The View magazine hooked up with Alicia Torres, former agent, talent rep and producer, now photographer. How she rolled into the business, making transitions, her career and learning moments, and much more.
TV: Hi Alicia! Tell us a bit about you.
AT: I was born and raised in Zaragoza, Spain. I was the third of three girls with a very strict father, military man and policeman, and a very loving and communicative mother, very wise and knowledgeable. I could ask her whatever I wanted and she would always have an interesting answer. She loved to read history and geography books and would enthrall us with amazing stories from all around the world. I think I became the dreamer I am today thanks to my Mom.
I was a bit of a tomboy as a child always playing with the boy’s outdoors, but I studied with the girls at home. I made selective choices and was always sure of my decisions, the leader without wanting to be one. I never had a problem taking the initiative and guiding others even if I wasn’t too sure of what was happening. Always trusting, never afraid of anything although I could also be shy. As my father always wanted a son, I was the closest he got to his dream. Subsequently, I was the beneficiary of his manly advice. Thankfully, I am often reminded by my friends of my feminine qualities even if I do whistle like a truck driver for cabs!
I played handball as a goalie for years after school and at 15 I started dancing as a local basketball cheerleader. We trained for many hours a week and were very disciplined. Our coaches were always from the US and came from amazing college and professional teams like Memphis State University and the Los Angeles Lakers. One of our coaches was Janet Jackson’s choreographer for her Rhythm Nation tour. I was fortunate to meet and work with quite a few talented choreographers. I learned about dedication, discipline and hard work, which I have carried with me throughout all of my experiences.
At 18, I left Spain to find my own path and to experience more diverse cultures other then my own. In the first five years alone, I lived in London, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Brussels, Paris and Milan. I learned to speak four new languages and continued my studies abroad in marketing, communication, graphic design, and photography.
TV: When was the first time you got in touch with creativity, and how has this made an impact on you?
AT: I really excelled in technical drawing class; I started developing a strange obsession for lines, geometric figures, and abstract design. I would spend hours happily doing my homework for that class. One of my hobbies was to make floor plans for condos and houses. I also translated songs I liked from famous singers and bands in English or French. I liked to learn the lyrics so I could understand what I was singing, I always needed to understand something to be able to learn it well. I kept journals of my travels and experiences and continue to this day. I find that it keeps my mind clear and I sleep better as a result. I highly recommend it for insomnia.
TV: What kind of jobs did you have before entering the fashion world?
AT: While studying I worked as a waitress, Haagen-Dazs, PR for famous Spanish beachside nightclubs during the summer months. I was a translator and hostess at European trade shows. I would do anything to keep moving and learning as long as it was decent and well paid.
TV: Then you became a model agent, how did that came along?
AT: At 24 years old, my older sister who lived in New York, moved to Barcelona where I was living at the time. She closed a huge software deal with one of her clients, which happened to be a modeling agency. My older sister worked in fashion for years and even had her own modeling agency in Milan. Actually, both of my sisters worked as models at one time.The middle sister became an Art Director and designor and the older one an entrepreneur.
My older sister introduced me to the director of the Men’s division of Traffic Models, one of the most famous modeling agencies in Spain. He heard me speaking English on the phone with my American brother-in-law and fell in love with my accent, looks and character. The following week I started working as his personal assistant working in the fashion business. I was living life!
TV: Tell us about your career as a model agent. What were the key learning moments, the biggest challenges and how did you tackle them, absolute highlights?
AT: I will say this, it wasn’t as wonderful and glamorous as I thought it would be. It was fun, but also with very demanding hours and filled with very needy and insecure people. It could be draining at times but I learned to adapt very quickly and always tried to maintain a good attitude, and eventually became a very good agent.
I was the PA of a very successful and famous man who loved his job and was passionate about his work. He was a perfectionist and tough to deal with sometimes but also a kind and considerate man. Working for him prepared me for the business world better then any university I could of attended.
Highlights? Keep your personal life yours and try and look at everyone around you with compassion and empathy. They look perfect yes, but they have insecurities, feelings and dreams just like everyone else. I have met some wonderful people in this business some being very talented models that were quite successful and very astute business people. So in the end the highlight for me is knowing I went out of my way to treat people well and helped them to achieve their ambitions and professional goals.
TV: Then you moved to production. You really wanted to be more hands-on and involved in the creative output?
