NEW YORK — Frances Grill, who in 1980 founded Click Model Management, a New York agency that gained wide attention for the diversity of its models in a less-inclusive era, died Thursday at her home in Manhattan. She was 90.
From its inception, Click refused to be limited by any conventional standards of what a model should look like. Over the years it has represented white models (Elle Macpherson, model-actresses Isabella Rossellini and Uma Thurman), black models (Gail O’Neill and singer-actress Whitney Houston),transgender model Teri Toye, and male model Attila Von Somogyi.
Macpherson, who began working with Ms. Grill as a teenager, said in an interview Monday that Ms. Grill “wasn’t interested in cookie-cutter talent.”
“It wasn’t really about how people looked — she was interested in who they were and what they stood for,” she said. “In a world where being homogeneous was where — especially as a teenager — you wanted to be, she celebrated differences.”
Talisa Soto Bratt, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, became a Click model around the same time as Macpherson, after other agencies had turned her down. “In 1982, diversity did not exist in magazines or the fashion industry,” she said Monday. “It was completely driven by ‘blonde and blue eyes.’ Of course, Frances — her whole vision was: ‘Look at the world, look how diverse it is. We need to represent that.’”
“Frances and her Click was more than an agency to me,” Rossellini, her first model client, wrote in an e-mail Monday. “She was my mentor who taught me about work ethics” as well as how to “manage a career and enjoy every second of it.”