Casting Directors : Who are they, what do they do, news, etc. - Page 4 - the Fashion Spot
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Originally Posted by Creative View Post
Nope. That's just for HC. Chanel ready-to-wear is designed by a loooot of people.
RTW also. Everything they are showing in a catwalk is designed by him. Of course he is working with Laetitia Crahay and other people. In the TV program "habillé(e)s pour..." by Mlle Agnes, they are always showing his drawings that are hidden behind folding screens.

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The relationship between artist and muse is the stuff of legends—and also legendarily hard to get right. But Anita Bitton has the knack for connecting fashion’s elite with models who can be more than just mannequins. Founder and Creative Director of New York-based casting and production agency The Establishment, Mrs. Bitton is known for her rare and remarkable ability to find girls who not only embody the vision of her clients, but also inspire them to new creative heights. That’s why, 25 years in, Anita is at the industry’s apex.

She’s cast print projects for a host of industry greats, including Irving Penn, Steven Klein, David Sims, and Peter Lindbergh, and is responsible for each and every LOVE Magazine issue (and that famously insouciant LOVE Advent calendar). Anita and her team also handle casting duties for some of the most anticipated runway shows and campaigns, including Alexander Wang, Balenciaga, and Marc Jacobs. Season after season, on the page and on the runway, she makes a compelling case for the modern muse.

At The Establishment, we organize our clients’ needs and assist in realizing their vision. Casting is an extremely important element of the show, and the decisions are always filtered through the chain of command. I pay a lot of attention to what the designer, stylist and client have to say. Any external commentary, such as on social media, has little bearing on the outcome, being that they only get to see the finished product, and the finished product has already received the seal of approval from the powers that be.

What do I love about my work? I love that I have a focus and a place to go every day. I was a waitress at TGI Fridays, so this is a walk in the park.

We’re constantly working on the shows through the off-season, so the two weeks leading up to the actual show is the most exciting. We get to see the clothes and the girls, and watch it all come together. It gets hectic, but our time is carefully managed. To relax we drink Juice Press Volcanoes.

The search for new faces fuels the casting process. It’s all about matching needs with wants and personalities. Once you’ve made a match, its important to be able to nurture that relationship. The model becomes an essential part of the team—the relationship between designer/stylist and muse is extremely unique. We are always looking at new faces, but it is rare that you have a match; it’s a long and arduous process. When all of the elements come together, that’s when careers are made.

What makes a girls stand out — Eileen Ford always talked about the X factor. It’s a subjective process of selection, and I also believe you get what you need, when you need it. Timing is everything, and a quiet confidence stands out. But also an overwhelming sense of self cannot be ignored in any individual. I say ‘Be you”, there’s no rules in the selection process. Be the best version of yourself. Be the one that you’re comfortable with. I don’t get turned off very easily.

My Favorite Models are Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Lorraine Pascale, Jeny Howarth, Stella Tennant, Gisele Bundchen, Daria Werbowy, and Anna Ewers. They’re all brilliant women, who have or are creating amazing brands, and are making a difference.

With regard to models having shorter careers now than they used to – I don’t think this is true. There are a lot of girls that have nurtured and built amazing businesses over the years. Look at Gisele, or Cindy, or Daria. I don’t believe that any of these girls were overnight successes. There’s a lot of trial and error. It requires focus and determination. It’s like in any industry: if you can see it through, chances are you’ll create a lucrative business.

As with all industries, the modeling world has changed in many ways over the years – some good, some bad. I try to keep looking forward. Nostalgia can be damaging to the current process, but the experience is fundamental. One important shift? The fashion industry is now a major source of entertainment, when it used to be an insiders’ club.

Another change has been the CFDA, along the Model Alliance, putting together safeguards for any and all young artists/performers in New York. I think this is a positive move for our business. It highlights and illustrates that it IS a business, and one that wants to protect its artists, as well as a community that wants to protect its children. “Accountability is the opportunity to live our choice”. The law does not mean that clients are unable to work with minors, it simply ensures that there are safeguards should this occur. In my experience, it is rare that we work with talent under the age of 16 for runway shows in New York, but there are always exceptions.

While it is a slow emerging conversation, I think we are all in the position to contribute to inclusivity on the runway, and across the many platforms that we are servicing, whether advertising or e-commerce, or others. I think it’s important to look at the current social and economic situation, alongside the ever – evolving world market. The face of the world is changing, as are the demands of designers and advertisers. This is definitely an issue that is impossible to ignore.

The most memorable projects I’ve worked on? Alexander Wang’s first collection for his own brand (Fall 2007), his first for Balenciaga (Fall 2013), and the Spring 2009 Alexander Wang show. For Marc Jacobs, the last collection for Louis Vuitton (Spring 2014), and the Marc by Marc Spring 2014 campaign with the Instagram casting. As for editorial, Irving Penn’s “Obese Nudes” for American Vogue stands out.

To be good at anything, you need an amazing team. Great hair helps.

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A few additions to the list - corrections and new information are underlined.

