Ugli Meets...Ugly Models

Ugli Meets...Ugly Models

Ugli Meets... is a new feature that aims to bring you closer to the businesses who inhabit the Ugli Campus. The real variety of industries makes Ugli stand out from other similar spaces in London. From fashion and music to production and media, one thing that ties everyone together is the sense of community and collaboration. Now it's time to get to know our Uglies!

To kick things off, who better than Ugli newbies, Ugly Models.

Who Are Ugly Models?

Ugly Models are the UK's foremost character model agency, born in 1969 by two fashion photographers who placed an ad looking for people with a 'unique appearance', having become bored with shooting the same old lifeless, stick-thin models. Instead, they wanted to shoot people with character and individuality, unconventional from what was popular at the time. The ad resulted in a huge public response, they've never had to advertise since and the Ugly brand has seen continued growth over the years, currently with over 2000 models of all shapes and sizes.

You may have caught their story on television as Channel 5 made a three part documentary in 2009, about life at Ugly, and following chairman, Marc, as he ventured to Stateside to open up a New York branch of the agency. More recently, they had a German production company shooting on campus for another documentary and looking to the future, they're currently in discussion with an American production crew about yet another show depicting the crazy antics at Ugly.

When Ugli Met Ugly!

This Ugli love affair hasn't always been as smooth as it may appear. Ugly Models were knocking on the Ugli door for almost 3 years, however due to a lack of suitably sized office space, weren't able to move in until July 2013, but as the saying goes, 'good things come to those who wait', and according to head honcho, Marc French, "it was well worth the wait!".

When asked what is it about the Ugli Campus that you find so appealing, Marc answered, "we love the fact that we're part of a media centre with such a great vibe. The community element is also important to us, we've already worked with one of our neighbours in the building and we plan to collaborate again in the future. We like to think that our door is always open for clients and neighbours alike".

Ugly Models may have only been at Ugli for 6 months or so, however they've already got stuck in with the community spirit of the campus, as Marc mentioned, they have already worked with fellow Ugli's, Finiks, on a photo shoot and have previously collaborated with Nylon Films and Knickerbocker Glory. They were also kind enough to lend their photography studio to Ugli for the Halloween BOOze Schmooze and were on hand to snap everyone who attended this ghoulish networking event. Check out the photos HERE . As if that wasn't enough, Marc and his partner in crime, Coxy, are always willing to pop by the Ugli Office for a good ol' chinwag. Just what we like to see from our Uglies.

Who Runs The Show?

Marc French is the larger than life character who sits at the top of the tree at Ugly, although he's  not taken what you'd imagine to be the usual route to the top. Kicking off his career in the 80s as a  model/dancer, Marc signed for Ugly Models at the age of 22. Now, it should be noted that by this  point the agency were booking more conventional-looking models under the name, Rage Models,  in addition to their roster of peculiar people, so as far as we know Marc doesn't have any strange  piercings or secret tattoos about his person, although we could be wrong.

Having worked as a model for 10 years, Marc thought it was time to start flexing his business    muscles and after 3 years of running Rage, he was asked to join Ugly Models as a partner. By    1996, Marc's entrepreneurial hunger kicked in, and he offered to buy out the remaining partners    and take full control of Ugly Models.

The timing of Marc's offer couldn't have been better, as the mid 90s signalled a change in attitudes  towards modelling. Every industry from TV and print to fashion and film wanted to use character    models. Marc and his Ugly brand were at the forefront of this revolution and it's fair to say that    they pioneered the trend that has been growing year after year.

Ugly Model's Finest Hour?

Listing all of the agency's proudest moments would literally take all day, however here are few moments that particularly stand out. Ugly provided all of the extras and background actors for the classic British gangster flick, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, as well as Guy Ritchie's other early gangster flicks. They've also got a long standing relationship with the James Bond franchise, supplying all the character models for every single film since Octopussy. Does that include the dentally challenged villain, Jaws? Ugly Models were part of the pioneering 80s music video, 'Cry' by Godlee and Creme, providing the characters for the (at the time) groundbreaking computer generated morphing technique.

More recent musical clients include Katie Perry and serial twerker, Myley Cyrus. And just to top it off, Ugly have also been known to rub shoulders with the creme de la creme of the fashion world, working with both Mario Testino and David Bailey on their respective fashion shoots.

On a more general level, Marc mentions that his agency have never ever turned a job away, even when he was asked to supply 10 sumo wrestlers that he didn't have on his books. Undeterred, Marc trawled the streets of London, looking for suitably peculiar people to fill the roles and came up trumps in the kitchens of China Town. Surely the epitome of getting a job done, hands-on style!

So Where Now?

In true entrepreneurial spirit, Marc is looking to catapult Ugly Models to the next level and take his brand worldwide. With branding and franchises on the horizon, there's no stopping the Ugly juggernaut that's set to come hurtling through a town near you!

In addition to the success of the business, Marc's also keen to show how his brand can have a positive impact on the lives of many people who don't necessarily have the confidence within themselves to to be themselves. Ugly Models have proven that you don't have to be beautiful in the conventional sense to make a living out of modelling, but character, personality and individuality count for so much more and prove that there's a place in the modelling world for everyone. A very poignant message considering society's media-led obsession with looking 'photoshop perfect'.

For more information on Ugly Models, head over to their website