Iceland, Miami, Los Angeles, Paris, Egypt, Turkey and New York have in common? These are all cities where Drew Linehan, Founder of Trew Productions has casted fashion shows. His approach combines a keen eye for discovering beauty, and special skill for finding that innocuous inspiration with a wicked sense of humor. From ladylike (Douglas Hannant) to edgy (Jeremy Scott) to emerging talent (Asia Fashion Collection), Drew does it all with flair and finesse. Styling shows, teaching models to walk, and discovering new talent, are all tricks of his trade. When he’s not working Fashion Week, Drew can be caught on television judging Project Runway, talking about models on Dr. Phil or planning a major AMFAR event. He’s the man who loves models and so much more.
Tell us about the career trajectory that led to the launch of Trew Prodcuctions?
After graduate school, I was antique dealer in London, and worked for Christie’s. My Visa expired and I had no choice but to come back to the United States. I arrived back in New York planning on working in art and antiques. A social friend of mine worked for Alex de Betak of Bureau de Betak and suggested I help out as a backstage runner.
It was for the DKNY Men’s Show and after five minutes backstage, I knew I had found my calling. I loved the energy, models, everything about it!
After stints as a model agent at DNA and bookings editor for Mirabella and then Marie Claire, I finally made the move and opened Trew Productions in August 2001.
In addition to casting, what services to you offer?
We are a full service agency and offer production, casting and styling. Once I get to know a client’s taste, I also help making connections with celebrities and creatives.
How do you approach casting a show? Is there a method to your madness?
Basically, I meet with designer to talk about the mood, image and feel of the collection as well as their inspiration. I am really good at making their image happen thirty or more times in a show. I love a challenge. I remember once Perry Ellis once told me 1950’s fisherman from the Coast of France.
I know the status of the models, but for me status comes in second. It’s about the clothes first. I don’t play the name game because I don’t think that works. Designers on that high level get all the big girls. When designers don’t have that kind of budget or prestige that is where I excel in delivering a smart, strategic casting.
Do you work on casting in cities other than NYC?
Yes. Miami, LA, Paris, Milan, Iceland, Egypt, Turkey
How can you spot the next “it” girl or boy?
I definitely was the first person to use Daria W. for runway. People thought I was insane when I used Jamie B. She was a waitress at a diner in LA thinking about being a model and I nabbed her for a job.
What do you think makes models special?
It’s not just beauty as there are many beautiful girls and boys out there. It’s an energy that you can see as soon as they walk into a room.
What do you think models and Instagram and how important has that become?
As a model it’s hugely important that you have your Instagram game strong. It’s so relevant and part of the game. We are even finding that some clients book their models based on their number Instagram followers over their walk or looks. As my nieces told me Facebook is for people over 40 and today it’s all about Instagram!
What do you think of Kendall Jenner?
I think she is a very very beautiful, pretty tall skinny girl. Could I find someone who looks like her at the Beverly Center? Yes.
Do you teach models how to walk?
Every season we probably give Walking Classes for 3-4 agencies. Typically, the classes are 60 – 90 minutes with 3-8 girls. We teach them 3 different walks: cold shoulder – fierce/the slide – lady show and candy cane.
Strangest thing you’ve ever seen backstage?
Craziest thing I’ve ever seen backstage really famous model named Hannah Lor (she’s been on the cover of Italian Vogue) and her dresser getting into physical fight. She punched her dresser. It was a backstage bar fight!
You’ve been on some television programs?
I was Final Judge on Season One of America’s Next Top Model as well as on the program in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Singapore, and Taiwan. I appeared as lead guest on a Dr. Phil segment about why models are so thin.
On that note, do you think most models eat enough?
People would be surprised about how much models eat! Their DNA is naturally thin. In most instances, there is no more anorexia or bulimia backstage than at any high school. My issue is with the models being too young. I make a conscious effort not to use models below 16. I think it’s inappropriate for young models to be backstage without parental guidance. Plus, I find it offensive for smart, intelligent women who have strived to succeed and designers still tell them that they have to be a teenager to look good in their clothes. How do you tell the CEO of Google that no matter what success you’ve achieved it’s still all about youth?
What is your dream runway show to cast?
My dream would be to produce, style and cast my own label.