When the late Helen Merrill took clients David Gropman, William Ivey Long and Paul Gallo right out of Yale Drama in the mid-70s, she created a new role for agents whose rosters had excluded designers. Today, it's hard to find a designer without an agent. Most designers like to delegate the dirty work. Agents negotiate for housing away from home, money for assistants, travel allowances, and assorted perks, as well as for the fees that determine their percentage. If a check doesn't arrive, ...

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