Sarah Doukas has helped launch the careers of a host of famous models
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You might not recognise Sarah Doukas if you pass her in the street… but rest assured, she’ll have her eyes on you.
For more than 30 years this talent spotter supreme has been picking out stars of the future wherever she goes.
And while lockdown doesn’t exactly help her mission, it certainly won’t stop her looking.
Even Sunday People readers are on Sarah’s radar. Basically, if the face fits, she wants to know.
Sarah – boss of the renowned Storm Model Agency – famously picked out an unknown Kate Moss in an airport lounge and stopped a rather startled Anya Taylor-Joy in the street.
Kate Moss with Sarah Doukas
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They were catapulted to fame on the catwalk and screen respectively.
Model and actress Cara Delevingne, 28, is another huge name who owes her break to Storm.
But Sarah likes to maintain a lower profile. And it helps when she is looking for the next superstar.
“I’ve found new people all over the place. I just keep my eyes open. I’m very observant,” Sarah says from Storm’s HQ off London’s super trendy King’s Road.
Anya Taylor-Joy was spotted in the street
(Image: Rex Features)
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It is, of course, eerily quiet due to the pandemic.
She adds: “It’s rather sad at the moment. We rely on Instagram and TikTok to find new people.
“It is a good way of concentrating results when there are not many people on the streets, and those who are wearing masks.”
On that note, Sarah even encourages contact from wannabes reading this article.
Cara Delevingne and Sarah Doukas
(Image: Richard Young/REX/Shutterstock)
"She says: “Usually it’s the girls who have absolutely no idea they’d be right for modelling are the ones generally who end up making better models.
“So if any parents or grandparents or uncles and aunts of potential models are reading the Sunday People, they shouldn’t be shy in coming forward.”
Sarah set up Storm in 1987, with the financial backing of tycoon Sir Richard Branson.
And the early days provide the perfect example of the alchemy she is famous for – picking the next face to rock the world out of a crowd.
Cara Delevingne during Rihanna's Savage X Fenty Show
Sarah, 59, talks of a trip to Croatia, to judge a modelling contest. No one on stage interested her, but she did spot potential in the audience.
She explains: “I just saw this great looking girl. She couldn’t speak a word of English. She had walked all the way from Sarajevo – 140 miles – to see a friend there and had no money.
Her teeth were literally falling out but her face was beautiful. Six weeks later we flew her to London and got her teeth fixed for £2,000. My husband’s friend taught her English.
“Oh my God, it was a labour of love and money. In the end she did brilliantly. She starred in The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio.
Model Kate Moss
(Image: Daily Mirror)
“Her name’s Lidija Zovkic. Now her English is better than mine!”
Lidija, 51, also enjoyed modelling success. But then Sarah is used to seeing her proteges grabbing the limelight and dominating magazine covers.
So she was, naturally, delighted to see Anya Taylor-Joy, 24, grabbing the glory recently in hit Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit – about a chess genius.
A teenaged Anya was walking her dog outside Harrods when Sarah dramatically pulled up in her car.
Lidija Zovkic enjoyed modelling success
(Image: Daily Mirror)
Sarah explains: “I think she was quite horrified when I put the car on the pavement in Knightsbridge and we basically hijacked her. But she was charming. I like to see people in their natural environment unaware they are being watched. It’s easier to see a face, how someone moves, see their expression.”
Of her most famous discovery, Kate Moss, Sarah says: “When I was a model in the ’70s, I was up against it because I was 5ft 3ins. So I quite like the smaller people.”
Which put Kate, then 14, in a fortunate position when Sarah first caught her gaze at JFK airport. She goes on: “Kate just had such an engaging personality.
She was a lively thing. So I thought fine, she’s a little bit smaller than most but she has got wonderful bone structure and she’s just so engaging.
Kate Moss in the 1990s USA Calvin Klein Magazine Advert
(Image: The Advertising Archives)
“And what I found engaging I’m pretty sure clients would too, which happened obviously.”
Kate’s campaigns famously include that for Calvin Klein perfume Obsession.
Like 46-year-old Kate, Sophie Dahl, 43, had a distinctive look and Sarah saw something that others just did not.
She continues: “Even though she was not our traditional model, I took her on. The rest of the team thought we were quite barmy. But I just thought she was a great person and I loved her.
Sophie Dahl had a distinctive look
“As an agent, you have to pre-empt all kinds of things. I was pretty sure that someone down the line would say something that would upset Sophie.
“When she did the Opium campaign her image was everywhere.
"She would go on castings and people would ring us up – it was clear not everyone got it that she was just a beautiful girl.”
Sarah, a mum herself, often finds herself a maternal figure to women cast into the turbulent world of fashion.
But she doesn’t lecture models about the perils of partying and drugs, saying: “If you clamp down hard there is no respect and they won’t listen.
"You have to say, ‘Look, everyone’s had a past, but there is moderation in all things’.
“Most people have done drugs. I mean maybe the Queen hasn’t but everybody else has. If I sat there and thought nobody does anything and that there are no drugs at any parties, then I wouldn’t be any damn good at my job. I’d be an idiot.
You just need to give good guidance – like you’re their parents.”