3.1 Phillip Lim Drew Dasent & Daniel Peddle/Nancy Rohde
ADEAM Adam Hindle/Tom van Dorpe
Aquilano.Rimondi Piergiorgio Del Moro/Elodie David-Touboul
Costello Tagliapietra Maurilio Carnino/Ketevan Gvaramadze
J. Crew Edward Kim/Gayle Spannaus
Jenny Packham Edward Kim/Lucy Ewing
Jeremy Scott Jennifer Starr/Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele

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Ashley Brokaw: Fashion’s Most Unlikely Power Player

By Alice Gregory

The odd, unconventional beauty of today’s most successful models is largely the result of the vision of one woman. Meet the industry’s in-demand casting director.

ASHLEY BROKAW is as familiar with skull shapes as a comparative zoologist, and knows the female gait as a jockey does the gallop of his racehorse. She can glance at a teenage girl and correctly guess her height, hip measurement and shoe size. She can divine what shadows a cheekbone will cast upon a jaw; how a hue of ash blond might contrast with patent leather; whether a girl’s look is sufficiently Edwardian.

If you flip through a magazine, stare up at a billboard or scroll through the thumbnail images of last season’s fashion shows, chances are high that you will be looking at the faces and figures of models Brokaw has discovered and groomed. Her clients include Miuccia Prada, Nicolas Ghesquière and Jonathan Anderson. She has cast shows for Miu Miu, Balenciaga and Tommy Hilfiger; chosen models for print ads for Calvin Klein, Harry Winston, Chloé and Armani, along with campaigns for more mass brands like H&M, Gap and Zara. She collaborates on shoots with Steven Meisel and Patrick Demarchelier.

As the fashion industry’s leading casting director, Brokaw, 41, is arguably the person most singularly responsible for what — or, more accurately, who — we think is beautiful. “She has a foresight. She has a stamp of approval,” says Anderson, creative director of Loewe and J. W. Anderson. “She finds faces, and she takes risks on faces. All the faces that we see today are passed through Ashley.” Proenza Schouler’s Lazaro Hernandez agrees. “If you want to be a working model,” he says, “get on Ashley’s radar.” Her decisions affect not only the models’ careers but also our own sense of self: Each season she tweaks what we long to be by changing who she puts in front of us.

Today, that person is less conventional and arguably odder-looking than ever before. Brokaw favors the kind of model more memorable than she is pretty. What fashion editors have long euphemistically called jolie-laide, she calls “strong.” The faces she chooses are sometimes merely a bit off-kilter but often undeniably weird and in some cases visibly asymmetrical. In print, they can seem outright radical, especially when compared to the burnished Brazilian goddesses and feline Russians of the recent past. Such idiosyncratic stars include Jamie Bochert, with her moody, ghoulish aspect; the Shelley Duvallesque Sabrina Ioffreda; the pinched and elfin Hanne Gaby Odiele; Lily McMenamy and her Novocained jaw. “You wouldn’t know most of the girls that are on the runway today were models,” Brokaw says. “They could all be sitting here and you probably wouldn’t recognize them, wouldn’t necessarily guess they were models at all.”

And yet even the new, seemingly more inclusive beauty standards might themselves be an expression of a certain strain of exclusivity. The fetishism of unusual facial features could be read as a trickle-down effect of our contemporary notion of one-of-a-kind luxury, a resistance to the ubiquity of mass merchandising. From a designer’s point of view, personifying a collection with a not obviously gorgeous model can imbue the clothes with an artisanal, avant-garde edge. As Brokaw herself concedes, “There’s a fine line between fashion and beauty being democratic and an anything-goes mentality. Fashion should be rarefied.”

Brokaw embodies the more sober aspects of the job. When we met last winter, she wore no jewelry, makeup or nail polish. Her face was slightly ski-chapped, and she spoke half-burrowed in the folds of a worn cowl-neck sweater. She looks like someone more likely to garden vegetables than prance around Paris. (Indeed, according to Instagram, she has recently planted, among other things, jewel beets, butter lettuce and lacinato kale.) She lives with her husband and two sons in an 18th-century farmhouse in rural Connecticut, and only comes into Manhattan when work demands it. It’s ironic but unsurprising that one of the fashion industry’s most influential figures seems to exist entirely glamour-adjacent.

Casting is a mostly ignored art outside the world of fashion. Each designer has their own preference about when to bring Brokaw into the creative process; some have her over the minute they finish sketching the collection; others like to provide her with a reference: “the 1980s girl with Madonna in the nightclub” or “vacation in Marrakesh.” The model who opens the show and the model who closes the show are traditionally considered the stars, but Brokaw’s job is more than just filling the minutes in between. A short skirt calls for a girl with exceptionally long legs; flats are of course preferable on taller models. Gray tends to look better on a blonde or redhead than it does on a brunette. Sometimes a designer wants a section of looks — outerwear with brown fur collars, say — to be worn by a group of similar-looking models, maybe a procession of pale, raven-haired girls. Clothes that a designer knows will be heavily photographed are typically matched with the most famous models or those with the most eye-catching walks. Brokaw completes the New York-London-Milan-Paris fashion-week cycle, often making adjustments to a show’s lineup with only a couple of hours up to call-time. (“In those moment when you’re most exhausted, she’s still on, ” says Anderson. “And she’s so calm!”)

