How We Met: Harvey Goldsmith & Carole White
'Our ideas rarely come to pass, but after a few bottles, they do seem good at the time'
Sunday 27 February 2011
Harvey Goldsmith CBE, 64
An impresario, Goldsmith is best known for organising Live Aid in 1985 alongside Bob Geldof, as well as promoting rock concerts for artists including Madonna, Elton John, the Rolling Stones and Oasis. He lives in London
Naomi Campbell was booked to come to a black-tie dinner and fashion show at the Natural History Museum in 1996. Everyone knows what Naomi can be like with her time-keeping, and Carole, as her agent, had warned the organiser, a mutual friend, that Naomi might be late. She overshot by several hours. But Carole was cool as a cucumber, and I was very impressed with how she handled it.
Her role is looking after models, mine is looking after recording artists; we came to the conclusion that they're all nuts, and we bonded over having the same sort of issues with the talent.
We put on a huge charity event together in Barcelona 10 years ago; eight designers, 50 models, four musicians and Nelson Mandela, who Naomi Campbell was close with. We hadn't sold many tickets, and I wanted to cancel it. I got a bit angry with all these people mucking us around, but Carole was so composed, and she, Naomi, along with a call from Bono, convinced me to go ahead, and I think that's when we properly became mates; we couldn't stop laughing at the lunacy of it all.
We started meeting up for lunches every few months to chew over the fat; a big favourite is a quiet corner of [London restaurant] Le Caprice, where we constantly plot new events together. Our ideas rarely come to pass, but after a bottle of white for starters and a couple of bottles of red for mains, they always seem like a good idea at the time.
We're both fighters, and neither of us understands the word no, which is what has kept us both going. Though as we've got older, we've both got more relaxed, and less worried about the minutiae.
I think I'm a good listening post. She's alluded to what's going on with that [UN tribunal at which White testified about Naomi Campbell's alleged receipt of conflict diamonds], but it's still going on, so she can't talk too much about it. Next up we're working on a fashion and music event for 2012 to celebrate 50 years of fashion. It'll be big, which is why I've got Carole involved; always work with people you can trust.
Carole White, 60
The owner of Premier Model Management, White has been instrumental in the careers of some of the biggest names in modelling over the past 30 years, including Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell.
When I was just a silly little young thing, about 28, I was a booker for a lady who was a model agent and friends with Harvey, so I used to meet him, though I don't think he'd remember. He was very impressive, and a bit scary, so I never imagined we would end up as friends.
Several years later, when I had my own agency, Naomi was booked to do an event with Barclays Capital and I was introduced to Harvey by a mutual friend, Euan Harkness, then vice-chairman at Barclays Capital. I always warn people who book Naomi that she'll probably be late. The three of us – Harvey, Euan, who was doing his nut, and I – were standing out on the steps of Natural History Museum and I was thinking, "How am I going to get out of this one?"; Harvey just seemed very calm and collected.
We had lunch the next day to pick over the bones of how horrendous it was and it became clear that we both shared the same dark humour; we both have similar types of jobs, and we're both used to crises, so we became lunch buddies.
We're both huge foodies, with a love of savoury things, but we always want to try everything, so we have a series of starters – smoked haddock soufflé, oysters, seafood – rather than one main; and he always pays. Harvey moves in higher echelons than me, so when we meet, he's always talking about meetings he's had with ministers, so conversation inevitably turn to politics; I'm quite right-wing on things such as justice, I just say: "Off with their heads."
Harvey travels even more than I do, so he's often so jetlagged he falls asleep while I'm talking to him. His eyes will flutter closed and he'll start snoring. We constantly swap tips about airlines – we both love Etihad and its airport lounge with waiter service and spa – and he was very impressed when I told him how you can get to New York first-class for £1,000 if you go with Kuwait Airways.
Despite the occasional nodding off, he does have tremendous energy and this amazing inner strength. We've touched on what happened with his bankruptcy a few years after we met; "I can't do it" isn't in his vocabulary, so he picked himself up and started again, which I really respect.
Yes, I've seen him really lose his temper on a few occasions when people are not doing their job, but really he's a twinkly-eyed, warm human being.
'The Model Agency', a series about Premier, airs on Channel 4 on Wednesdays at 10pm
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