Opinions may vary on the ingredients of an epic model lineup.
It is no secret, in fact, its a stale topic at best, that social media plays a major part in casting. Anyone with an opinion is more than likely bored at this point with the argument of Instagram relevance. I will reiterate though that being able to hashtag #Gigi or #Kendall in your show publicity has trumped almost all traditional factors of casting excellence. That’s the bad and inevitable truth. With that said and out of the way there are five identifiable factors of excellent show casting.
#1. Fluidity (Seamless)
#2. Diversity (Above the Obvious)
#3. Balance (Top Tier and New Faces)
#4. Aesthetic (Designer’s Mood)
#5. Order (Well Calculated)
#1. Fluidity is simple. It’s about being able to strengthen your show with mood. Some models can’t help but walk down a runway with a smirk, some walk long and lean, some walk a little slower than most, some keep their heads slightly down and childlike. Fluidity isn’t about having all your girls exhibit the same runway personality but it is about creating a seamless run of models that seem as if they belong together in harmony. Having Sarah Brannon power walk behind Taylor Hill’s coquettish glide is not fluid.
#2. Here is a moment of brutal honesty when it comes to diversity. It is always great to see an ethnically diverse cast for about 25 different reasons; however casting only Lineisy Montero and Karly Joyce in every show is the lazy way to not get bad press about the lack of diversity. Though they are both flawless, some shows they are amazing for and some shows they simply aren’t - just like any other model. However, there are dozens upon dozens of ethnic models to choose from to fit any aesthetic. So it especially peaks the attention of model watchers when you see new non-white faces because it means you thought past the securing the “hardest to book” Black girl and went for girls that match your vision in all ethnicities.
#3. Okay, so you’ve got your Kendall, Greta, Mica, Binx...so on and so forth. Clearly you are working with a producer with enough pull to ensure your options are placed first with the agencies. But a show is nothing more than a red carpet without a balance of stars and breakout faces. Truly breakout. Not Yasmin Wijnaldum (opening every other show in every city) breakout. Enough vision to cast a girl based on mostly potential.
#4. The designer aesthetic is the true measure of a model's’ ability to be a star. As a model, your greatest attribute is malleability. The best of them are able to become what you need them to become. That’s a universal truth at this level of modeling. However, from a casting director's point of view, a measure of their talent is to be able to see who can pull off what. Even the POV of the designer can change from season to season. They all aren’t as married to a singular vision of Alessandro Michele or Hedi Slimane. So it is a true testament to casting talent when you can not only capture the aesthetic of the designer but the mood of that particular season. Many shows, like Tommy’s or H&M, focus on getting as many recognizable faces as possible and for these brands, it makes sense. Tommy Hilfiger and H&M should be seeking maximum mainstream accessibility. Their “identity” is completely universal and commercial. Anyone can wear the clothes and the models are there as decorative advertisements. However, for the general pool of shows, you want to book according to the overall mindset. It should feel right with the clothes, the soundtrack, the venue design...
#5. Calculated order. Same as with the looks and when they are scheduled to come out the gate. Opening and closing girls are crucial. An understanding of who is “strong” depending on the show is huge. It is a much harder job with shows that aren’t Prada, it's important to note. Prada has a long, important responsibility to break a new face with their opening girl. Prada opening girl is the runway equivalent to the Meisel one girl story. So by purely being the opening girl at Prada (or Marc) you have established your strength in the show and to add to that fact you are on an exclusive so the competition is void. People expect to see someone new, so there is no added pressure of getting the "right" girl or the hard to book girl to open or close your show.
With my five crucial factors identified, my favorite lineup of show season was Stella McCartney. I thought the familiar faces felt like they belonged to her show and not just there for booking value; they felt congruent with the soft modernity of the clothes. Of course among the newsworthy shows were star packed Tommy Hilfiger and the Katie Grand orchestrated Miu Miu that were supreme Snap/Gram fodder and polar opposite Vetements casting that bored and disappointed us all. Marc Jacobs and Prada maintained positioning with quality lineups but they didn't veer too far into 'above and beyond' territory this season. Stella's lineup was timely, with top girls with no reality television lineage (Edie, Fei Fei, Kaitlin - and I live for a Kaitlin Aas moment). Breaking faces that bring out the quirk in the collection (Kate Young, Ari Westphal, Abby Bass...) and a diverse point of view, not for simply for the point of diversity. If I had one teeny area I would've changed it would have been opening with Damaris. In such a strong show, she didn't feel quite right to open, but she was a great fit otherwise.