Brokaw sees 300 to 400 models per season. She is, she says, interested in the girls who “grow on you.” She refers to them as “slow burns,” the models who work for a long time before they’re suddenly accepted by the public as beautiful. “Maybe she started in a Givenchy campaign and everyone thought, ‘Oh gosh, who is that? It’s too strong; it’s too much; I don’t get it,’ ” Brokaw says, pantomiming horror. “And then you get desensitized to it, and then all of a sudden she is in an H&M campaign, or a Zara campaign, and it’s a bit more palatable.” Brokaw is also known, and respected, for her ability to “bring a girl back” or to recontextualize her years after she first debuted, whether convincing Gemma Ward, who stopped modeling seven years ago and had a baby, to open Prada’s spring 2015 show, or suggesting Adriana Lima, one of the “Angels” of the mass label Victoria’s Secret, as the face of the high fashion brand Miu Miu in 2013. “She’s a fearless hunter,” says Ghesquière, the creative director of the house of Louis Vuitton, who has worked with Brokaw for over 10 years.

BROKAW GREW UP in England, attended boarding school in Connecticut and interned after 11th grade with Woody Allen’s casting director Juliet Taylor. Before her formal training in the fashion industry — doing casting for Bruce Weber’s Abercrombie & Fitch shoots — she studied international law at Georgetown. Much of her job, serving as buffer between artist and (often moody) adolescent model, looks quite a bit like statecraft. “I always say to the girls, ‘If you have a problem, come to me. Don’t go to the designer, don’t go to the stylist, don’t complain to anybody, come complain to me.’ ” Her job requires mastery of seemingly oppositional skill sets: the ability to perceive the human form with an almost cruel objectivity and the simultaneous capacity for maternal tenderness. For all her artistic vision, Brokaw often plays the role of high school guidance counselor. She has sent girls home from castings and shows for being too thin or obviously on drugs. Other forms of coaching are achieved discreetly in conversations with agents. “Sometimes I will say, ‘Get her teeth fixed.’ Sometimes I will say, ‘She needs to get her skin cleared up; she needs to drink more water.’ ” Brokaw recommends dance and yoga to the less coordinated girls, and lots of practice walking in heels to the fawnlike girls whose “legs just aren’t strong enough to hold the weight of their body.”

Since January, Brokaw has been to Milan three times and to Paris and London four times. Also: Amsterdam, Germany, Tokyo, California, Slovakia, Copenhagen and Brussels. On the off-season, she likes to meet with regional scouts who introduce her to girls she wouldn’t otherwise have the time to discover. Rather than searching for porcelain-skinned, Nordic blondes or bronzed volleyball players from São Paulo, she is enticed by countries like Denmark, places that “have really good genetic mixes and that aren’t so . . .  stereotypical?” Speaking like a viticulturalist or someone tasked with sourcing rare coffee beans, she continues, “I’m always interested in those kind of hybrid girls that are ethnically ambiguous. I like mixtures. I like combinations. You know, that a girl has some Asian and some European and some American Indian.” For Brokaw, diversity isn’t a political goal so much as it is a matter of natural preferences that happen to be progressive. The most ideal model-producing places, she surmises, have lots of interracial marriage, a high G.D.P. (predictive of good teeth) and protein-rich diets (good for turning out tall but trim citizens). Australia, she says, would be a great source, if it weren’t for all the sun exposure: Beachgoing has ruined many a modeling career.

Looking for new models on the street, she explains, is not ideal. Inclement weather is an obstacle (outerwear engorges even the trimmest of physiques), as are certain modes of transportation. “It’s difficult to do in Amsterdam, because they’re all on bicycles,” she says. “I’ve stopped girls on bicycles that are beautiful, and they get off the bicycle and” — here Brokaw sticks out her fingers two feet above the floor — “they’re this big.” Brokaw likes to meet parents — to assess their level of support but also, if the girl is not yet post-pubescent, to get a sense of how tall she might end up.

LIKE ANY MAJOR shift in taste, the new tolerance to stranger models can be attributed in part to practical, even economic, factors. Over the 20 years she’s been doing it, Brokaw’s job has become both harder and far more interesting. In the past decade, the number of fall shows at New York Fashion Week has doubled, and with the rise of e-commerce and photo-documentation (Instagram, street-style blogs, backstage slide shows), the demand for modeled content is greater than ever before.

“It used to be that maybe five years ago, if a girl would come in and she didn’t fit roughly a height parameter and a hip parameter, and an overall mood or feeling, I could say, ‘O.K., so she’s somebody I won’t use,’ ” she says. “But now it’s kind of ‘The sky’s the limit!’ I mean, I have to really look at every single girl.” Season by season, Brokaw’s achievement is a paradoxical one: It’s her traditional understanding of fashion and faces that allows her to advance a more broad-minded understanding of beauty.

