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A beautiful selection: how to cast a model

Michael Lo Sordo consults his stylist Marina Afonina about which models to cast for his show.

Michael Lo Sordo consults his stylist Marina Afonina about which models to cast for his show.

Fashion Banquet is following one of the designers showing at Australian Fashion Week in the countdown to the style frenzy in Sydney which begins on Monday.

Today is model casting day for Michael Lo Sordo. He has 30 women to consider as models for 21 looks. He is using models from one agency: Pricilla’s Model Management Sydney which looks after beautiful faces such as the exquisite brunette Bambi Northwood-Blyth and the bubbly blonde Cheyenne Tozzi.

His off-site show has its dressing space across the road from the venue so the plan is one model, one outfit, no changes. This simplifies matters. Ordinarily a model will stride out in one look, disappear backstage and dive into a new ensemble, then stroll out once more looking unruffled a surprisingly short time after her first look.

The 30 women Lo Sordo is considering include a few international models who have flown in for the casting from locations as far-flung as America and Switzerland.

‘‘We try and get the best pick of the girls. There are a few big names hopefully we can score,’’ he says.

At the casting, the models will walk for him. He’s got some ‘‘on hold’’ already so that no one else can nab them in his time slot.

As for what Lo Sordo is looking for in a model, he’s not fussed about matters of hair colour or length. It’s more about ‘‘a particular kind of essence’’.

‘‘You can’t buy that. I want to girl to be unique in herself in a way. It’s not about a bunch of models who all look the same.’’

He has heard of models in Europe who do campaigns for big brands but are not paid in money. Their benefit is a cover shot that goes around the world.

This makes the models sound like they’re being exploited, in fact, recent reports have emerged of models complaining of being paid in only clothes by the likes of Marc Jacobs.

Asked if models have power, Lo Sordo says, ‘‘They can say no, they can say what they want. They get advice. Everyone who has a minder will get advised on the right decisions to make.’’

Lo Sordo’s biggest backstage drama with a model happened at a New York event when one of his models fainted. She began to buckle so he scooped her up in his arms, carried her and fed her a banana.

One thing Fashion Banquet has wondered is why catwalk models so often wear sour expressions – so grumpy it’s like they’ve just spotted their ex-boyfriend. Only swimwear models seem to be allowed to grin brightly.

‘‘They’re not grumpy,’’ Lo Sordo laughs. ‘‘They’re strong. Not necessarily bad-ass. But it’s not daisies and roses down the runway. Fashion is serious business you know.’’

Claire Low is on Twitter: @clairelow.


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