Established in Tokyo in 2004, Angel 17 serves as a modeling agency for foreign men, women, and children. The agency’s talents have been featured in fashion shows for brands such as Louis Vuitton and Fendi, and magazines including Vogue, Elle, and Nikita to name a few. Founder and Russian native Assol Khovrich has now expanded the business to include a modeling school in order to further develop the image and talents of her models.
How long have you been in Japan?
I always wanted to be a model, and I thought of Japan as the land of opportunities for aspiring models like myself, so I got on an airplane and flew from Moscow to Tokyo 11 years ago. That was in 1998. How time flies!
Can you tell us a bit about Angel 17?
Angel 17 is a modeling agency located in Nishi Azabu. We represent approximately 300 models from all over the world and of the 300, the majority of them are from the European Union and Russia. We also represent children of all ages and nationalities. The goal of the agency is to provide continuous support and training to help develop these models. With this goal in mind, we also manage a modeling school to help uncover the hidden talents of the students. We help these students develop these talents until they are ready to be showcased. At the modeling school, we teach our trainees how to present themselves. These lessons include runway training, as well as makeup application. We also teach them how to communicate with people, but most importantly we teach them how to find their inner selves and love themselves first. Their bodies and appearance are powerful weapons they can wield, be it on the runway or in a magazine. They have to exude confidence. We encourage our models to take on new challenges and dream big dreams. We create opportunities for our models and support them through each challenge.
What are the challenges that you face here in Japan?
Overcoming the language barrier is a big challenge in itself. Business negotiations can still be miscommunicated at times. It could also be the nature of the language, as Japanese is a language full of non-verbal communication and innuendos. Sometimes there are multiple meanings behind each word or phrase, so business negotiations must be approached cautiously. There is a phrase in Japanese: kuuki wo yomu, or ‘reading the atmosphere.’ So to be able to ‘feel’ what someone is trying to say is an important part of the language.
Who or what gives you inspiration?
Audrey Hepburn, the late actress, was and still is my inspiration. My Fair Lady was my very first English movie, and Audrey Hepburn’s acting talents left a lasting impression on me. I especially admire her generosity,
conviction, and enthusiasm. She was involved in charity work, and she really strived to make a difference in Africa and in the lives of children around the world. Audrey Hepburn will always be my greatest inspiration.
What advice would you give to aspiring professionals here?
It is really important to know what you want and to go for it. Perseverance and determination are the keys to success. Know what you want, then focus all your energy and resources on it, and do not quit until you see
results. It will take time for any idea to materialize, sometimes it may take years to see something you start come to fruition. But remember, building a solid foundation of mutual trust with those with whom you work ensures a long lasting relationship.
What do you do in your spare time?
I practice yoga and I enjoy taking trips to onsen (hot springs). Recently for relaxation and entertainment I have been watching some Russian dramas on DVD. I enjoy the simple things in life.