Today I'm meeting Bill Wackermann, CEO of Wilhelmina Models International Inc. Bill has paved the way for celebrities and artists in the modeling industry by personally signing Nicki Minaj, Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth, Rae Srummurd, Miles and Sofia Richie and many more. With his keen sense of aesthetics he’s also spearheaded Wilhelmina + Studio, the company’s creative agency, Bill has made it his mission to make Wilhelmina an inclusive agency and the first to launch a Big and Tall Model Search with iconic athlete Shaquille O’Neal. Follow him @bill_wackermann.
Hello, It’s Ann. It’s great to see you Bill. Can I interview your closet? Of course!
What shows are you most looking forward to this SS20 season in New York? I’m really excited about this fashion week. I’m excited for Helmut Lang—they’re innovating in mens and womens wear. R13, will give an edgy, streetwear vibe. I’m friends of the House of Oscar del la Renta and Prabal. I’m also excited about Christian Cowan’s show this year. Karolina Kurkova just starred in his first ad campaign, so she’ll be in the show this year.
Where do you like to go for coffee/lunch/dinner during the hustle and bustle of Fashion Week? Being able to have coffee or take a break during Fashion Week is a luxury you don’t always get. I’m more a fan of late night dinners than being able to stop during the day. At night, I’ll have a slice of pizza or meet with friends to go over the highs and lows of the day. I love eating at Claudette, Sant Ambroeus, and Rosemary’s. My favorite place to go is actually a lesbian bar called the Cubbyhole—it has best jukebox and cheap beers on draft.
What will you personally be wearing during fashion week? Fashion Week for me is a working week, because we have so much talent in town. This year we’ve got Nicki Minaj, Charlie Puth and Luke Hemming, along with all our models walking. I’m in variations of black. If you don’t get home in time to change, you can just have the black jacket, black sweater or black pants to make that transition for you. I stick to that uniform. Ultimately, Wilhelmina always wants to highlight the talent and how amazing they look in their clothes.
Beautifully tailored coats seem to be a staple in your fall/winter wardrobe. Where have you found some of your favorites? I’m obsessed with coats. I love tailored coats and street wear coats. I’m a huge fan of Moncler and Moose Knuckles. I’m a tremendous fan of Hugo Boss. I’m loving what I’m seeing at Burberry under Riccardo Tisci’s direction. If they could make a Max Mara Teddy Bear coat for a man, I would be the first person in line. I want to be cozy and warm. I love camels, blacks and grays for coats.
What do you like to pack when you travel internationally for fashion week? And what do you do on the plane for entertainment? Because I’ve been traveling for fashion weeks for 20 years, I have it down to a science. My travel wardrobe includes ATM joggers in black and gray with simple cashmere sweaters. I always bring simple and monochromatic clothes. When you’re going from meeting to meeting or with talent, you want to make sure you’re appropriate and professional, but you’re behind the scenes. I’m a huge Netflix and documentary fan. I’ll go through five documentaries on everything from JFK Jr. to the fall of the Roman Empire.
Please tell me more about Nicki Minaj’s fairy tale moment walking down the red carpet at the Met Gala in Prabal Gurung! What did you do to celebrate this major moment? I threw myself into a cab, went home, opened up a beer and plopped myself on my bed. My point is, those are long days for us and especially the talent. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in their shoes and to have that much attention on you globally. I take seriously our advocacy for our clients and our representation of them. So you internalize a lot of that angst because you want it to be perfect for them. When it’s over and safely done, the last thing I want to do is go to an after party. The first thing I want to do is hit my pillow.
I noticed that you have a beautiful collection of Gucci shoes. What are some of your favorites? I applaud your choice of bold colors and motifs! First of all, thank you! I love Gucci shoes. I love the slides, I have several pairs in black and brown. They’re always chic and super easy to get on and off. You can still feel like you’re half on vacation because you’re not wearing a full shoe. I love the classic stuff they’re doing along with the skulls and the snakes. If you’re wearing a monochromatic outfit, a pop of color on your shoe can really pull it together.
Do you prefer television or movies? Which if any movies or shows has inspired your style? I’m a huge movie person. If I’m stressed out, I don’t turn to the bar or the bottle, I’ll sneak to the movie and see something. It’s a mental massage for me. You’re transported. It’s a gift to me and something I’ve passed on to my kids. Sometimes you don’t care what you’re seeing, it’s just the experience of getting a cold diet coke, sitting in the theater and feeling cozy. I think films inspire style. I’m a huge James Bond fan—I love Daniel Craig’s style. I just re-watched “A Place Beyond the Pines” with Ryan Gosling. His style is magnetic. I love the fashion in “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”
What songs keep showing up the most on your playlist? “Hot Girl Summer” by Megan Thee Stallion and Nicki Minaj, “I Warned Myself” by Charlie Puth, “Go Loco” by YG, “Teeth” by 5 Seconds of Summer.
What is something one of your friends has in their closet that you want to borrow and never return? My boyfriend has the most incredible style. He just treated himself to a vintage Rolex Pepsi. I love it. I’d love to steal that and possibly never return it.
Who would star as you in a movie about your life and most importantly, what would they wear? I’d love it to be Ryan Gosling, but I’m sure instead it would be Gilligan from “Gilligan’s Island” or “Adam Sandler.” I’d love to live in Tom Ford’s films. The styling of the films, whether it’s the “Single Man” with Colin Firth or “Nocturnal Animals” with Amy Adams. The styling in those films is so chic.
Fill in the blanks regarding your closet!
My favorite thing about fashion week is it’s exciting. It’s theater. You don’t know who you will see and what they will wear but the most annoying thing about fashion week is that the shows are never near each other. We’re running to Brooklyn and all over the place to shows.
I should throw away jeans and pants that don’t fit. But I could never part with my watches, because I’ve bought them to signify important moments in my life. They’re so much more significant to me than just the ability to tell time.
I spent too much money on candles, sheets, throw pillows, expensive soaps, and cashmere sweaters. but I save a lot of money on basic socks.
I would love to go on vacation to the Amangiri in Utah, Morocco, the Aman resort in Sri Lanka, or a safari in Botswana and I would bring my boyfriend, kids and great friends.
I love wearing this fragrance Tom Ford Portofino but I love smelling Le Labo on someone else.