Manitoba model dies in Italy

A Manitoba-born model who died in Italy last week may have taken her own life, says an official with the agency that represented the 26-year-old woman.

A Manitoba-born model who died in Italy last week may have taken her own life, says an official with the agency that represented the 26-year-old woman.

Hayley Marie Kohle, originally from Beausejour, Man., northeast of Winnipeg, died Saturday in Milan.

Hayley Kohle, pictured here on the website for the Greek modelling agency Fashion Cult, died Saturday in Italy. ((Fashion Cult))
So far, her family has heard only that she fell from a seventh-floor window. The Italian police are investigating and Ottawa is providing consular assistance in the case.

Ugo Besozzi, head of Future Models, the Milan-based agency Kohle joined in January, told CBC News Kohle was not alone at the time of her death. The young model's roommates have suggested she took her own life, he said.

"The girls there told the story. Everyone said the same thing: At one point she said that she was going to smoke a cigarette. She opened the window and drastically took that decision. There was no warning and nobody could have done anything about it," he said.

Besozzi said he was shocked by Kohle's death. Her modelling career was thriving, he said, and she appeared happy in the apartment she shared with five other models in an upscale area of the city.

"She was a very pleasant person. Quiet, reserved, you know, and very pleasant," he said.

'A tough cookie'

Back in Manitoba, Quinn Adams said Thursday that Kohle was full of life, and she still can't believe her close friend is dead.

"Just absolutely fabulous. She could light up a room," Adams said.

"She was a model. She had everything going for her, she was ready to be a supermodel. And when somebody dies like that, it's going to be suspicious, I think."

Liz Crawford, one of Kohle's first modelling coaches in Winnipeg, described her as a "tough cookie."

"She's been through a lot, and Hayley has always remained very — what's the word — when you have no ego, you know … just the salt of the earth," she said.

"I think the industry sometimes was a little harder on her, you know. She worked a lot in markets that sometimes are well-known for being seedy — you know, Italy, and so on and so forth — but she was a tough cookie … which is why it's so shocking."

Modelling industry needs more regulation: coach

Crawford was behind the Worker Recruitment and Protection Act, which was passed in Manitoba last spring requiring licences for employment agencies, individuals recruiting foreign workers and anyone who recruits or represents models or entertainers.

The modelling industry in general needs to be better regulated, Crawford said. She hopes other levels of government will help protect models from finding themselves in situations they're not prepared to handle.

"My concern … for a lot of the girls that come in, is just, you know, how well educated are they before they go off and do this?" she said.

Kelli Miller, another Winnipeg-based model who lived and worked with Kohle in Athens five years ago, agrees that international modelling may look glamorous, but it can be a difficult life.

"You hear about things like this in the news all the time, and I mean, we do work so stuff like this doesn't happen, but to know somebody personally that it happened to, it's just really terrible," she said.

A memorial service for Kohle will be held on Monday in Beausejour.