Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Barbizon Modeling School - Opinions and Concerns

To Whom It May Concern:

I was a student at Barbizon of Olympia (Seattle); they put the classes in Olympia, because it was easier for the girls in my class.

Well, I am surely glad that my mom found this site as well as many others about Barbizon and their scams that they are running.

Barbizon charged us a down payment of $495 at the beginning of the classes; the total payment for the classes and the audition near the end was $1,895.

That's just crazy.

After my audition with two ladies, Dana West and Renee Eppers, I was called the following Monday and told that I was picked to go to a convention in L.A.

The price to go is $4,495!

My mom found this site on Tuesday night before we had to meet them on Wednesday.

So the next morning she told me all about the scam; needless to say, we didn't go to Seattle to meet with them; instead, we stopped a payment that was being sent to them to pay for the classes.

Thanks to your site and others, and, of course my mom for looking. We saved ourselves from paying $5,000 to go to L.A. and be taken advantage of even more.

Thanks again,

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To Whom It May Concern:

I used to consider myself an educated type of consumer; however, since we have now been ripped off by Barbizon, IMTA, and most recently Options Talent, I guess I was wrong.

My teenage daughter wanted to do some modeling (she is on the tall side, very nicely built, and very pretty), so we contacted Barbizon.

She was invited to an open audition, and selected to take part in a series of classes. We were also told that the $1,700 we were spending would be all we had to pay Barbizon for life. They said she could return anytime in the future and take classes of all different types for no extra cost.

Having been familiar with Barbizon through a relative, we decided to sign her up with the idea that even if she never modeled, she would gain self-confidence, which she needed badly.

The classes were so badly taught that it took my intervention and phone calls to Toronto, Canada, to get the teacher changed and add extra classes to match the original schedule we had been given.

At the end, the models attended a "graduation" which cost a tremendous amount for us to watch, and we had to supply all the various outfits she "might" wear.

The graduation was a joke and a disaster; however, our daughter had learned poise, how to dress, how to properly use makeup, and gained a lot of confidence.

We were told there would be the opportunity to audition to be represented by Barbizon's own modeling agency, ICE, when they set up their local office.

Five months after graduation, they called asking us to allow her to audition for attendance at the International Talent and Modeling Association's (IMTA) upcoming convention in Los Angeles.

We had no reason to suspect that Barbizon seems to run IMTA, so we were thrilled and surprised when they selected her.

Along with her acceptance to attend IMTA, they were signing her up for representation by ICE.

We were told it would cost around $4,000 (airfare and the hotel were included in this plus special training from out-of-town persons in the business, and a photo shoot), but we could get sponsorships to defray the cost.

We traveled an hour every weekend for two months and then several times a week during the final weeks of preparation before the trip.

We had to supply all her clothing, including an evening gown, which had to be approved beforehand, and money for food. We also had to pay for comp cards.

We received very little sponsorship money, but I console myself by the fact that the trip was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure she never would have had otherwise, and she was able to see relatives in L.A. she had never met before.

Within two weeks of her return, we were shocked to find that the Barbizon school at the location she had been attending was closed down, all employees let go, and there was no way to contact them.

We paid $25 for a video made on the trip, which we never received, and were left with a massive amount of comp cards on which were printed "ICE" which we couldn't use.

Suffice to say, if I had known then what I know now, I would have made some very different decisions.

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To Whom It May Concern:

My husband and I just signed a contract with Barbizon for $1,895 ($495 deposit).

This is for our daughter to attend their school one weekend a month for six months. They say this is to get her ready for work in commercials, acting, and modeling.

Could you please let me know if you have any information on Barbizon Modeling? I hope we haven't been scammed. I wish I would have found this website sooner. Please let me know soon.

Thank you,

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I keep finding modeling agencies which try to distance themselves from modeling schools and prove they are reputable or legitimate by saying they are not modeling schools.

