Agent of Change: The Man Who Manages Some of Fashion’s Finest
New York fashion week kicked off under tough conditions for high-heel lovers. Melting snow and dirty pools of water have taken over the Manhattan streets, making any fashion-conscious person choose practicality over aesthetics. The show must go on, though, and the industry crowd is buzzing around town and diving head-on into the first week of the fashion calendar. As my first season in NYC represented by creative talent agency Management + Artists (M+A), I met up with agency founder Massimiliano Di Battista, a well-known and respected figure in the industry, for a quick chat about what being an agent in fashion involves these days.
You founded the agency with Marco Fincato nearly fifteen years ago. Where did the idea come from?
The idea for the agency came from the desire to set up a different way of agenting in the fashion and luxury industry; an approach based on a service-oriented model for the clients and very strong creative development for talents. I wanted to establish a way of agenting that was more about the business and content than the personality of the agent.
What was your background before you started the agency?
I studied business and politics, but I came from an artists’ family. My mother is a painter, and my father is an architect. I grew up knowing the complexities that artists face in their career and the market.
M+A’s head office is in NYC. Why did you choose this city at first?
Actually, M+A started by opening doors in both NYC and Paris at the same time. The reason behind this choice was that from the beginning, we were aware of the global nature of our industry. We have always represented artists worldwide and exclusively. We promote each artist with an individual and yet global vision, one voice and one approach. Consistency is one of the key elements of success.
Have you seen major changes in NYC since you moved here first? If yes, in what ways?
I have lived in NYC for more than fifteen years, and I have seen the city change and evolve. We have been through both exhilarating and difficult times. I was here on September 11 and saw the impact it had on the city, including the amazing sense of solidarity and resilience that ensued.
Then there was the rebuilding and the economic highs. The city was flooded with money, and then [came] the scary economic crash of 2008. NYC is like a roller coaster that goes through extremes. This is what makes the city exciting, vibrant, and unique, even if it can be daring at times. Still, nowadays, when I walk down the street, I feel the excitement, energy, diversity, beauty, [and] uniqueness of the people of NYC.
You represent a roster of top fashion talents. Are you still enjoying what being an agent has to offer?
I am as excited today, being an agent, as I was on the first day I started. I am thrilled to see the talents grow and develop. I am excited when we negotiate very important contracts, and I am as involved as in the beginning in the creative and business process of all the talents. I always felt that the day I would just sit and wait for things to happen should be the day to make a radical change.
You just started a music-direction department within the agency, with me being its first talent. What is your vision on this?
Music is a new venture for us, a section that we want to invest in and see grow. As our industry is increasingly communicating through moving images and fashion films, music has become an intrinsic part of the creative process. Music helps tell a fashion film’s narrative, creates the mood, and gives feeling to the piece. Nothing like a great music piece will make a fashion video feel more beautiful, dramatic, or sensual. And music is an essential element for all designers when they think and conceptualize their shows and presentations.
What are the next big challenges for M+A?
The Web and the new media associated with it is a fascinating and unresolved challenge. Creating relevant content specifically for the Web is definitely the challenge that now awaits our industry. This will imply the development of special new skills in creating imagery, visuals, and music for this new media. I know that what I am saying is not original, but I am aware that what is out now on the Internet for the fashion and luxury industry is only at 10 percent of its true potential. We are looking forward to developing a new breed of artists who will be able to create striking original and groundbreaking content.
For more information, visit www.managementartists.com.
Photo: Victor Demarchelier