Profile: Julian Vogel, co-director, Modus Publicity

Although stylishly clad in Calvin Klein and sporting a healthy tan, Julian Vogel does not conform to many people's flaky fashion­ ­industry stereotype.

‘Fashion has become big business. The industry is having to become more serious, and is attracting a lot more business-minded people,' he asserts.

Vogel has good reason to want to talk business - last week his agency Modus Publicity merged with beauty specialist Dowal Walker, creating a health and beauty division imaginatively badged ModusDowal Walker.

For the first few months at least, the agency will be jointly overseen by Vogel, Modus founder Diana Hall, and Dowal Walker founders Owen Walker and Fiona Dowal. The quartet will lead 47 staff, with a client list that includes Calvin Klein, Lacoste, NARS and Philosophy.

Vogel got his first taste of fashion PR while studying business and marketing at Middlesex University. His friend Anna Morel (now a partner at fashion firm Bryan Morel PR) was working at Mikel Rosen PR, and helped him ‘sort of bunk off accountancy lectures to work backstage at London Fashion Week'.

‘It was just incredibly exciting towards the end of the 1980s,' he says. ‘The supermodel thing was just starting with Naomi Campbell and Yasmin Le Bon - there was so much going on.'

Modus was founded by Hall and then partner Richard Tither, who left to go into full-time education. When Vogel joined, it was agreed that he would become a partner after a year.

The agency slowly grew, bagging ­accounts such as the Italian company GFT - distributor for Stone Island - and later Katherine Hamnett, Benetton and Hugo Boss. It was also involved in the high-profile relaunch of Selfridges, throwing a party that saw ‘a transvestite in the cooking department ­doing cookery demonstrations with oil and chains, and a feminist poet in the beauty department strapped to a lipstick'.

It is logical that fashion would interest Vogel, given that his twin brother is textile designer Paul Vogel, his father an ex-Levi's marketing director, and his mother an ad agency art buyer. In his spare time, he is fascinated by art and film, and is on the development board of the Design Museum.

Vogel is particularly proud of working with Birkenstock, a client for almost two decades. ‘At the beginning, they were seen as the ugliest shoes - the image was very German naturist, hippy, brown rice. But we had the first-ever picture of Kate Moss on the cover of The Face, wearing Birkenstocks, and then we started getting them in the Daily Mail.'

As for the fashion parties that fill the society pages, he says: ‘When I was in my 20s I was out every night, but work was being done at those places - I would come in to work the next morning with three features sold in and appointments lined up.'

Today - being married to an architect and living with two young children in Belsize Park - he says: ‘That's not ­really relevant now - I've just hit 40, I don't think the young editors at Elle want to see me when they go out.'

Vogel counts many fashion journalists and PR executives among his friends. But he does say, when asked about the oft-reported bitchiness in the sector: ‘Stereotypes come from somewhere, and I think all stereotypes have to be based on some element of truth.'

He goes on to explain: ‘There are always going to be people around who are a bit flighty or a bit flaky. But we seem to have a reputation for being much more down-to-earth than that. We're very strategic and methodical.'

Marks & Spencer head of product PR Tania Littlehales praises Vogel's ‘professionalism and calmness', while freelance journalist Lisa Grainger - who has known Vogel for more than a decade - says: ‘Julian is very precise, he knows what each writer will write about. People respect him as a dignified, warm and genuinely nice person.'

Indeed, Vogel says if he could debunk one fashion myth, it would be that ‘fashion PROs are all [Ab Fab ­character] Edina Monsoon'.

So it is no surprise that before ­striding off, Vogel studiously avoids an air-­kissing departure.

CV - Julian Vogel 

2006 Co-director, Modus Publicity

1991 Partner, Modus Publicity

1990 Account manager,Modus Publicity

1988 Account executive, Jean Bennett PR

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