And Now It's Time to Catwalk...for Your Life: Casting for New York Fashion Week with Andrew Weir and ACW Worldwide
Feb 07, 2012 - by Lester Brathwaite
"Now watch the flames shoot out of her feet," gushes casting director Andrew Weir after instructing veteran catwalker Tanya Dziahileva to take a stroll. Adding, "And she is giving us a loooook," in reference to the model's fingerless lace gloves and a rather jaunty chapeau. The fashion was a major point of conversation during Andrew Weir's ACW Worldwide Casting event this Saturday. So much so that Mr. Weir mentioned that he'll have trend-forecasters on-site next time around. Having noticed girl after girl march by wearing variations on a singular theme, Mr. Weir proclaimed, "The trend this season is all about black, skinny jeans with this sort of waxy finish. It's a sea of black." The one exception was a model who dared to wear a beautiful white dress by The Row -- "I hope you keep it clean," he warns.
If you were in the city this weekend, you might have noticed a number of freakishly tall and thin girls running around town, their books in hand,which means one thing -- it's casting time for New York Fashion Week! Over the course of six hours, hundreds of girls -- from up-and-comers to bona fide runway stars -- ushered through the Hudson Hotel's gorgeous library to see and be seen by Andrew Weir and his team of professional model wranglers from ACW Worldwide.
"I met her seasons ago in Paris when she was 14," Weir later tells me once Tanya Dziahileva has left, with more than a hint of wistful sentiment. "I could never pronounce her last name and I don't even try. She's always been Tanya D. to me." On his note card he writes "No Words."
Mr. Weir seems to have a personal relationship with many of the models that stomp through his biannual casting. He jokes with them, asks them about their vacations, their families and boyfriends -- anything to make them feel at ease. Meeting a doe-eyed 16-year old Brazilian who spoke little to no English and who was wandering about the city all by her lonesome, he seems genuinely concerned. But he is also impressed with her walk, noting that she indeed has potential although she's not quite ready for the runway.
Whenever a girl does strike his particular fancy, Weir has them walk twice, maybe more and he personally takes their photo. In the case of Arlenis Sosa and Ajak Deng -- both big names in the industry -- a fuss is understandably made with Mr. Weir remarking to Ajak, "You're going to lose three pounds by show time we're gonna make you walk so much!" But sometimes there is a new girl that also warrants a fuss, such as a statuesque brunette who recently switched agencies. "If you're at the wrong agency, I'll never see you. It's insane," he says before taking some photos of the girl. After she's left he confides in one of his agents, "She's going to be huge. This is like a star moment."
Which has to be a compliment to any young model -- a seal of approval from one of the top casting directors in the business. However, only time will tell if he will cast her for one of the four shows ACW is handling this season: Jen Kao, Thakoon, Rebecca Taylor and Joseph Abboud. Sunday saw the second round of casting and the final list will be decided upon the night before the shows. For some girls it will be a busy season and for others it will be better strut next time.
One girl who made an impression had walked for Mr. Weir in the past, but like the doe-eyed Brazilian teenager, she wasn't "there" yet. "Quite an improvement from a few seasons ago," Mr. Weir says with a smile of approval. He then gets up from his chair to take several pictures of the model, jots down a few notes about her then calls the next sartorial lamb to the altar.
Photos: Richard Guaty