I rarely ever claim to know much, if anything, about fashion. I like what I like and I know if something fits and generally I have an idea of whether it’s commercially viable (read: going to sell) or not, but ask me anything beyond that and I’m stuck. Ask me about Prada’s Spring/Summer 2004 show and all I can tell you is that there were probably clothes in it. Ask me about silhouettes and what they’re influenced by, and about anything technical or about the history of fashion and I’ll just give you a blank stare. Ask me about New Zealand models, however, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to school you.
It’s funny what pieces of information the brain chooses to retain. My knowledge of Auckland/New Zealand models (ages, agencies, names, heights, jobs, etc) is pretty extensive considering it’s quite a specific, small, niche subject. This ‘knowledge’ hasn’t really ever been very handy in life – your average employer doesn’t care if you know what school Kendell Tobin goes to, that she likes japanese food and is 5’11″ – but, recently this weird obsession of mine gave me quite a fun and exciting opportunity:
Last week I organised my very first model casting.
It was for sustainable knitwear brand, Untouched World. We’d been introduced, the brand and I, firstly via a particularly interesting fashion week invite (wool stuffed into a metal box), secondly via email, and thirdly and finally in person, three weeks ago in Christchurch. Over lunch in the Garden City, we discussed a myriad of things regarding the brand, and one of them happened to be Untouched World’s upcoming Spring/Summer 2012-2013 campaign. They needed models – two, to be precise – and after extensive chats, it came to be that I was the chosen one to present them with options.
So there I was a week later, very specific brief in one hand (tall, but not too tall, with soulful eyes, great at moving with an energy about them, worldly, fresh and young, yet wise and experienced – ageless, actually… the list goes on), a phone in the other, and a million agency websites in the middle. For hours I scoured portfolios of girls and boys and made lists and contacted agencies to see who was free for the casting, free for the shoot date and fit my criteria.
Come last Wednesday I was feeling pretty exhausted, but excited too. Untouched World and I saw models from 11:00am until 4:15pm. It was a long, long day full of tall, thin people. It’s hard not to feel completely
jealous physically inadequate when standing next to some of these girls and boys – as someone who’s only 5’4″, the shortest girl that came in still had a good 3.5″ on me and a good 5-10kg off me (if you know what I mean). Regardless, I got through it and I’m happy to say as of today, we’re up to the final stages of choosing/negotiating the two new campaign faces.
So with any good project undertaken, I reflect back. What did I learn from all of this? Lots. Some models are like big babies. They get told where to go and when and don’t have to deal with any details – in many cases, agencies must be like their parents – they tell the models what to do. Some are useless and don’t show up or show up late. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you’ve got a client flying in from Christchurch for a few hours just to see your face, it pays to be on time – if not early. Some turn up without their books or their cards so you have no idea what they look like in photos. And even if they do have a card – the measurements aren’t to be trusted. 5’10″ my ass! More like 5’8″. Blue eyes? On a good day! 33 inch hips? Yeah, if by 33 you mean 35.
Other things I learnt? I knew my model knowledge retaining skills would get me somewhere! It helps to know a lot of models. My weird knowledge of the girls and boys around town came into good use. Hanging around models backstage and knowing how they move and how they talk and what they like and don’t like and what their skin looks like without makeup and how tall they look in person is kind of invaluable information when it comes to things like this. I don’t want to brag, but I was perfect for this job…
Look out folks. Model casting: This may be my new calling.