New year, new model movements. First up: a couple of major names are currently AWOL from the websites of two of Australia’s biggest model agencies, Viviens Model Management and Chic Management. The big question - just where are Gemma Ward and Abbey Lee Kershaw headed?
Although IMG Models Australia had "nothing to report" about Ward at press time, well-placed sources tell frockwriter that Ward - who, in spite of the fact that she has not modelled for some time, nevertheless hitherto continued to be repped in Australia by Viviens, and outside the country by IMG Models - signed with IMG Models’ new Australian division three weeks ago. We understand her pictures may hit the IMG Models Australia microsite within days.
And in what will no doubt be great news to Ward’s many fans, the former world number one, who exited the modelling business five years ago to pursue an acting career, is, we hear, plotting a modelling comeback in 2013. Scouted in her native Perth in late 2002 Ward, who is now 25, first began modelling 10 years ago this year.
UPDATED 08/01/13: It's official. As confirmed by IMG Models Australia to frockwriter on Tuesday morning, Ward has signed with the agency and her photos are expected to be up on its website within 24 hours.
"She hasn’t worked in this market for a long time, so to make the move now [from Viviens], obviously it’s because she wants to further her career, she wants to get back into the Australian market" said IMG Models Australia's general manager Danielle Ragenard. "She’s an Australian girl and this is an important market for her. And she’s looking at everything IMG can offer, from endorsements to modelling to contracts".
How about interest from overseas for a reboot of her international career?
"No comment" added Ragenard. "I can’t say at this stage".
UPDATE 09/01/13: According to Ragenard, Ward has made a permanent move to Sydney and her first job is expected to be in approximately one month's time.
Since the world’s biggest model agency came to town in July 2012, the pressure has been on in the local modelling scene, with a number of top names lured by IMG Models from other Australian agencies – Chic’s Miranda Kerr, Nicole Trunfio and Givenchy SS13 exclusive Kaila Hart and Priscillas’ Bambi Northwood-Blyth among them.
Kershaw meanwhile, who took her own thespian sabbatical in 2012 to shoot Mad Max 4: Fury Road, is currently no longer on Chic’s website and so far we can’t seem to get a straight answer about where she might have gone.
Kershaw – who is ranked the world number 4 on models.com’s Top 50 Women list – was previously front-and-centre on the Chic Management website. For some time, Kershaw’s photo was the first thing you saw in the animated flash gallery on the home page when you visited the site.
Currently, Kershaw is absent from Chic Management's home page animation – which now begins with Catherine McNeil, followed by other major Chic faces such as newcomers Nicole Pollard and Montana Cox - and her name is also completely absent from the site’s alphabetical lineup.
Senior reps of the agency were unreachable either on holidays or else out of the office when frockwriter called late Monday Sydney time. Several parties within the agency offered that models occasionally “drop off” the site when photos are being edited.
No, they don't, say other sources.
Kershaw nevertheless still appears on the website of Next Models, Chic Management’s New York affiliate.
Some, naturally, are speculating that Kershaw may have also been snapped up by IMG Models Australia. But there is nothing to report on the Kershaw front according to the agency.
On Tuesday, Chic Management still wasn't returning our calls. With IMG Models claiming to have no knowledge of Kershaw's plans, one theory has Kershaw's father Kim Kershaw - a Melbourne financial consultant who has previously given investment advice to his daughter - potentially also picking up her management reins moving forward.
What says Kershaw senior?
"I've got no comment whatsoever" said Kim Kershaw when we tracked him down on a Hawaiian golf course on Tuesday. "I'm in Hawaii, on my honeymoon, on holidays. I'm only interested in the next putt".
gemma ward by nick knight for pop magazine via models.com
abbey lee kershaw by richard bush for i-D magazine via models.com