Meanwhile, the very idea of what a model is has expanded as well. “It used to be that you could kind of get away with just going down a runway. If you could fake it for the 45 seconds you needed to walk, that was good enough,” Brokaw says. “But there are so many other jobs now. Think about it: Almost every campaign has a video component, and video is very, very different than still photographs.” Increasingly, Brokaw is being asked about models’ personalities. Social media surely plays a role here. Thumbing out clever captions about your acne, having fun in public and knowing to display your most irreverently inexpensive possessions are contemporary skills whose value cannot be exaggerated. “I like somebody who could be your best friend’s sister. You know, the girl who’s not on the cheerleading squad.”

While she isn’t at all nostalgic for high-school-style prettiness — the past era of remote, traffic-stopping beauties — Brokaw does wonder whether the progress made in pushing the boundaries of what is attractive may be ephemeral: whether the industry, so famous for its antic, pendulum-like movements, isn’t poised for a return to “a very normal beauty aesthetic . . . the girl who walks in and who everyone agrees is beautiful, not the one where you have to convince everyone she’s beautiful.” But isn’t that always the threat, the pretty girl who returns and forces everybody to forget the interesting one?

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An article about Kevin Amato, the casting director for HBA.

To spend a (fashion) week in the stands of the men’s wear runway shows is to marvel at an overwhelmingly singular vision of male beauty: wraith thin, yards high and lily white, like an underfed lacrosse team.

Exceptions to this rule crop up here and there, but none as forcefully or as jubilantly as that of Hood by Air, the New York-based label that has recently crossed the threshold from underground fascination to LVMH-sponsored sensation.

Hood by Air’s catwalks are filled with people diverse in height, weight, skin tone and gender identity. Many of them are nonprofessional, or more accurately, not-yet-professional models.

The label is nominally men’s wear — this week, the Hood By Air creative director Shayne Oliver clinched the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Swarovski Award for emerging men’s wear designer of the year — but its models aren’t bound by any such rigid definitions. They offer the suggestion, a surprisingly potent one, that beauty can be more broadly defined than the reigning norm.

The man responsible for discovering these new faces is Kevin Amato, 34, a photographer-cum-casting guru with a Caesar haircut, a pencil goatee and a silver stud piercing in the hollow of his neck, where clavicle meets sternum. He has supervised Hood by Air’s runway shows since the label’s first, in 2013.

This free-to-be-you-and-me theory of casting is catching, fragmenting the formerly fixed idea of what a male model looks like. As it does, Mr. Amato is finding himself in demand as a conduit between the runway and the real world: both divining rod and den mother to a streetwise and increasingly marketable crew.

Tawan Kariem, a transgender model from Newark, has been photographed for magazines and has walked the Hood by Air runway.
Mr. Amato’s forte is “street casting,” industry parlance for finding and choosing models outside the established agency system. (These days, they are as likely to be found on social media as on the streets.)

Street casting (as well as its more glamorous cousin, stunt casting) is not new in fashion, and has long been practiced by labels at the periphery of the mainstream. (Back in 1987, Comme des Garçons sent Jean-Michel Basquiat ambling down a runway.) Nor is it unusual for established modeling agents to scout new talent in public.

But Mr. Amato swells his ranks with a particularly broad swath of the young and the otherwise unrepresented. He looks to all races, and any combination thereof; though he himself has Spanish, Italian and Irish ancestry, he said he considers ethnicity irrelevant.

Gender, too, is negligible. “If he has a vagina, he’s definitely walking,” he said approvingly of one androgynous applicant at a casting session he held for Joyrich, a Japanese-born, Los Angeles-based label, in the lead-up to New York Fashion Week. “You never know.” The only questions put to any model were age, height, shoe size and Instagram handle.

The men and women selected and offered by professional modeling agencies tend to be, by and large, of paler stuff. To get the look Mr. Oliver prefers, Mr. Amato said, “I had to create it.”

In Hood by Air’s earlier, less certain days, street casting was undertaken out of necessity. Agents wouldn’t send their top models to a fledgling label. Some would send second-stringers, but then pull their models if they found out the cast would be mixed with street-cast guys.

“It had to be taken to the streets,” said Mr. Oliver in a note sent from Milan, where he was busy attending to the collection’s production in its new, higher-end factories. (The next Hood by Air show will take place during Paris Fashion Week later this month.)

The agencies no longer hold back their rosters. Now, they sign Mr. Amato’s discoveries, too.

Mr. Amato is not only a casting director. He is, perhaps primarily, a photographer, though he has also made excursions into clothing design and the nebulous all-purpose world of “creative direction.” All of his pursuits, however, draw upon a long-honed sixth sense for milieu. Growing up in Massapequa, N.Y., he worked — first as an unrefusable volunteer, later as an employee — at Caffeine, a rave-inspired store, fashion and record label, offering advice on everything from design to photography.

