Former President of NEXT Management Modeling Agency Kyle Hagler Speaks On Fashion's Inclusive Future
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Kyle Hagler (@kylehagler), former president of modeling agency NEXT Management, speaks to EDITION Editor-in-Chief Isoul Hussein Harris about his historic past and fashion’s inclusive future.
Naomi Campbell in 1990 PHOTO BY RICHARD CORKERY/NY DAILY NEWS VIA GETTY IMAGES
You are a pioneer in the modeling agency space. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Following in the footsteps of Bethann Hardison and David Bosman, as the former president of NEXT Models, I was the only Black head of a top international modeling agency during my tenure. I hope that my work will open up more doors for people of color to pursue careers in model management and beyond at the highest levels. I am also proud of my groundbreaking collaboration with the model Liya Kebede. I was instrumental in ushering in Liya as the first woman of color to represent Estée Lauder’s global advertising in the storied brand’s 50-plus-year history. But, most importantly, in addition to Liya, I had the privilege to amplify and grow the careers of such dynamic individuals as Naomi Campbell, Joan Smalls, Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Shalom Harlow, Anok Yai and countless others. I protected their personal space, which enabled them to achieve incredible goals while maintaining their integrity in this highly competitive industry.
Thierry Mugler’s fall/winter 1997/1998 haute couture collection. PHOTO BY PIERRE VAUTHEY/SYGMA VIA GETTY IMAGES
I am sure that while you achieved majorly, you also had major fun. Yes?
Fortunately, I always have fun while working—especially in the context of fashion. Iconic memories include helping Naomi Campbell organize her 40th birthday party in the south of France where the legendary Grace Jones sang her classic rendition of ‘La Vie En Rose’ while emerging from a birthday cake, and there have been great creative exchanges with such fashion luminaries like Stephen Gan, Inez & Vinoodh, Karl Lagerfeld, Edward Enninful, Alastair McKimm and Carlos Nazario while in Paris.
Joan Smalls walking in Rihanna’s 2021 Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3 presented by Amazon Prime Video PHOTO BY KEVIN MAZUR/GETTY IMAGES
We both knew the cultural force known as Mr. André Leon Talley. What is the importance of his life and legacy?
Mr. Talley was a maverick. He was the only Black person of influence working on that high a level in fashion when he started. Mr. Talley dared to be a fashion creative, influencer in the truest sense of the word, and media instigator—and did it! Not only did he accomplish his goal, but he did so on the grandest accord. Watching Mr. Talley’s movements and success in fashion allowed others, like me, to have similar successes in the same spaces and beyond.
Grace Jones in 1977. PHOTO BY BETTMANN/ GETTY IMAGES
What is the importance of Virgil Abloh?
Virgil was a wildly transformative angel walking among us! He advocated for and celebrated his community while bringing that community to every exercise he engaged in successfully. His energy will cause cultural shifts and understandings eternally. He also mastered the art of opening doors for young creatives to come through and create real collaboration and impact across all industries.
Anok Yai attends the 100th-anniversary exhibition of Vogue Paris in Paris, France, on Oct. 1, 2021 PHOTO BY ANTHONY GHNASSIA/GETTY IMAGES
We also lost the indomitable Thierry Mugler. Few know how instrumental Mugler was to Black models’ careers, including Iman and a very young Tracee Ellis Ross.
Yes, Thierry Mugler’s appreciation of body positivity and the beauty of Black and brown people was exercised through inclusive collaborations with his muses until his dying day. He also worked with Cardi B, Kim Kardashian West, Beyoncé, Naomi, Iman and Jerry Hall.
Who is the next big model?
Anok (like ‘Rock’) Yai.
How will the pages of fashion’s next chapter read?
Fashion has always been an ideal playground for the innovative. Moving forward, it is imperative that all beings in the fashion universe work with collaboration as the center point for image-making and cultural impact. Furthermore, we must all possess a global appreciation of beauty and an acceptance of technology as the conduit for expansion.