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New York Fashion Week Models: The Ultimate Guide From Jennifer Starr

What started as a simple runway round-up turned into one of the most interesting looks into the world of model casting I’ve ever read. Jennifer Starr began her tenure in the fashion industry at age 17 as a production assistant for Bruce Weber. Post grad, she returned to work for the master lensmen, and traveled the world scoping new faces for Abercrombie and Versace. Eventually, Starr broke out on her own, casting for Calvin Klein ads and finding the most heart-stopping faces in the world for The Pirelli Calendar. The director soon found her calling casting for the runway, starting with Jil Sander and soon after serving as the go-to model girl at Marc Jacobs, Narciso Rodriguez and Givenchy, with many, many more to come. Find out who to watch, how to cast, why a great bod is a necessity and more from this serious fashion pro.

StyleCaster: Tell me about some of the shows you worked on this season, how did the individual collections and designers influence your casting?

Jennifer Starr:
Ohne Titel: Flora Gill and Alexa Adams (designers) incorporated a lot of neoprene into the collection, including neoprene bathing suits/body suits, so girls with great bodies just off the beach with a bit of a tan looked best in their clothes.

J. Mendel: Gilles Mendel designed the costumes for the New York City Ballet earlier this year and his collection was heavily inspired by that work. His dresses and furs were pale in tone and featherweight. As most of them showed a lot of leg, there was nowhere to hide. I felt the girls that would look best in these clothes were girls that floated as opposed to stomped.

Ralph Lauren: The western theme called for a lot more coverage at times and an array of fabrics including lots of leather. Ralph tends to use a familiar cabin every season with all of his favorite girls sprinkled with a few lucky newcomers: beautiful girls with something special that Ralph sees in his current season’s film.

Did you find there to be a trend in models this season?

This season I saw more “pretty” girls in my castings. There were still many quirky/interesting new models but “pretty” had a strong presence. I was very happy to see so many new black and Asian models. Some of the breakout stars of the season were girls of color: Melodie Monrose from Wilhelmina, Anais Mall, Shena Moulton, and Fei Fei Sun. It was also hard not to notice the age of most of the new models: 16, and the origin of one out of about three hailing from Holland! I guess we can thank Doutzen for that!

What do you look for in a model?

I really appreciate a great walk and a great body one that I know a designer can put anything on. The girls I tend to like are girls that will most likely be around next season and the season after; they are not the girls that have a buzz for a moment and are in a big show with 60 other models and are never heard from again. I love girls with very special faces, but I also need them to be tall and have great proportions. Sometimes it kills me because I am dying over a face but the girl is 5’8”. A lot of designers don’t care so much about that and would prefer really unique faces.

So who are the breakout stars this season?

It’s so hard to give you names of breakout stars. I had a supermodel moment when Jessica Clark walked into my office. I was like, ‘NOW THAT’S A MODEL!’ I was really depressed when Calvin put her under exclusive, which meant she couldn’t walk any other show.

As far as brand new girls aside from the ones already mentioned, I loved Kristina (Romanova) from Women and Samantha Gradoville, Linnea (Regnander), Maddie Kulicka and Julia Step (Julija Steponaviciute) from IMG.

Where do you see the look of models evolving towards?

Before the shows started, a lot of magazines and newspapers were predicting the return of the supermodel. Many writers called me asking how I thought it was going to go. Last season four very relevant shows put the Victoria’s Secret girls on the runway and the belief was that the drone army casting of the past was over and the BODY was back. Well, we didn’t see much of those girls, but we did see a good mix of pretty, unique, curves, and androgyny. This season was an all-inclusive runway filled with faces that were actually identifiable. Isn’t that a nice thing!

Shena Moulton, Calvin Klein SS11

Shena Moulton, Richard Chai Love SS11

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