“I was treating him, when he was between 13 and 17 years old, like a guy who’s been in the industry for years,” said Alex That, Caffeine’s founder. “Every time we did photo shoots, he’d say ‘I want to bring these guys. …’ He would always bring in these colorful, interesting kids. And I wouldn’t question it.”

Mr. Amato is constantly on the lookout for his next find. (It is harder in the winter, when people are bundled up.) “If I see somebody, I’ll approach them,” he said. “Now I think it’s easier because people recognize me a lot, too. You give them your Instagram and they see it, and they’re like, ‘Oh, you know so-and-so.’ It’s building a family.”

The family tree branches ever outward. Friends bring friends; the casted become the casters.

At Mr. Amato’s casting session for Joyrich, which was held in Gowanus, Brooklyn, Daniel Singh, 15, a student at the High School of Art and Design, arrived with a friend; Mr. Amato had scouted them on Essex Street. “We knew him from Instagram,” Mr. Singh said.

Jabari Khalid, whom Mr. Amato calls “Jacuzzi,” stayed for hours. He brought along a girlfriend, Kia T’rey, who wound up trying on several looks herself as the Joyrich founder, Tom Hirota, looked on, delighted. (Mr. Khalid and Ms. T’rey eventually found places in the Joyrich presentation; Mr. Singh ended up in a Hood by Air show.)

Some of Mr. Amato’s discoveries become satellite scouts. Walter Pearce, one of Mr. Amato’s sometime assistants, has a beady stare and a chic look that earned him spots on the runway for Gosha Rubchinskiy in Paris and VFiles in New York. Now he scouts for Mr. Amato, whom he considers a mentor, after a fashion.

“I’m 19, but I’ve been slaying for a while,” he said at the casting. But Mr. Amato, he said, “taught me more than anyone else — tradewise.” (Gay-club argot like “slay” and “trade” is the lingua franca of Mr. Amato’s set, though Mr. Pearce is straight.)

Justin Etienne, an 18-year-old student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, turned up with a friend; Hood by Air booked him for his first-ever show. “I thought I’d be nervous, but I’m not at all,” he said the following week, backstage at the show, held in a frigid basement space on Wall Street, as a pack of frantic dressers, makeup artists, hairstylists and grill-fitters circled him. “I feel like I’m in the right place.”

The shows come and go, but Mr. Amato’s phone never stops buzzing. “I’m corresponding 24 hours a day,” he said. There is always a new friend to meet, a friend-to-be or friend of friends.

This daisy chain of connections ensures a measure of authenticity, which is what begins to erode as corporate entities appropriate the street-cast look and modeling agencies race to sign those who have it. “It’s become way too popular,” said Samuel Zakuto, a booker at Re:Quest Models, where Mr. Amato has often introduced his fledgling models. “Before, it was only here. You would call here for those type of kids.” The agency has signed a handful of Mr. Amato’s discoveries.

Mr. Amato is likely still ahead of the general trend. There is every reason to believe that when the men’s wear season begins later this month, the runways will be much as they always have been.

But the needle is moving, and in the advance guard, casting directors, designers and magazine editors appear to be paying a sometimes larcenous attention. “You don’t want to think people are watching everything,” Mr. Amato said. But social media has made tracking the enthusiasms of others relatively easy. Sometimes, Mr. Amato said, he will get a text from a friend: “Do you know this person? They asked me to model for them. They hit me up right after you liked my picture.”

So Mr. Amato is joining the ranks of the agencies himself, founding Mothermgmt (pronounced "Mother Management") to promote the talent he finds. (In industry slang, a “mother agent” is the agent who discovers a model, though camp slang obtains here, too.)

Tawan Kariem, 22, is a transgender model from Newark whom Mr. Amato contacted on Facebook and put into a Hood by Air show. “I think he probably just saw me on Tumblr or something,” she said. “That’s where I post a ton of pictures of myself.” When Mr. Amato started Mother, she signed up.

“I know he won’t just put me in a box of being a trans model,” Ms. Kariem said. “He knows I can give butch, he knows I can give ultrafeminine.” She has since been shooting for print magazines and, a fashion website.

Major brands like DKNY have lately been experimenting with putting street-cast talent in their shows and ad campaigns. Mr. Amato has noticed, he said, that models he has introduced are turning up in other shows and presentations, such as Kanye West’s for Adidas Originals during New York Fashion Week.

“I think it’s become a look, a thing that people want,” Mr. Amato said. “Most of the calls I get are like, ‘We tried. We want to do it right.’*”

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The Look of Now: Gucci’s Casting Directors Weigh In on Fashion’s Pure Mood

From the days of Tom Ford’s power femmes to Alessandro Michele’s eclectic waifs, Gucci’s lineup of models has always reflected the sensibilities of the brand as a whole. Thank casting directors Barbara Nicoli and Leila Ananna—who’ve worked with Frida Giannini, and now Michele—for that. As fashion industry veterans, Nicoli and Ananna select the faces that grace Gucci’s runway, in addition to casting some of fashion’s biggest shows—Burberry, Jil Sander, Tod’s, and Armani Privé, among them. Always searching for that next great face, the duo opens up on working with Alessandro Michele and how the business has changed in the past two decades.

