INTERVIEW: Natalie Joos for Coach, plus her thoughts on casting, street style and the politics of New York Fashion Week
The last couple of months has seen a tipping point for multi-skilled digital creatives luxuriating in the limelight. Garance Dore has just collaborated with Kate Spade, as well as penning her first Vogue Paris column, as well as modelling in the Net-a-Porter campaign. Sophy Robson has just started her nail-and-style column for In-Style and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a full own-name line launch within the year. And Emily Weiss continues to expand Into The Gloss with her smart mix of writing, modelling, photography, make-up artistry and enviable connections – not to mention impeccable taste.
But my favourite fashion hyphenate of the moment is Natalie Joos; casting agent, blogger (Tales of Endearment), street style star, writer, stylist and self-stylist. Her latest gig is this cute modelling-styling shoot for Coach to launch its new colour-pop Legacy collection…
Joos kindly contributed some answers to a feature I wrote on fashion shows for H&M magazine earlier this year, but I could only use a couple of her soundbites. On the eve of New York Fashion Week, I thought it would be nice to share the rest of her insights into the job of a casting agent (she cast the AW12 shows for Karen Walker, Charlotte Ronson, Rachel Comey, Calla, Dion Lee and Collette Dinnigan), being a ‘street style star’ and the politics of modelling…
DISNEYROLLERGIRL: How would you sum up your role as a casting agent for fashion week shows?
NATALIE JOOS: As a casting agent I find the best girls or boys to represent a designer’s collection. I am the link between the model agencies and the designer. I introduce the designer to who’s out there, through my own aesthetic filter and put the best possible line-up together with whoever turns out to be available. I talk to the model agents and guide the designer through the process of casting, fittings and bookings.
DRG: How has your job changed in the last five years? There are more fashion weeks and more shows shoe-horned into them, plus the ever present TV cameras and street style bloggers. Does this make your work harder? Busier? More exciting?
NJ: The only way my job has changed is that I am a bit more comfortable in my role. After doing this for a few years and strengthening my relationships with agents, I have learned how to delegate, work with assistants and have less stress. Regarding street style bloggers and cameras, the fact that people are interested in me as a casting agent and as a street style celeb has made my work more exciting, but also busier. It’s like I have two jobs to do, one in front and one behind the camera. It’s a bit schizo too though.
DRG: Have the models changed in this time?
NJ: I don’t think the models have changed. We have just gone through certain trends and looks. They are now asked to act too though – there are a lot of video platforms because a lot of publications have gone online. And I have to say, the best models are the worst actors!
DRG: When casting, what is the difference between a big extravaganza for an established brand and a small presentation for a hot new designer?
NJ: The easiest shows to cast are the ones for the big designers – it’s easy as pie. Every model wants to work with the big designer; for a casting agent it’s just a matter of choosing the favorites. Casting a presentation for a new designer is hellish. No model wants to do a standing presentation or lose an entire hour (as opposed to 15 minutes on the runway). There’s a lot of begging, pleading and waiting involved. There’s usually a lot less money for the models and a lot of competition from designers showing at the same time. The prestige is definitely in the big hoopla show!
DRG: What is the most prestigious show?
NJ: In my opinion Prada is the best show for any girl to do. Then Jil Sander. They will make a new girl into a coveted model instantly. She’ll be on all the editors’ minds for their upcoming editorials and campaigns.
DRG: If fashion week is now all about mega models and ultra A list front rows, is there any hope for younger designers to get coverage? Will people still come and see a show by a new low-key designer?
NJ: Everyone gets coverage! If you show, someone will come see. It’s always been about big models and front rows. What has changed is the amount of designers. New York has an insane, impossible schedule! As a new designer, you have competition from at least 3 or 4 shows and presentations at the same time. And all these designers are competing for the same models. It’s super stressful and frustrating. It certainly makes my job a lot harder!
DRG: How do you see the future of fashion shows? Will they stay as trade events or turn into public entertainment events?
NJ: Seeing a show live is still a memorable experience. Seeing the clothes/models/audience up-close still beats watching the collection on-line. I especially love the music! I’m always the only one dancing in my seat. Shows are definitely for entertainment, but that’s mostly outside, on the street where the street style photographers do their thing.