan.
Stefan Knezevic – Independent Men
Dawid Auguscik – Independent Men
Simone Nobili – Independent Men
Maximiliano Patane – Independent Men
Bianca Balti – Brave Models
Elisa Sednaoui - D'Management
Mariacarla Boscono - Women
Caterina Ravaglia – IMG
Note: Although these models have found success in the market, the modelling industry is unpredictable; just because a model does well in a market once doesn't necessarily mean they'll do well there again. Timing, luck, and “looks of the moment” are large indicators of a model's success.
Types of Jobs & Rates
Although Milan has a lot of different types of jobs, it isn't a market that models go to in order to earn money - especially in the current economic crisis facing Italy. Milan is a good market for new faces to get acquainted with the industry, get exposure, do fashion week, and build a portfolio.
Money can be made in Milan but it takes at least a few months to see start seeing some progress. Although the city itself isn't expensive to live in, model expenses ten to run quite high. Success in Milan as a model also depends largely on luck as well as a good agency pushing the model to clients. Sometimes a model starts working right away, but sometimes it takes them months or even years before they start booking lucrative jobs. Milan can be worth it for a model to try at least a couple times throughout their career.
When going to casting, models should always showcase their personality to clients. For the most part, Italians are very warm people who love other people who share the same zest for life as them. At castings, remember to be charming and sweet and you'll start to get a positive reputation in the industry and hopefully bookings will follow.
Note: The rates provided below are only to serve as average estimated figures of the potential earnings that can be made. A model's rate can be either higher or lower and is dependant upon: their agency, the client, type of job, terms of usage, a model's experience, and their reputation in the fashion and modelling industries.
There is a huge list of magazines that models can expect to shoot for when working in Milan. Usually the most common reason why models choose to go to Milan to begin with is to work on their portfolio. With the large amount of editorials and talented photographers in the market, models can expect to leave with at least a couple new tear sheets and tests in their book.
Clients: Gentleman, Toh, Rolling Stone, Antonioli Journal, Alla Carta, GQ Italia, ICON, Book Mod Uomo, Playboy Italia, VOGUE, Vogue Sposa, Red Milk, Punkt, Glamour, Amica, Grazia, Cosmopolitan, Natural Style, Tu Style etc.
Rate: As all models know the rates for editorials are never high, even if they're for a very good magazine. The normal rate for an editorial is usually around a few hundred Euros or less (<€300).
Lookbooks are quite common in Milan and many designers who shoot campaigns will shoot look books as well. From local designers to the luxury brands to online shopping websites, there's a wide range of clients for many models.
Clients: Zegna Sport, Zara, Dsquared2, Prada, Gazzarrini, White Rabbit Couture, Thom Browne, Massimo Giorgetti, and many more.
Rate: Although, the rate can be more depending on the designer, the standard rate for one look book shooting (4-8 hours ) is usually less than €2000.
In Milan, many models end up doing showrooms. Some models choose to stay in Milan and work the showrooms because they offer a stable monthly salary. However, the rate isn't very high and models can earn much more via direct bookings or campaigns.
Even though showrooms offer a more stable salary, it would take a model around six months before they start to generate a solid profit. Even then, the agencies take such a high percentage cut ( 50%) that it isn't really worth their while for the short term.
Clients: Riccardo Grassi, Stuart Weitzman, Juicy Couture, Twenty 8 Twelve, Victoris Beckham Denim, iles, Castaner, Von Vonni, Faith Connexion, and hundreds more.
Rate: The rate for showrooms in Milan is approximately €2000 per month.
There are a large amount of campaigns to be shot in Milano. From campaigns for local designers to larger fashion houses to fragrance & eye wear, there are many different types of clients to shoot for.
However, in order to have the chance of shooting any huge campaign (e.g. Ferragamo, Blumarine, Prada, etc.) models need to be with one of the top agencies in Milano. Many of the larger fashion houses usually only cast with the top agencies in Milan and most of the castings are request only.
Also, by being based out of Milan, many of the agencies have clients all across Europe where models have the opportunity to book campaigns for other European clients from Norway, Portugal, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, etc. Direct bookings can pay upwards of €2000 per day depending on the client.
Clients: Roy Rogers, Cafe Noir, Daniele Fiesoli, Blumarine, Blugirl, Tatras, Byblos, Sisley, Salvatore Ferragamo Eyewear, Oscalito, Millenotti, Artigli, Dolce & Gabbana, Phard, Kelis Fashion, EAN, Fracomina, Floratta Perfume, Albano, Mosaico, Levante, etc.
Rate: The rate for campaigns in Milan vary. Campaigns for local brands can go between €3000-10,000 and upwards of €20,000-30,000 for international campaigns for the larger fashion houses.
