Natalie Joos is a casting agent who books models for runway shows, editorials, advertising and videos. Her clients includes designers Helmut Lang and Philip Lim, photographer Mario Sorrenti and magazines such as Hercules and i-D. She shares much of her expertise on style and vintage fashion on her blog, Tales of Endearment.
How is editorial and advertising different from runway casting?
They are all different types of castings. Even though editorial and advertising are both for print they still require a different mindset. For advertising, you need to think of one girl that embodies the brand’s aesthetic and direction. Editorial girls are trendier; they can be a little bit outside of the box. Runways girls have to have it all: the right walk, the right body, the right face. Plus you are looking for 15+ girls, not just one or two. And the entire cast has to feel consistent and homogenous. It’s like a puzzle.
Do you to attend all shows you are casting?
I am backstage at every show I work on. I don’t get to see my shows live, just on the monitor.
Which models are in high demand now?
The big girls like Freja, Abbey Lee, Anja Rubic, and some new up and coming supermodels like Candice Swanepoel and Joan Smalls. Cute girls like Lindsay Wixon, Daphne Groeneveld. There were a few new faces this past season that I really loved: Kati Nesher at DNA, Marte at IMG, Karlina at Viva, Josefien Rodermans at Supreme.
Who do you see as the breakout stars for 2012?
Kati Nesher at DNA, Marte at IMG, Josefien Rodermans at Supreme.
How do you cast when the brief asks for “real women”?
I have been doing a lot of shoots with “real people” lately. I always look for girls who have something else going on besides just having a pretty face: DJ’s, writers, budding actresses, dancers. They have to be attractive but they can be any size or shape as far as I’m concerned, as long as they appeal to the right audience.
In your opinion do you think it would benefit companies to feature women that customers can relate to?
You are assuming that women don’t relate to the company’s spokesperson. I don’t think that’s true. Women often look up to and aspire to be the women in the magazines. Actresses and models and celebrities have aspirational lives and bodies and styles.
On the other hand, I don’t think there is shortage of real women either. Street style blogs are living examples. There’s plenty of opportunity to see real women with real lives and real clothes wearing your favorite designers. To each his own, no?
How has the casting business changed since you began in 2003?
I guess there are a lot more casting agents now? When I started there were really only the few big ones who had the majority (and still do!) of the big jobs. Now everyone and his mother wants to be a casting agent.
How is your approach different from other casting agents out there?
I have no clue! I never worked for any other casting agent, except Michelle Lee for one season of Marc Jacobs. I’m self-taught. And I get the job done. I’m very organized and neat and meticulous. I alphabetize everything — my assistants hate me for it — and work with binders and colors to keep everything in order. I have an army of assistants and interns that drive the model agents crazy with millions of phone calls a day during shows. And of course I have my own aesthetic. I always love the cute, young girls. But I adapt to each designer’s wishes. Every casting agent brings their own taste to the table.
To what to do you attribute your success?
I have good taste and I have an eye for beauty. It is something I can count on and never have to question.
As someone who is often photographed by street-style bloggers, its’ almost as if you are being casted yourself. Is there a photographer you look forward to being shot by?
I would like to ask my ex-boss Craig McDean to shoot me again.
Who has been your greatest casting discovery?
I would say I didn’t really discover anyone but I have my eye on the right girls who end up doing well eventually. I remember putting Kasia Struss in Tsumori Chisato show in her first season. She made it big the following season. We did the same with Suvi. I booked Marte Mei Van Haaster on the first day of London Fashion Week. I believe that was her first show ever. I didn’t discover Anais Poulliot but I have supported her from the beginning. I shot her for my blog with Adam Lippes last year. I booked An Oost in her first ad campaign with McDean. I placed Josefien Rodermans in my top thirty new faces for V Magazine last year and she went on the book an exclusive for Calvin Klein this season (her first season). I can claim that little act of visionary clairvoyance. And I am responsible for Delfine Bafort’s comeback.
When did you develop your hobby for shopping vintage?
Vintage shopping is a real thrill for me. I love the surprise element. When you find that one piece that makes you go: “Wooow!” I live for it. It must have started at my grandmother’s house. She had closets full of coats and accessories she had not thrown away since the 50’s or 60’s. She kept everything! I have a lot of her things.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I get up, pour a glass of grapefruit juice, sit down at my computer and basically don’t get off my chair unless I am thirsty, hungry or a delivery guy shows up. I spend a lot of time typing.