What is it like working with Alessandro on these latest Gucci collections?

BARBARA NICOLI: [During Resort] we worked with Alessandro Michele up until the very last minute before the show started. When we worked for him for the first time [Fall 2015], he explained to us exactly what his collection was all about and what he had in mind. Alessandro never mentioned to us a specific body type or famous model he wanted in his show. Instead, he explained the inspiration for the collection and his world. He got us both to understand his vision immediately. During casting, Alessandro knows exactly how to make the model into a true character, to mesh with the collection.

How have Gucci’s casts evolved over time?

LEILA ANANNA: There is no before or after. Alessandro Michele is different from Frida Giannini, who was different from Tom Ford. It doesn’t make sense to compare three human beings with such different, strong personalities.

What was it like doing Gucci in New York this time around as opposed to Milan?

BN: The show was very intense. We had much less time than usual, so we worked around the clock.

Is there any difference in the selection process you undertake when working for print editorial as opposed to a runway show?

LA: We cannot say we prefer one or the other; it’s just a different way of working. You could say we like working more when there is not a computer or e-mails in between—to not have that barrier is refreshing. We are the casting directors of Flair magazine, and sometimes the teams are really large. We try our best to establish a relationship with everyone, but it can be logistically difficult at times.

What has been the most striking change you’ve noticed in the modeling industry?

LA: Society and cultures have impacts on the fashion and modeling industries. There have been changes in modeling trends over the years, of course. In the early ’90s, it was the age of the superwoman. Then we went through extremely young and androgynous models in the mid- to late ’90s. The new century brought a feel for healthy and extremely beautiful women. Currently, we are back in an age of young, fresh girls and boys. Our personal opinion is that people, in and outside of the fashion industry, are searching again for something pure and simple.

BN: I have to say years ago it was very different. There weren’t as many models as there are now. The same model could be in the shows one after the other because the calendar was not so tight. Also, there weren’t as many conflicts between the brands to get the best girls the exclusive. There have been few [changes] over the 22 years we have been in the industry. Changes always tend to follow economic trends. Fashion reflects what’s going on in the world, politically, economically, just like art. Fashion is pretty amazing in this sense. Unfortunately, we are passing through a huge economic crisis here in Europe, which isn’t over yet.

With so many shows and clients, how do you keep things fresh each season?

BN: We never stop researching new faces or asking modeling agencies to send us more pictures and videos of new talent. We like the idea of discovering a new face, a new personality, or a new character to then go back to our clients and ask for their thoughts. It’s one of the most exciting parts of this job. Once you have helped start a model’s career and the other people start to notice him or her, it makes us feel proud of the work we are doing. For us, this means that you truly understand what people in the fashion industry are looking for.

we are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams. wandering by lone sea breakers and sitting by desolate streams. world losers and world forsakers, on whom the pale moon gleams. yet we are the movers and shakers of the world for ever it seems
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I will say that this recent Gucci Resort casting was flawless.

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we are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams. wandering by lone sea breakers and sitting by desolate streams. world losers and world forsakers, on whom the pale moon gleams. yet we are the movers and shakers of the world for ever it seems
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Interview with CD Jennifer Starr on social media and models:

Almost more than half of the jobs I get asked to cast, they’re asking what a model’s Instagram following is, and I’m casting based on—but not solely—their Instagram following. It’s sort of crazy that in 2015 an Instagram following has become a standard of beauty. So the game has changed. Instagram is definitely a game-changer, and I think that you have to get on board with it. I want there to be a backlash, but I don’t think it will happen because I think it’s a tremendous opportunity to cross-brand.

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“Is She the Right Character for the Dress?” Margiela’s Casting Director on Couture’s Boys and Girls

By Janelle Okwudo

Cassting director Shaun Beyen’s eclectic model selections for Maison Margiela are consistently among fashion week’s best. Working with designer John Galliano to bring to life the mood of each collection, Beyen goes for the unexpected, from Fall’s memorable creeping models to couture’s alluringly androgynous boys. Hailing from Belgium, Beyen grew up admiring the Antwerp Six and now casts for the collective’s best-known label. He’s also the man responsible for the on-point casting at shows like Oscar de la Renta, Gareth Pugh, and Chalayan. After today’s Margiela couture show, caught up with Beyen to talk show-opener Molly Bair, collaborating with Galliano, and what he feels is the next big movement in modeling.

How did you approach the casting for Maison Margiela’s Fall 2015 couture show?

We started talking about the casting at least a month before the show, and John’s idea was to include androgyny within the cast. You see that with the boys, but also when you look at Erika Linder, whom we flew in from L.A. She was exclusive to us for couture this season. For this collection he didn’t want it to be too pretty, he didn’t want it to be too classic—it had to be modern and androgynous, that’s basically what we were looking for.

There were several boys featured on the Margiela runway, which is rare for couture, though.