AT: Again it happened organically. I never looked for that change but with all my skills of being a models agent for eight years, speaking four languages, graphic design, photography, together I got an offer to start helping the Production Director of one of the leading photography agencies in Barcelona called Gianfranco Meza. We represented very famous photographers. We produced monthly editorials for Harpers Bazaar, Vogue, Glamour, Elle, and Campaigns for famous brands such as Mango, Zara, Massimo Dutti, Loewe, El Corte Ingles, Oysho, Morgan, Naf Naf, Nina Ricci. I loved it! It was exhausting but it was very fulfilling for me each day and to me that is a good situation to find oneself in.
I had the opportunity to work on high quality fashion productions and learn from the best mentor I could possibly hope to work and learn from. She was a Russian woman who I absolutely adored and who was gracious enough to share her wealth of knowledge and contacts and to give me the instant credibility I needed because of my association with her, to launch my career. I am very honored and privileged to have had the good fortune of her friendship and guidance.
TV: Can you share about some of your experiences?
AT: The most important work experience I had was in July 2013 in New York. I was working for an international fashion brand from South America as their Executive Producer and Director of Communications. After a full year of meetings with agents of top models around the globe, iconic photographers agents and visiting cities like Paris, London, New York, Miami and Los Angeles, we made the decision to hire Linda Evangelista and photographers Luigi & Iango in NYC. They were perfect for our target and concept of the brand. Additionally I was also involved in the creative direction with the photographers, designer and his crew. When we had the concept and clear vision of the pictures we wanted to get, I started the pre-production which lasted weeks and when we wrapped I felt free and blessed.
That campaign was extremely fulfilling for me as a producer and the most rewarding work experience thus far in my career. I had the honor to meet and work with many talented people who have worked at the highest levels in the fashion business for years. I have nothing but good memories regarding my work experiences in New York.
TV: And then you did art buying and talent representation?
AT: I must have good energy around me because I always seemed to attract the right opportunity and people at the right time. After I resigned my position with Patric Love, I spoke to a photographer friend in Spain and he told me about the job Wilhelmina Models was offering for an Artists Agent in LA where I was living at the time. I met the directors of the Artists division in Miami. I had the right skill set they were looking for; they had the right job, which I was prepared for. I started one month after the interview working from their LA office.
Repping models, photographers and talent are very similar so for me the transition was quite easy.
TV: With all these different roles, you must be quite a chameleon?
AT: Many of my friends have referred to me as “The Chameleon”. I have a natural way of blending into new situations and I am very adaptable and a survivor. It is a matter of attitude, as I mentioned before, I have never been afraid of anything. Changes and taking risks can only bring you wisdom and more experience.
When you find yourself doing something new, you decide if you are passionate enough to keep moving forward with it or not. For the moment I will keep going with the flow and taking on what life throws my way. One of my life mantra’s is “Never stop exploring”. It is inspiring and liberating to open yourself to new and different challenges. As humans we are born with many gifts, some people decide to develop them, others let fear get in the way. Fair enough, I understand not everyone has an open heart and mind or are just afraid of change. I just try and follow my own dreams and thirst for adventure and knowledge and keep evolving as person.
TV: New move on the horizon?
AT: Recently I decided to move back to Barcelona and pursue my photography seriously. For me it is a natural progression creatively. I have been encouraged by my photographer friends and they tell me I possess a very good eye for composition and a fresh perspective. My life is a series of snapshots so why not present life as I view it through the lens of my ever faithful Leica.
When I was repping models I loved taking their digitals, I had fun, I liked it so much that it evidently showed as my shots ended up getting many models cast. That was cool!
As I happen to love architecture, design, art, my minimalistic view of life influenced my love of all things lineal. I am so symmetric and meticulous that it definitely shows in my photos.
I also love humanity. I love to capture the essence of people in general when I photograph them; I don’t care what they do for work, if they are older, younger, rich or poor, pretty, ugly, everyone has a story to tell and I want to capture that story, that moment.
TV: Thanks Alicia!
Interview minimally edited to keep authenticity.
Images are copyright to their respective owners (Nico, Eugenio Recuenco, Harper’s Bazaar Spain, El Pais Semanal, V Magazine).
Images are copyright to Alicia Torres.
Check out Alicia’s Insta.