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International Model Management


Aryka Noble,
on Madame Figaro
7:50 p.m. I don't know if I can watch the video again. I'm sitting between two Toronto photographers this time. On my left is Babar Khan, recently repatriated from extended stays in Paris and New York, and on my right is Koby X, one of a tsunami of young, talented photographers that have flooded Toronto's fashion scene lately. He had messaged me on Facebook a month before to ask what to expect. I lean over now and ask him if it resembles my description. "Almost exactly!" he replies.

It's as Miller would want it. The 24-minute video, now showing for the second time today, was filmed, edited and dubbed completely by the high-energy, former gymnast. In fact, nearly everything to do with IMM comes from Miller's tireless efforts, from the agency's website, to scouting, training, placements, and even the P.R., which she does with amazing effectiveness (so well does Miller do her job that another Ontario agency has sent a representative today, to ask her to handle their international placements). All this, while she raises a teenage boy and a daughter who is not yet two.

Although I'm bored with the video, let's be honest, it isn't meant to impress me. I already know Miller's achievements. This presentation is designed to show those people that have never been to the event how a girl like Aryka Noble, who entered this very search three years ago, can go from a night at the ROXX to consecutive covers of Madame Figaro.

Andi Muise with Michèle Miller
Right now it's old footage of a very tired looking Stam when she still had short, dark hair. We're sitting in the back seat of a car and with sleepy eyes she's blowing me kisses and telling me she loves me. It's very sweet.

If the video appears to favour Stam and Muise a bit more than the others, there's good reason. Not only are these the two best known names on the IMM roster, they're also evidence of Miller's prowess. Neither girl, to the untrained eye, screamed of being a sure thing. But Miller - undeniably one of the best pure scouts in the business - saw what others wouldn't, and invested.

The pay-off has come over the last few years, but most notably in November when the pair claimed two of the hallowed 27 spots at the most recent Victoria's Secret fashion show (the most high-profile fashion show on the planet, thank-you-very-much). For Muise it was a second straight appearance. For Stam it was a first, adding one more accomplishment to one of the most impressive modelling résumés in the world.

A farm girl from Kincardine, Stammy was discovered in 2001 when Miller confronted her at a Tim Horton's. As legend suggests, Miller saw those remarkable eyes and decided this girl was worth the time and effort. Under Miller's direction, she won the L.A. Looks modelling contest the following year, and was promised a $100,000 modelling contact with New York Model Management as her reward. Things didn't work out however, and before long the contract was voided and Stam found herself with IMG. The switch led to a massive, and ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit directed at Miller, and although it took a lot of her energy (and, she says, more than $200,000) it taught her "if you keep with your morals and stand up for what you believe in, all will work out in the end. My proudest moment was getting the judge's three paragraph closing of the case."