Casting models for fashion week

Every fashion week, magazines write articles about runways, models, crowds attending shows, but it is rare to see a magazine posting an article about the model casting process.  Many people in or out the industry may not have a clear perception as we never really ask ourselves the reasons why fashion brands want to hire this type of model or another in order to deliver their vision to the audience. To get a better understanding of the process of having models on a show, I asked New Yorker Roberto Sosa who works in the Parisian division of AM Casting, a model casting agency based in New York and Paris.

First of all, can you tell me more about AM casting?

Roberto Sosa: AM casting is purely a casting company that works on campaigns, editorials and fashion shows. The company was founded in 2004, by Angus Munro and Noah Shelley and opened the Parisian division thanks to Svea Greichgauer. Greichgauer runs the Parisian department independently for the headquarters in New York.

Can you explain your job during fashion weeks with AM Casting?

We start casting models four days before the show, generally, there are two days of castings, one day of fittings and the day of the show. In terms of criteria, when we start working, we get a brief from the client, we see the collection and the inspiration, where they want to go and what they feel, in order to get the certain type of girl they want, like either a beautiful girl or a cool girl vibe. Sometimes, the client would ask for girls who are 1.80m – “6foot” tall and that’s it, they don’t want shorter models as there are some dresses that would only look good on tall women so we need to facilitate that for the client. But these are the strictest criteria we can have.

What type of models do your clients want on their show right now?

Obviously, all brands want girls that are established or girls that are new faces. You can look at Charlie from IMG Models or Indra from Next Models, who have a strong presence on the runway but especially there is now a girl that everybody wants: Sarah Fraser.  She comes from a very small agency and you will see her in every damn show, every season. There is always a girl that comes out of New York, very high that everyone picks up in London, Milan, and Paris. If a girl has a good season in New York she’ will have a good season in Europe.

Could you tell us more about your fashion week journey as you work on the four major ones?

It’s stressful, exhausting, unforgiving! (smiling). I look back at the last 6 weeks and feel like it’s been 2 years when someone asked me about New York… to me it happened ages ago! (laughing) It’s very demanding, there is a ton of rush but it kind of excites everyone and keeps us all going. The aspect of going from one client to another is a lot more interesting to me than having a 9am to 5pm job where you’re always inside a studio. Don’t get me wrong! I’m always inside a studio myself for ten or 12 hours a day! However, not only are you dealing with clients’ expectations but also with stylists’ expectations and you have personal relationships with a lot of Asians over the years because they have a certain expectation of what to show and what the collection looks like. We look at production, we look at styling; you look at the creatives and you look at the girls. We’re in the middle of that whole circle and everyone is looking at us to make it happen.

In your opinion, what is the best fashion week out of the main 4 to work on?

There is always a little bit… of preferences, I would say Paris and New York, those are really the centers of fashion. Obviously, Milan is up there, but when you have a schedule where New York starts the fashion weeks, then you have London, Milan, and Paris, it often happens that a large number of girls don’t go to London. They go straight to Milan, just attend one or two shows and then go to Paris. Because if you look at the schedule, the last day of Milan is also the first day of Paris Fashion Week and as I told you, we need 4 days to put a show together, so if they want to work for Paris, they need to leave Milan early. London is the one that is having the most difficult time, there are a lot of girls who are not coming, same for casting directors. New York and Paris are definitely the cities that have the most weight because they get the most exposure and also it’s the beginning and the end, so everyone is going to be there. For me working in New York is fun whereas, in London, you need to drive 40 minutes to an hour from one show to another and it’s a huge problem.

So you’re saying that London shouldn’t be on the schedule anymore?

Yeah, I think so, and you have the Asian markets that are coming along…

Do you think an Asian city like Tokyo, Seoul or Shanghai will replace London?

I wouldn’t say that London will be replaced because then you would be flying from New York to Tokyo or Shanghai and then come back to Europe. They are just going to continue their own fashion weeks.

To conclude, what would be your advice for someone who wants to work in your field?

Keep your head up, have a thick skin, when someone asks you something, just say ok. Because when you’re new, you’re learning so you always have something to prove and most of the time those people who keep telling you something, are the people that already have proven themselves. They don’t need to hear your explanation for anything. If there is something that they told you to do and they come back to say it shouldn’t be like this, don’t try to explain yourself. The best way to explain yourself is by correcting and doing a better job.

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