I read another one saying they do not run modeling schools yesterday. Here is that quote and several other examples:

Minx Models Modeling Agency: "VMH Models and Minx Models are not modeling schools and we do not require that you register in modeling classes or pay fees to be represented. We earn a commission on work that you perform through our agency."

Prestige Modeling and Talent: "We are not a modeling school and we do not offer any paid modeling classes at our agency."

Actors North West: "We do not charge a fee to talent for representation or for larger-market agency placement. We are NOT a modeling school, nor a photography studio."

VIP Management Model and Talent Agency: "We are not a modeling school, and do not try to sell training."

Dream International Models: "We are not a modeling school, but an International placement agency."

AD Modeling Inc.: "We are not a modeling school and we do not require you to register in any modeling classes or pay fees to have your portfolio posted on our site."

Ascension Models: "We are NOT a modeling school. Most modeling school graduates NEVER become paid working models."

Why do modeling firms say they are not modeling schools? Because modeling schools have bad reputations and the modeling school concept has a bad reputation.

Experts say you should not pay upfront fees. Modeling schools require upfront fees.

One person observed: "Barbizon is a modeling school and they profit when you sign up for their classes." So true. They haven't even done anything and they already have your money.

You really need to be clear about why you signed up your daughter for classes. Why did you sign her up?

Most people whose children went to a modeling school who wrote before you were basically pleased with the confidence it provided their daughters, etc., but most of them were basically not pleased with the fact they never got any work.

Therefore if your only reason for signing up is to get modeling work, get your money back and look elsewhere.

On the other hand, if your only reason for signing her up was so she could learn manners, develop confidence, and become more polished, it may be worth your money and her time to attend the Barbizon classes.

Joan Scholz, director of the Cleveland office of the Docherty Agency, which represents models and actors, said: "You do not need to go to a modeling school, but they have their advantages. It's a benefit for someone who needs self-confidence."

Cindy Crawford essentially says the same thing. She said modeling schools are misnamed because they are finishing schools.

There are modeling schools which are upfront and clear about what they are and others which are not, and instead they try to make it look as if they will be able to get the aspiring models work.

Some companies say their school is a "modeling school"; others say theirs is a "finishing school"; and others still call theirs a "modeling and finishing school."

The fact is you do not need to attend a modeling school to get modeling jobs. Cindy Crawford and other supermodels never attended a modeling school. How could they get signed with an agency without attending a modeling school? How could thousands of models get signed without attending or even graduating from a modeling school?

Simply because most aspiring models have enough self-confidence to model, the agencies do not require a certificate for representation, and the agencies teach their models the little they need to learn after they have been signed.

If your daughter wants to model, find a modeling agency, not a modeling school. Barbizon is very expensive. Indeed it could be the most expensive "modeling school." Representation by a reputable modeling agency, however, will not be expensive, it will be free; and so will the training.

For more comments about modeling schools from industry professionals see the link below.

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To Whom It May Concern:

I am a former graduate and employee of the Barbizon Modeling School in Schaumburg, IL. Having been both student and an employee, I can verify that the school is a total waste of money.

I paid $800 for my lessons back in 1996; I know that the school now charges more like $2,000 for the classes.

I am writing this letter after several years of denial. I have never been one to burn bridges, so I always tried to look on the positive side. However, there is just no denying any more that Barbizon is a total scam.

I was fortunate enough to have an excellent instructor who had great contacts. I did get A LOT of work after I graduated. I did print work for Haughton Mifflin and a ton of hair shows.

I always got paid at least $80/hour or $500/day. I was working 1-3 days/week. I knew that this wasn't going to make me rich —but it definitely paid for some college courses.

My point in disclosing my success isn't to brag, but hopefully to give me some credibility to anyone who might read this.

My main point is Barbizon didn't get me ONE job. My training with Barbizon didn't get me ONE job. Yes, Barbizon does teach makeup and runway. However, I have NEVER, EVER had to do my own makeup at a job.

