Super Bowl mania may have swept over most of New York yesterday, but for hundreds of models dashing around the city for castings, the only thing on their minds was the “Super Bowl” of the modeling industry: New York Fashion Week, which is charging toward all of us full-speed ahead. However, that didn’t stop casting director Andrew Weir of ACW Worldwide from being graciously accommodating to the die-hard sports model fans who showed up at his massive casting call on Sunday. “We scheduled for the boys to come early because we know they all wanted to watch the game,” he said at the Library at the Hudson Hotel, where Andrew held the call for shows including Lacoste, Y-3, Zac Posen, Rebecca Taylor, and G-Star.
“We hold this casting each season because it will give us an idea of who is out there,” says Andrew. “We want to see everyone so that it lets us do our jobs for the next six months.” With so many fresh faces flowing into the city, Andrew is determined to not only see the cream of the crop, but always enthusiastic about seeing the new, fresh discoveries. “There are so many scouts looking everywhere now around the globe, exploring territories where there aren’t even trains to find some of these new girls.”
Over 500 boys and girls from every major agency turned out and walked for Andrew, hailing from all corners of the world: Australia, Russia, Poland, Canada, China, Brazil, and Americans from California, Florida, Kansas, and Texas. A model from Kansas commented, “I’ve only been signed by Major for a few weeks, so this is my first time to New York.” When Andrew saw her he said to his team, “Oh! This was the gorgeous girl they e-mailed us about on Friday!”
Top female runway stars like Ali Stephens, Tao Okamoto, Lindsay Ellingson, Liu Wen, Siri Tollerød, Lisanne De Jong, and more showed up. Arlenis Sosa stopped by with male model beau Rene Rodriguez in tow, and canoodled while Andrew chatted with them, who laughed and shouted, “I don’t need to see this one walk—she’s already a star!”
“I just got back from Paris shooting an editorial,” said Arlenis. “It’s top secret, and it’s going to blow everyone away!” Marilyn newbie R’el Dade, who had a stellar first season for Fall, squealed to us, “One of my favorite shows I got to walk in last season was Y-3 (which Andrew casted). I hope I get to do it again. I also can’t wait to go to Paris!” Seasoned pro Ali Stephens was one of the lucky few who got to bypass the weaving line and divulged how she decompresses. “I try to go back home to Utah once a month and literally do nothing and see my family and friends.” Tasha Tilberg, with shorn hair and cool nose ring intact, decided it was time for her to return to the runway after a hiatus. After living in L.A. for a while, she wanted to be bicoastal because she missed New York. “It’s a much different business now than it was before. There are so many new girls. I know I am older and these girls are really young, but I wanted to do shows again because I miss the energy of the city.”
Andrew, who was a former casting director for Calvin Klein, started his own company ACW Worldwide in 2001. (For the record, he waited tables when he first moved to New York from Dallas in the ’90s.) ACW’s first client job was casting a shoot for Steven Meisel. Since then he continues to work regularly with Meisel and other heavyweights, casting major campaigns like Hugo Boss and runway shows for high profile clients like Y-3, Viktor & Rolf, Z Zegna, and more. Working with so many renowned photographers inspires him to pick up the camera himself—he shoots models in artful black and white shots, most of which can be seen on his site.
At Sunday’s casting, girls stomped up and down the Library for Andrew, most clad in black tights, skintight tops—all in towering shoes. “It’s an Asian, Dutch, and Swedish invasion!” he said to his staff. He likes to ask each model where they’re from; one said “France,” and he gestured to her, “This way, s’il vous plaît,” motioning her to walk for him. “Lovely.”
“I usually find four or five amazing ones I’ve never seen before out of hundreds who come to the castings we hold,” he said. One new girl he hadn’t laid eyes on before who piqued his interest was Veroniek Gielkens from DNA, whose determined stare and strong walk made him pause. “Walk again for me,” he asked her. And as she strutted, he exclaimed to the entire room, “Well, you got that down! Wow. Supermodel.”
You better work, girls! ~ David Ninh