Interview with an influencer: Paula Karaiskos, talent manager

paula-karaiskos-copyStorm Models’ long-term Head of Press, has worked in the fashion industry for 25 years, from the original supermodel phenomenon through to today’s new wave of social-media industry giants. Paula’s remit for what makes a star remains consistent, and she is always on the look-out for a maverick, with an ambitious work ethic and uncompromising and stylish attitude.

What inspires you?

Music. The influence is unparalleled—it’s evocative, informative and I love all categories and types. And my kids… because they still have an unfiltered view of the world.

What influences you?

Articles in The Times Magazine (Saturdays) which is edited by Nicola Jeal—original thinking applied to interesting stories with great columnists, there is nothing mediocre about the high-quality opinion.

The uncompromising and consequently brilliant work of documentary-maker and campaigner Michael Moore, who has been unrelenting in his determination to reveal the uncomfortable truth about so many issues relevant in American culture and beyond.

UNHCR Ambassador Alek Wek, a former refugee herself from Sudan and a tireless campaigner and inspirational voice and face within the fashion industry. She is fearlessly generous sharing her own experiences to shed light on the plight of refugees all over the world. She has also re-educated the modelling industry with her work and ethos that every woman is beautiful.

The inimitable and surprising Lily Cole—now in her fourth incarnation as a forward-thinking technology entrepreneur. Her platform launched as a gift-economy social platform in 2013, but has since expanded to other areas promoting transparent supply chains and thoughtful manufacturing through the Impossible Shop; organising charity events and workshops; and sparking meaningful conversations via Impossible to Print.

Favourite city?

Currently… Rome. I was late to the party… but I was invited to Fendi’s recent 90th birthday celebrations and their iconic fashion show which was staged spectacularly at the Trevi Fountain was so memorable [pictured: credit Harper’s Bazaar], as was their intimate (!) dinner for 500 at the Terrazza del Pincio in Villa Borghese. I was moved by the history, culture and energy which ran throughout the city.  Though French women are regularly acknowledged as being so chic—what should really be acknowledged is just how beautifully the women dress in Rome. I felt a sense of fearless femininity running through the veins of the women in the Italian capital.

Things do you always do in… 


Shop at Smythson, it’s my absolute favourite leather brand—always confidently understated in design, and the quality and craftsmanship are superb. Plus the service is always very special…

I love to eat dozens of oysters with all the accompaniments at The Wolesley and drink martinis at the American Bar at The Beaumont. I love the vibe at all of Corbin & Kings venues; they create an ambience like no one else.

I like to walk around the City and see all the modern architecture, The Shard, The Cheesegrater, The Gherkin—hand in hand with a brown-eyed boy.

New York?

I would hole up in The Greenwich Hotel and people-watch. I met Bradley Cooper—with his mother!—in the elevator on the morning his Oscar nomination had been announced for American Sniper, and I wished him good luck. He was very sweet.

Favourite cocktails?

Whisky sour made with Chivas. Mojito made with dark Havana Club—I don’t like white rum.

Favourite restaurant?

For the food, it is Ziani’s, a local Chelsea restaurant run by a charismatic Italian family of men. I have regularly eaten the same thing there—sometimes four times in the same week—while entertaining clients, and the food is consistently delicious. Depending on how greedy I am feeling I always start with the deep-fried mozzarella with spicy chilli sauce or the beef carpaccio, and then I always have baked seabass with a family-sized bowl of zucchini fritti, and then I like to share a chocolate mousse. It is far too noisy, the tables are set far too close together, and it is not easy to conduct a private conversation, but the food is the star. And the staff welcome you like you are Monica Bellucci, which is never a bad thing.

Trend you’re loving?

Androgyny—I love the power and confidence it brings to women and I love the softness and confidence it brings to men.

A trend you wish would go away?

Beauty porn—I am extremely uncomfortable with the way some young teens have been influenced by certain influential reality stars—it’s an abuse of reality for a purely commercial interest, in my opinion.

Brands doing clever things?

Prada, unequivocally feminine in the most modern sense of the word, I respect the way the brand consistently redefines itself through its collections and ambassadors but it remains true to its soul and values. Prada is a brand that truly understands and celebrates modern femininity. Also Adidas, for the way it is distinguishing itself from its rivals and is embracing and empowering women.

Favourite travel destination?

Africa, to Tswalu in the Kalahari. This trip changed my life—and not just because the landscape there is truly magnificent or the wildlife there is so prolific but because two gorgeous and life-long female friendships were cemented. It’s impossible not to be changed by time at Tswalu Game Reserve in South Africa.

Desert-island essentials?

This is very easy to answer, for me it would Heliocare 360º Sunscreen which doesn’t make you spotty and it really works. Gallons of Evian water. And a boyfriend.

Tell us a secret…

At my ripe old age, I am finally starting to relax and admit to myself that I truly enjoy motherhood… with its extremely regular failures on my part and very occasional triumphs!


by hueandcry