This is an interesting time in modeling.
There’s been a wave of nostalgia for the most famous supermodels of the 1990s, who star in a new Apple TV+ documentary series and recently graced the covers of British and American Vogue.
Vogue magazine is also eager to recruit fresh talent.
“Sometimes we feel like we’re stuck in a rut of just shooting the same girls,” says Rosie Vogel-Eades, Vogue’s global director of talent and casting, acknowledging that the magazine has not traditionally been a channel. for discovering new faces. Generally speaking, its models have walked the catwalk and achieved institutional fame.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be tried. “Who’s the new girl?” Ms. Vogel-Eads asked.
So, to satisfy its thirst for new blood, Vogue took a semi-old-school route. In April, the magazine cast a global search for models, not unlike the way magazines decades ago used open competitions to select young women to serve as guest editors (Mademoiselle) or cover models (Seventeen).
Aspiring Vogue models, who are required to have “feminine characteristics” and be 18 or older except in 2023, are asked to submit videos suitable for social media. Members of the committee overseeing the competition want to prioritize diversity — a recent concern for those in power in the fashion industry.
Two of the models, one living in Ghana and the other in the UK, said they were interested in becoming lawyers. One model, originally from South Africa, said she had never flown on a plane until this summer when she traveled to London for a photoshoot with the other finalists. The only American chosen was a recent Vassar graduate who double majored in psychology and women’s, feminist and queer studies. Their name is Mars – no surname. The competition’s Japanese finalist is also named Dulmi – no last name.
Vogue hosted a cocktail party for its models in Paris on Tuesday night and flew in for the event (except for Mars, who was sick).
They munched on hors d’oeuvres and cheerfully posed for photos — one had a digital camera hanging from her wrist, “for vlogging,” she said — while another accidentally airdropped his phone A golden hour photo taken on and sent to a stranger. At least one model plans to visit the Eiffel Tower before leaving town. Another person was quietly pulled away to greet Anna Wintour, who was seen chatting with film director Baz Luhrmann in a quiet corner.
Members of the selection committee said the global open casting call follows a China casting call led by Vogue China editor-in-chief Margaret Zhang and is a response to a rather homogeneous Paris Fashion Week earlier this year. Respond directly.
“Size diversity on the runways is almost non-existent,” said Mark Guiducci, Vogue’s creative editorial director, citing a report that fewer than 100 of the looks shown on the runway that season % worn by plus size models.
As a result, editors began “thinking about how we could have a meaningful impact, not just by holding designers and brands to task, but actually helping our platform make a difference,” said Guido, who has served on the committee for seven years Mr. Qi said. Other members of the Vogue magazine masthead. They were joined by DMCasting’s two casting directors, Instagram’s Eva Chen and model and size diversity advocate Paloma Elsesser.
However, of the final group of women selected, only two could be classified as curvy models, and both appeared to be more medium (US size 6 to 12) than large (US size 14 and above).
Ms. Elsesser said this fact was “100 percent raised” by her and Vogue’s global fashion editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson. (However, Ms. Khalifa-Johnson added that among the tens of thousands of applicants, “there was not a large proportion of curve model submissions” to choose from.)
“We have a lot of work to do,” said Ms. Elsesser, who wore a Jacquemus look — an off-the-shoulder sculpted minidress paired with black tights and red square-toe pumps — to the Vogue party.
For models going through the casting process, she said, “There’s still a very weird elephant in the room, no pun intended, surrounding fatphobia.” Medium and “slightly curvy” models are easier to find than larger ones been accepted.
“I want to be everywhere,” said Colette Kanza, one of two Curve Model finalists. A Parisian from the Netherlands, she already represented agencies before being picked up by Vogue. (Not all finalists do.) “I want to be an icon,” she said.
“You’re already an icon,” replied Rayan El-Mahmoud, a Ghanaian model with freckles, a mane of explosive red curls and similar ambitions. “I want to be a supermodel. I want to be everywhere. Every billboard.”
Ms. Vogel-Eads and Ignacio Murillo, Vogue’s global casting director, have been working to select the finalists for the show. The most successful so far is Moroccan model Rania Benchegra, who was chosen exclusively by Versace for her recent Milan show, meaning she was unable to walk for any other brand in Italy . This was her first time working on such a large scale and she had been nervous.
“I know all eyes are on me,” Ms. Bencheguera said. “I knew that if I did well, it would be my path to other things. But if I messed up, I was screwed.” (It wasn’t over yet. As of press time, Ms. Bencheguera was in Paris Two major fashion shows were held during Fashion Week.)
It’s easy to understand why Vogue chose these women: they can easily be imagined as frozen in laughter, happy and energetic, with their hands on their waists, like the models.
But there are many young and beautiful people in this world looking for modeling jobs. How did Vogue find this group of people? What qualities embody what it means to be beautiful in 2023—or beautiful enough to win an international modeling competition?
The answer is not as simple as the question.
Ms Vogel-Eads said it was no longer just “one look” that would bring success to a model. “Gone are the days when designers only showed one look on the runway because it didn’t feel modern anymore,” she said, citing the fashion phase of Russian models or Brazilian models. “What I value most is personality. I like girls who are fun, talkative.” And enthusiastic.
“A lot of models don’t necessarily really like modeling,” she continued. “People who enter competitions usually really want to compete. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I was on my way to the supermarket and someone chased me, and I never really considered modeling.'” (This is known in the industry as Casting for the Streets. This is how Naomi Campbell and many others discovered big names.)
“It’s great that they showed up on time,” said Mr. Murillo, the casting director. “Some girls are not among them. I don’t know why they do it.”
Ms. Elsesser said she was looking for “star power”: “I’m not the tallest. I’m not Miss Walker” (referring to her runway-strutting skills). “I’m not someone’s daughter. But to some people, I’m a star, and that’s all that matters.”
Guiducci said he follows his “gut reaction as an editor” to questionable modeling trends, such as “wider eye-sets.” “It feels so old-fashioned to talk like this,” he said.
“We are impressed by people who are skilled at using TikTok or Instagram Reels videos (who are able to create content),” Mr. Guiducci said. “Anna Wintour said of supermodels, ‘You look at them not for what they wear, but for who they are.’ Personality is what you’re looking for.”