And, furthermore, when you audition, people don't want you to wear makeup. Girls that have on too much makeup are asked to either wash it off or leave.

As far as runway goes, you would be better off watching models on the runway and copying their moves. Rent a movie like "Gia" that features a lot of runway, and then copy it in front of a full length mirror until you get it.

Also, what Barbizon doesn't tell you is that runway shows are generally CHOREOGRAPHED!! That means that you need to be able to copy what someone wants. You are better off not getting stuck in one particular style. You would be better prepared by practising a variety of styles, so that you get used to mimicking what a choreographer wants.

All of my success as a model (and I would say I am a success story from a small market point of view) came from practice. The best thing to do is go on as many auditions as possible. Part of learning to be a model is learning to audition. So the more you audition, the better you get.

Furthermore, when you get a job, watch everything and learn. I learned to do makeup from watching the artists that did mine at every job. I perfected runway from watching other girls.

I also worked for the Barbizon in Schaumburg. When you work for the company, however, you see a whole new side. It was this experience that finally convinced me that it is a total scam.

Until then my only experience had been with the classes I took. Back then the classes only cost $800 and I had a great instructor. True, Barbizon didn't get me any work. However, I always felt that my instructor had been great and she did a lot to boost my self-esteem.

My instructor was also a working model and actress. When she was offered contracts in Los Angeles, and turned in her resignation, the owners of the Schaumburg Baribizon actually tried to blackball her.

They called the agencies in Los Angeles and told them that she was an addict and a bunch of other lies just to keep her from moving. They also tried to tell her that the agencies which wanted to sign her were fraudulent (pot calling the kettle black!).

Just to support her side, she is a stable mother of two and she was offered a contract with Matthau Incorporated. That agency is run by Walter Matthau's son. Hardly a fraudulent agency!

When I was working as an instructor, they refused to pay for ANYTHING. I was required to put on a fashion show and a graduation with NO budget.

I was told to get money from the students. I couldn't believe that. My students were already paying $2,000 to attend the school, and now they were being told that they would have to pay for the fashion show and graduation as well.

I just couldn't bear to do that to the students. I had 75 students who were paying $2,000, and I only got paid $500 per class for six classes.

When I was teaching, Barbizon was taking in an astounding $150,000 in tuition (for just my class), and paying $3,000 to me.

Now, keep in mind that the Barbizon in Shaumburg has about 30 classes going at any given time. That makes for $4,500,000 every six months or $9,000,000 per year in tuition.

That also means that they are taking advantage of 4,500 students PER YEAR.

Now maybe you are thinking that it is worth the $2,000 to get lessons from an experienced instructor. Think again. I was an exception. Most modeling instructors at Barbizon are former students that couldn't make the grade. That's right, they are former students that weren't able to get any work as models so they teach.

They are told to lie so that the students and parents won't figure out that they are clueless. Also, the Barbizon in Schaumburg does not even have a complete curriculum to give the instructors. So many teachers just make up the class as they go.

I also worked on the recruiting end of Barbizon (once again the recruiters are people who couldn't get any real work). When I did the recruiting shows, the "talent scouts" would make up jobs that they had done in the industry. They would claim to have walked the runway in Milan, etc. This was all crap.

No model who has ever been successful enough to walk a runway in Milan is going to come back to be a "talent scout" for Barbizon at a Holiday Inn. Girls who are that successful in the modeling industry go back and work for reputable agencies, and they don't need to recruit. They hold open calls out of their office.

Furthermore, those girls get a bonus for each student that enrolls in their courses. They get $100 for each student they enroll. So basically, the more students that sign up, the more money they make. So everyone gets in to the school. The whole "audition" process is really a sales pitch to get you to pay for the classes. There is no audition —if you can pay, you get in.

I could go on and give more examples, but hopefully, this has already gotten through to the readers. These people do NOT care about the students. It is a total scam. All they want to do is make more money. I am sorry that I didn't see through it faster.

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Barbizon Modeling School Letters Index

Modeling Schools