Milan is home to some of the world's largest and most prestigious fashion houses. But similarly to campaigns, the top brands (e.g. Gucci, Versace, Missoni etc.) usually only work with the top agencies (e.g. IMG, Women, Next etc.). The castings for these shows are also usually by request only. Milan Fashion Week has two separate fashion weeks for menswear and for women's ready to wear.
Milan Women's Fashion Week:
Spring/Summer – Mid-end of September (e.g. 18-23rd)
Fall/Winter – End of February (e.g. 20-26th)
Clients: Roberto Cavalli, Blumarine, Blugirl, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Balmain, Gucci, Max Mara, Etro, Alberta Ferretti, Anteprima, Bally, Emilio Pucci, Gianfranco Ferre, Missoni, Moschino, Roland Mouret, Sportmax, Trussardi, John Richmond, Iceberg, Serghei Grinko, Lorenzo Riva, Fausto Puglisi, Luisa Beccaria etc.
Milan Men's Fashion Week:
Spring/Summer Men's– End of June (e.g. 21-25th)
Fall/Winter – End of February (e.g. 20-26th)
Clients: Andrea Pompilio, Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni, Cavin Klein, Diesel, Dsquared2, Emporio Armani, Giorgio Armani, Fendi, Jil Sander, Marni, Salvatore Ferragamo, Trussardi, Zegna etc.
Rates: The rates for shows in Milan vary depending on the designers. Most shows tend to not pay very much unless you're walking for the likes of Gucci or Versace. On average though a runway show can pay anywhere between €400-1000. Some designers might offer “trade” - giving the model a garment from the designer's collection as an exchange for walking in their show.
Few lucky models get an exclusive; when a designer hires a model for a show and that model is only allowed to walk for that one designer. Exclusives can pay upwards of €20,000. Although they pay very well, exclusives are rare and don't happen often. A couple famous designers renowned for their exclusive bookings are Calvin Klein and Prada.
The best season to go to work in Milan, if you're planning to do runway, is the the beginning of February and beginning of September. If you're a male runway model, you'll want to go at the beginning of June. This will give you enough time to do castings in order to do the shows.
Other good times to go to Milan are during the warmer months (May-July) as well as during the fall (September-November).
There are a lot of agencies in Milan and a lot that are really strong. It's important to find an agency that fits you so that you can meet the best clients and get promoted properly. Although Milan is home to some of the top agencies in the world, sometimes it's better to be with an agency that's a little smaller because they might give you the attention you deserve. In order to be a successful model in Milan, you need to not only have the right look and personality, but an agency pushing you to clients.
Brave – A division of D'Management
Note: The Business Model does not necessarily endorse any of the above agencies. The following list is to serve as a directory so that models may be aware of the current active agencies in the market. Before signing with any agency, TBM encourages all models to read contracts carefully.
Public Transportation - Like many parts of Europe, the public transportation in Milano is very good, reliable, and is the preferred method of getting around the city. In comparison to Hamburg, the public transportation in Milano is very affordable. A standard issue ticket starts at €1.50 and is valid for 90 minutes for unlimited rides on all public transport services. There is also the option of purchasing a pass at one of the metro stations that costs only €30 per month. This gives you access to taking the metro, tram, as well as the buses all around Milano.
Driving/Taxis – Driving and taxi's are the least recommended method of transportation in Milano. The roads are often congested, parking is difficult to find, and it's very expensive.
Bicycle/BikeMi – BikeMi is a great and very affordable way to get around Milano. To use the BikeMi services, you can register on their website online and will have to use your credit card. Once your transaction has been approved, you'll be sent a user name and password to use at any one of the BikeMi stations. There are over 100 stations scattered around the city and you can drop the bike off at one that's nearest you.
The cost for using the BikeMi service is very affordable. The rate for renting out a bike is €2.50 per day and the first 30 minutes are free. After that, each additional cost is €0.50 cents per half hour. There are also passes available for €6.00 per week
Motorbike/Vespa – Many people choose to use a Vespa or motorbike to get around Milan. Although it's a fun way to get around the city, it isn't recommended. Many of the motorbike riders in Milan drive incredibly fast and they can be dangerous. If you plan to ride or be on a motorbike or Vespa, be cautious and wear a helmet.
Words of Advice
Be aware of the showroom trap – Many models who go to Milan end up working showrooms. This is because showrooms provide the agency with a stable form of income every month. Some agencies in Milan will try to convince their models to stay so they can keep working showrooms and making more money for the agency. Although the agency benefits from this, the model does not and ends up losing out on other jobs and potential earnings. If a model wants to do well in Milan, they should avoid showrooms and put their focus on editorial work, test shoots, look books, and any other shoots for Italian clients.
Forget the competition – Being such a huge market, the competition in Milan is incredibly high. There are many beautiful models from all across the world who will be up for the same jobs as you. But it's important for you to do your best and to ignore the competition. Yes there might be some models who might have longer legs than you or a stronger portfolio but they're not you. If you're confident, stay focused on yourself, and show some personality, clients will see that and remember you over the others.