We’d kind of been playing with that idea for a while. In the Resort lookbook we used Roan Louch, and John was inspired by him, so we started discussing [that] maybe we should use the boys for couture. But we can’t just use one, we have to use multiple, so I started casting and really looking at the men’s shows. We organized a go-see during men’s fashion week with Carl Sandqvist and John Whiles because at that stage we were already pretty sure that we were going to use either one. Once John met Carl and John, he felt very inspired by them and we decided they’d be right for the final show.

The boys selected fit so seamlessly with the whole cast

It was a challenge because, you know, there is the idea of androgyny, but androgyny in general is open to interpretation. We also didn’t want it to become a gimmick. It was a profound statement because there’s so much being discussed at the moment about gender fluidity and gender neutrality. I think the timing is right to play with that a little on the runway.

Molly Bair opened the show and she’s such a distinctive beauty—what made you select her for Look 1?

Molly had been a topic for a while in our conversations, and John had never actually met her, so we were kind of playing around with the idea. It’s also very much about the body for him, and Molly has such a tall, slender presence. We brought her in on a go-see because we don’t really do a huge casting. We do selective appointments with John because [he] is so busy working on the collection, he doesn’t have time to see 300 girls. With Molly, it went pretty quick: She came in, he fell in love with her, literally. He was very interested because she has such an alien kind of presence and she’s so fresh. Just as androgyny is open to interpretation, so is beauty. John thought she was very beautiful in her own way, and we all agreed, and she has this youthfulness and a personality, as well. It’s also very much about the characters; we never wanted to have an ethereal cast. That’s not what it’s about at Margiela: It’s about the character, and it’s as much about the girl as it is about the clothes for John Galliano. Molly is such a character, very personable and interesting.

Are there girls who are standing out for you right now?

Personally, I love a good model. I love someone with longevity. I think Nastya Sten is a great beauty. Josephine Le Tutour is a great beauty, has a good body, walks well. Sarah Brannon. Vanessa Moody is another one of those beauties with a fabulous body whom I’m absolutely convinced will have a really long career. Tami Williams and Aya Jones are exceptional, and I like seeing that there are so many great black girls working now. I think diversity is necessary on the runway—we have a long way to go still.

Do you feel street casting is necessary these days?

I think there are people who are really good at it and that have the time to do that, but I’m not one of them. It’s extremely time-consuming, and you’re also not dealing with an agent. You’re not dealing with people who are used to showing up on time for a fitting, showing up for a 5 a.m. call time.

Who is really dictating the trends in modeling right now?

I don’t see the trends manifesting themselves on the model side, I see them manifesting themselves on the client side. It’s easier for brands to distinguish themselves via their casting. You see it with Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Prada, which has always been a force when it comes to launching new faces. Brands are eager to say this is our girl, this is our boy, and with the wealth of models right now it’s easier to do that today.

It feels like Margiela is at the forefront of that, too. It’s really a show where the casting goes hand in hand with the clothes.

As a casting director, a show like this really gives you the opportunity to go beyond. With John, you really have to find the right characters, girls who can bring the ideas to fruition. So it’s a bit of work, but it’s fun, and it lets you go all the way. I personally did look at a lot of girls; I went through every one because it’s not necessarily about “who is she, what has she done,” it’s just, “Is she the right character for the dress?”

Glad to see Shaun speak fondly about diversity on the runways and its importance. But Margiela was not diverse at all -- Sora and Amilna were the only two there.

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The Casting Director Behind Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang Dishes on What It Takes to Be a Supermodel

The right casting can elevate runway shows, campaigns, and editorials—in many ways, it’s the final piece of the fashion puzzle—and no one knows that better than casting director, Anita Bitton. As the woman behind the casting at Alexander Wang, Marc Jacobs, and Balenciaga, Bitton's choices tend to have a reverberating effect throughout the industry. From pairing Kate Moss and Lara Stone for Balenciaga's latest ads to giving girls like Lexi Boling their first turns on the catwalk, Bitton and her team at The Establishment consistently create major fashion moments and mint brand-new industry superstars. With fashion month looming, we caught up with Bitton for some insight into the casting process, the reasoning behind those coveted exclusive contracts, and what it takes to turn a new face into a Gisele-level business.

Even for those in the fashion industry, casting is still largely veiled in mystery: Are there any misconceptions that you find particularly damaging?

I think the whole idea of "he discovered, she discovered, she owes you" gets in the way of the business of: This is a model, we're developing her/him, and this is how we're going to do it. I was a model agent, and I have a lot of respect for that process. But I think what happens now is there are so many people doing that job, and so many people are scouting, it's become such a lucrative business—you can walk around, find people, place the girl with an agency, and you can make money from it.

Do you think that the idea of overnight success has become too prevalent?

