Most of us know Nole Marin as the outspoken judge and foil to supermodel Janice Dickinson’s outrageous verbosities on America’s Next Top Model. Though the snappy exchanges between Nole and Janice made good fodder for the blogosphere and increased visibility for ANTM, Nole Marin is so much more than the master of clever repartee. Fashion insiders know that for over a decade Nole Marin has styled the likes of supermodels Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, and Cindy Crawford, as well as some of Hollywood’s key players.
Recognized as a fashion expert when it comes to runway fashion and editorials, Nole is taking his encyclopedic knowledge of fashion to those who need it most, the many young girls who want a modeling career but have no idea how to get there. With Nole Marin’s Model Workshops, Nole is adding another gem to his repertoire of accomplishments. And as with all his endeavors, honesty is key, but tempered with warmth and purpose.
Nole Marin took time out of his very hectic schedule to talk to the Fashion Spot about his love of fashion, fashion reality shows, and all the new projects on his horizon.
Is Nole Marin your birth name?
Nole Marin: Nole is actually my nickname that I created into my first name. My real first name is Manuel. Marin is my middle name.
How did you first become interested in fashion?
Nole Marin: As a young kid I used to flip through fashion magazines and dress my cousin Elena in tablecloths and hold fashion shows for my family.
When you went to Fashion Industry High School did you know what career you wanted to have in fashion?
Nole Marin: Well, I thought I would become a designer, but after high school I embarked upon a singing career. I later worked for a modeling agency as a booking agent, and that is where I met Nigel Barker – when he was still modeling. I actually referred Nigel Barker to ANTM. Anyway, I worked as a booking agent for about two years and then I started to freelance as a runway show producer. Around 1995, I transitioned into fashion styling. In a nutshell, I just knew I wanted to be around fashion. I loved the glamour, the models, and the industry as a whole.
You have worked at several publications as an editor, could you talk about that?
Nole Marin: There is a lot of incorrect information online about my work experience. Some sources say I was an editor at Elle Magazine, which is incorrect. I did freelance at Elle on a couple of projects but I was never on staff. I did work for T Magazine as a fashion editor; however, most of work in the industry has been as a fashion stylist. I have styled Hugh Jackman, Ricky Martin, and many Oscar-nominated actors and celebrities.
How did your affiliation with Tyra Banks and ANTM come about?
Nole Marin: I’ve known Jay Manuel for over 12 years, and he introduced me to Tyra because he thought I was funny. Tyra asked me to come on ANTM as a stylist for one episode during Cycle 2. I was very relaxed and natural on the show and said really funny, witty things like calling one of the contestants a walrus in chiffon. Anyway, everyone liked my humor, and I was asked to come back for other appearances during that cycle that later turned into a regular gig as a judge on Cycles 3 and 4.
Could you talk about your tenure at ANTM and those legendary battles with Janice Dickinson?
Nole Marin: Janice is amazing and I love her to death. We are both media savvy, and realized that if we were always genteel towards each other, that would not have made good television. Although ANTM is a reality television show, it is edited for effect. Janice and I spiced up ANTM and gave the show some needed hype and heat.
There has been a plethora of fashion reality shows since the inception of ANTM, Launch My Line, Project Runway, Make Me a Supermodel, and many others. What is your opinion of these shows?
Nole Marin: When I started on ANTM over six years ago, everyone told me that being on that show would ruin my career. I was told that I would never again be taken seriously in the fashion industry. Now, many years later, everybody wants to be on a fashion reality show – stylists, models, photographers, designers, you name it. I take my hat off to Tyra Banks because everyone that was on ANTM the first couple of years really pioneered this genre. Though everyone told us not to do it, we did it anyway. We broke ground for this new wave of reality shows.
ANTM has been coined the reality show of the decade, and I am honored to have been a part of it all. The problem with this new wave of reality shows is that people now go on these shows to get their 15 minutes of fame. They expect these shows to turn them into bona fide celebrities. That was not our intention in the early cycles of ANTM. We had all worked around real Hollywood royalty so we knew what the difference was. I don’t consider myself a celebrity because I know what a real celebrity is. I am very comfortable with who I am and what I have accomplished in this industry.
One of the major critiques of fashion reality shows is that the genre does not reflect the fashion industry. What is your opinion?
Nole Marin: Of course these shows don’t reflect the industry. How could they? ANTM contestants are 18 years of age and older. Most major models in the industry start around the age of 15 or 16. ANTM would have to get parental consent if we got younger contestants, and that opens up a whole can of worms for the producers of the show. These shows are audience-driven, and only show some elements of the industry.
What is the next big trend in fashion?
Nole Marin: Over the last couple of seasons we have seen high-end designers create secondary or third-tier lines for lower priced retail stores. For example, you have Anna Sui and Rodarte for Target and Christian Siriano for Payless. Ten years ago these designers would not be caught dead in these stores, but the economy has caused them to rethink their brands. I believe this trend will continue.
Could you talk about Runway Magazine and your position there?
Nole Marin: Runway Magazine is a new publication, and I am their fashion editor. It’s in the infancy stage and hopefully the publication will develop into something of value.
I understand that you will be conducting some model workshops, could you talk about that?
Nole Marin: I have been going to model workshops, schools and conventions all over the country and I’ve discovered that many of these institutions are ripping young ladies off and don’t really know much about the industry. Some of these young ladies are forking over thousands of dollars to so-called industry professionals who have never actually worked in the profession. Well, I am out to change that.
I have worked with some of the top models in the industry, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Tyra Banks and Cindy Crawford, just to name a few. I have been on major fashion shoots, I have art directed, and I have produced runway shows. So, I know what it takes.
I have created Nole Marin Model Workshops, which provides young ladies correct and relevant modeling information. We make no guarantees of success, but we give you the right tools for the industry. We will have guest speakers, top designers, top stylists, and top photographers come in and facilitate this learning module. We will be giving individual, hands-on attention to all the participants. And we will be coming to six cities in the U.S. in 2010.
When will your workshops be available?
Nole Marin: We will start workshops in NYC in March, and on the West Coast in May.
Could you talk about how you got to know Cheetah Girls author Deborah Gregory, and your character in her Catwalk series?
Nole Marin: I met Deborah some years back when she was writing celebrity profiles for Essence Magazine and some other publications, and we discovered that we lived a couple of blocks from each other. We became great friends ,and while she was working on her book, Cheetah Girls, we would sometimes meet for coffee and she would read me chapters from her draft. So, when she was creating this new book, Catwalk, she asked me to delve deep and relate a lot of my personal history. Deborah used some of my personal history to create one of the characters, Nolie Canolie, in the Catwalk series. (Catwalk revolves around four best friends at Manhattan’s Fashion International High School who compete in a high-stakes designer competition. Kids Cable Channel TeenNick has optioned the rights to Catwalk.) Deborah dedicated the first book in the series to me, which I thought was quite sweet of her.
What’s next for you?
Nole Marin: I will be launching my Nole Marin Model workshops sometime in March 2010. I will be back on ANTM in April, and I am pitching some fashion reality shows to the networks.