Learn how to walk – When you're in Milan and you plan to do fashion week, learn how to walk. Castings during fashion week are hectic where a few hundred models can attend the same casting the same day. These are known as, “cattle calls.” You will want to do your absolute best to stand out amongst the other models and your confidence in your walk is very important. Take cues from catwalk queens like Gisele Bundchen, Naomi Campbell, and Karlie Kloss for inspiration.
Test, test, test - Milan has a lot of talented photographers in the city. If you're a new face or looking to update your book, Milan is a great market to get photos. Even if you have a good portfolio already, it's never a bad idea to have more photos. You never know how another photographer might see you and you could end up with some amazing new shots.
Educate yourself – Know the designers you might be working with. If you have a casting for the likes of Giorgio Armani or Versace, take the time to learn the history about the fashion house, who is currently the head designer, what looks or styles they're famous for etc. It's important to know who you're working
Dress well - If you have a casting for Prada and you're wearing cut offs and flip flops, it's not going to work. Don't underestimate the power that a pair of good fitting jeans or a well tailored blouse can have. You don't need to buy expensive clothes in order to have stye but you need to put in an effort. You are your own product and you need to market yourself to the client appropriately.
Hand gestures – Italians love to use hand gestures in everyday conversation. Italian hand gestures originate as far back as the 14th century where Italy was under foreign occupation by countries like Austria and Spain. They used gestures as a method to communicate amongst themselves so they couldn't be understood. Although to some people might find them amusing, it's a huge part of Italian culture. Take the time to watch how Italians converse with one another and be aware of your own gestures as well.
Double Taxation – When you're working in Europe, be sure to check the double taxation laws that exist between your host country and the country you're working in e.g. Milano. You don't want to end up having to pay taxes in two countries if it's not necessary. In order to prove that you're paying taxes in one country, you'll need a tax certificate that shows you're paying taxes in another country.
Milan is a great place for a model to build their portfolio. There are many photographers who offer test shoots and there is a large amount of magazines to shoot for. If you feel you need some new photos in your portfolio, discuss organizing some test shoots with your agency if they haven't already proposed it to you already. You can always write down a couple of the names listed below and see if any of the photographers offer any creatives or tests.
Below is a list of some of the photographers you might work with on a job. Some of the photographers travel across Europe and the Americas often but do have a base in Milan.
The photographers include: Giampaolo Sgura, Matteo Cherubino, Silvia Puntino, Riccardo Meroni, Paolo Zerbini, Giulia Taboni, Fabio Abecassis, Daniel Mais, Reda Rusty, Gian Paolo Barbeiri, Simone Lezzi, Daniela Guccini, Fabiano Salvai, Marco Marezza, Maurizio Montani etc.
Agency Commission: 50% - excluding mother agency's 10%
Currency Exchange: € 1.00 EURO : $1.37 CDN
Expenses Advanced: Some
Most agencies in Milan will advance a model's accommodations as well as their weekly pocket money. Some agencies might also advance a model's airfare if they really think they will find success in the market, but most models cannot count on this.
Offer Guarantee: No
Agencies in Milan don't offer models guaranteed contracts. The competition in Europe is incredibly high and agencies cannot guarantee that a model will work. Guarantees are only ever given to models who travel to some markets in Asia (e.g. Tokyo, Shanghai, and Seoul).
Standard Contract: 60-90 days
Visa Status: Work Visa Required
Models who are from the EU are exempt from obtaining a work permit.
Languages Spoken: Italian/English
Although the main language is Italian, many clients and people in Milano's city centre do speak English. Models should have little trouble ordering food at restaurants or asking for assistance. Models may run into a bit of a language barrier if they're travelling into smaller cities on the outskirts of Milan.
Model Apartments: Poor/Fair
The model apartments in Milan are less than ideal. Often times, there can be 6-8 models in one cramped and older apartment making it hard to have any personal space. Some agencies have better apartments than others but most tend to be quite small as well as expensive.
Models who have been to the market before usually like to find their own flat as it ends up being a lot cheaper for them. A typical single or even double bedroom in Milan can cost between 400-600 $CDN) per month, making it much more affordable. Especially if you plan to share a flat with a friend or significant other.
If you're interested, Air BnB is the most popular website to find an affordable apartment. There are also sometimes models in the Facebook group,”Model Access”, who offer up their flats for rent for models who are interested.
For models not familiar with the city or not wanting to take the risk, staying in the model apartment might be a better idea the first time around.
People: Most models will find Italians to be incredibly warm, charming, and friendly people. They're very respectful towards one another and would appreciate it if you acted in the sae manner towards them. Italians love people with personality who are positive and enjoy life so be sure to let the best you shine through.