These girls don't become stars overnight, none of them do. You name me one. It just doesn't happen, there's a lot that goes into it. Just because I go to Sweden and see a girl at an agency, she isn't being discovered—she's a model waiting to be booked. Anna Ewers is a good example; Alex [Wang] sent me a picture of Anna—love this girl—she drove in from Germany to meet Alex, he met her, liked her, but she was really, really green. So then, what he did—what he's always done—was keep in touch with the girl, because you make your girl. It's that familiarity. And so she came back, and did another season, and did Valentino, and it happened very slowly. When a designer sees a model that he loves, you know, that designer-muse relationship is unbreakable, and he did discover her for that moment, but it took more than “discovery" to make her a star.

Do you feel it really begins with the clients and their specific needs?

For me that is what is most important: if I don't have a client, I don't have a job. I think the clients I work with have spectacular teams and we get to be a part of that process, but we don't stand out in that process, we work our butts off to best realize what they want. So we're managing their expectations, and their needs, and we're trying to elevate and bring new ideas to the table.

Exclusives have become a talking point for the entire modeling industry—how do you feel about the “exclusive" process?

I don't disagree with exclusives, I think nurturing the designer-muse relationship is important for many reasons. I think the problem arises when you start making restrictions, without it being part of a bigger picture. That's the job of the agents—we're here to work on behalf of the clients. You want someone who is part of the process. And my part as casting director is matching personalities. There are millions of amazing girls, but there are not many personalities that just click, and when it does, it's brilliant. You get Natalie Westling, Marc Jacobs, and Katie Grand; you get Lexi Boling, Alexander Wang, and Karl Templer.

For models, is connecting with the team crucial?

Absolutely—you can see [a girl's] brilliance, but until the team sees it, you can't help them become the model that they're going to be. And then to proclaim on them is just counterproductive. I don't disagree with exclusives, I think all of the reasons [to do them] are valid, whether it's ego, money, or just because a great looks-model is needed: All that stuff is completely valid. But I also feel that we shouldn't stunt models with too many restrictions. We have to allow girls the freedom to become a business like a Gisele.

You’re meeting and interacting with models daily—who are the women who really stand out to you?

Gisele and Christy Turlington, I just really admire them. Seemingly they have it all—the kids, the family, the career, but they work really hard and I respect that. You can see that they love what they do and that has allowed them to stand the test of time.

You regularly feature newer girls in the shows you cast; what is it that makes a newer model stand out for you?

I think it comes down to someone being willing to hone their craft; success comes when a girl is ready for it. Aamito [Lagum] turned up ready, and in a French market, where it's very difficult to push the idea of diversity, she did so many shows. She was in the best shows, and that was a management decision. She is ready, she turns up on time, she's just a really impressive, spectacular human being. She's old enough to have a conversation, she's groomed—she went through Africa's Next Top Model! So she did some training. You can't just walk one show for Prada, or Balenciaga, or Gucci; you can't walk one show and be a star. It's not going to happen, you have to learn. I just don't know that these [newer] girls are really given the chance to develop.

How can a girl hone her skills?

I always tell the girls: Take a dance class, learn your craft, look at models you like, what did they do? Raquel Zimmermann, Gisele, Karen Elson, Carolyn Murphy, why are they still here? They're amazing models. And they like to model. Who wants to be around somebody who doesn't really want to be a model?

Lexi [Boling] spent a lot of seasons with Alexander Wang doing looks and getting to know the collections; I think she is still learning to become a model, but she likes being a model. She's into it, she's working on her craft, and I admire that about her. Same with Anna Ewers, Vanessa Moody, I think those girls have been given an opportunity. They're all girls that we've worked with and seen develop. Julia Nobis, I worked with her first season, she did a lot of looks at Alexander Wang. That was a long stretch, but she's now a big model: That wasn't overnight. It won't be easy, but models need the opportunity to learn, to graze their knees and get back up again. These kids are splendid, they're brilliant. I like it when they love it.

we are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams. wandering by lone sea breakers and sitting by desolate streams. world losers and world forsakers, on whom the pale moon gleams. yet we are the movers and shakers of the world for ever it seems
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@Clay_boy I think this is such a good way of breaking it down - statistically! I hope you do this seasons shows as well!

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Is Anita Bitton casting Dior now? Because on Instagram Vera Van Erp and Peyton Knight tagged her in their photos from the pre-fall presentation.

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Originally Posted by Sensation View Post
Is Anita Bitton casting Dior now? Because on Instagram Vera Van Erp and Peyton Knight tagged her in their photos from the pre-fall presentation.
Same for Marjan J., Lena's Hardt and Caroline's Schurch! Anita should also be in charge of the Haute Couture Show on the 25th, I guess.
No more Dior and Jil Sander for Maida&Rami. They're not really key casting directors anymore, I would say...

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Anyone have the updated list of shows that are cast by Anita Bitton? We now know she's casting Dior and I suppose she still casts for Alexander Wang and Marc Jacobs

Katlin. Anabela. Nimue. Jac. Anna E. Malaika. Marine D.
Gina B. Yumi L. Ondria. Nastya K. Amra. Marthe W. Lera T. Harleth. Laura Julie. Julia B. Rianne. Larissa M.
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