Where Barbizon (Modeling and Acting Agency) Started
Barbizon was founded in 1939 and was originally known as a “charm school.” The first school was located on the fashion famous 5th Avenue in New York City. Quickly, Barbizon gained popularity and women migrated to this school to improve their poise skills and to learn how to model.
Now? Over a hundred schools exist throughout the United States. There are two programs, each with a different focus: modeling and acting. Many famous actors and actresses started off at Barbizon and alumni include well-know models and even hopefuls on Tyra Banks’ hit t.v. show, America’s Next Top Model.
Who is Helen Fraser?
Helen Fraser was the first director of Barbizon in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1950, Helen Fraser gave President Ronald Reagan an award for the “Best Dressed Man in America”. This took place in New York City and was a very memorable moment for Barbizon!
Here is an interesting clipping that still holds true today in this industry. The San Bernardino County Sun published on June 24, 1947:
“Actresses think so and they work hard at it. Trainers of models who devote whole class-periods to entrance-making think so, too. They realize the importance of first impressions. And they know that the way a woman enters a room will tell many things about her to those who are meeting her for the first time. Before you turn the doorknob, you should begin making your entrance, says Helen Fraser, director of the Barbizon School of Modeling. By that she means putting clothes in order; making ready with a smile or a pleasant expression. Important point she stresses is entering a room with “presence” but without fanfare.”
Helen also went on to edit a binder-style book titled “The Charming Women.”, a course booklet to help you get more out of life and a successful future, and to write “Assignment in Modeling: A Guide to a Career in Fashion and Photographic Modeling.”

Jamie Rothberg | Writer | Chicago

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