With Fashion Week fast approaching there are a myriad of people working behind the scenes making it come together -- including model casting directors. These are the people that decide what models end up in ad campaigns, editorial shoots and walking in runway shows -- negotiating with schedule conflicts and budgets along the way.
Stefanie Stein has done the casting for Jimmy Choo ad campaigns, Wallpaper magazine covers, Target commercials and runway shows like Joseph Altuzarra. She earned her stripes as a casting director at mega agency AR New York before launching Stefanie Stein Casting in 2008. She says, “My career has been a surprise to me. I wasn’t even aware that casting was a career option until my senior year of college when I interned for a casting director during summer break. The contacts that I made during that summer led to my first job out of college and everything else fell into place from there.”
This season she is casting six shows and presentations including Wes Gordon, Frank Tell and Gregory Parkinson -- an undertaking that is a lot more complicated than simply picking out the prettiest models around. “The process can begin as early as a designer has sketches,” Stein says. “The casting strategy is based on the designer’s collection and their inspiration for the season. I meet with the designer multiple times, after which I start seeing models at ‘go-sees’. After we decide what models we are interested in, I negotiate with their agents and try and get the girls that are the best fit for the collection and the designer’s budget.” Working with some designers to cast their Fashion Week show can therefore span months, while for others it is more of a last minute job.
And considering it’s not uncommon for top models to walk in several shows a day, each requiring their own hair and makeup, the biggest challenge according to Stein as a casting director is “definitely the schedule.” She says, “There are so many shows that there are always scheduling conflicts. You need to be able to figure out the models’ schedules and make sure they are going to show up at the right place on time.”
As for the Spring 2012 show season, Stein says, “I think we will start seeing more Asian models this season. There will also be a lot of new faces on the scene. Last show season, designers were a little conservative and opted for more classical looking models. I feel this season everyone is looking for breakout stars and are willing to take more risks.”