Sunday, October 6, 2013

Exclusive Interview - Natalie Joos

Casting director Natalie Joos' distinct appreciation of beauty has graced the runways of a diverse portfolio of clients including 3.1 Phillip Lim, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Osklen, Yigal Azrouel, Karen Walker, and Charlotte Ronson. Belgian-born Joos moved to New York in 1997, where she assisted acclaimed writer and creative director Glenn O'Brien before taking on the role of Studio Manager to photographer Craig McDean. Following a six year tenure, Joos segued into casting at the encouragement of McDean who recognised her talent for matching the right girl to a particular designer's aesthetic. Joos' ability to identify with alarming accuracy the models with true star potential amongst a roomful of beautiful faces has publications such as V, Elle, and Style.com seeking out her tips on the newcomers who will shape the casting landscape for the season ahead.

Joos has been on IMA's list of most aspirational industry figures due to the many roles that she embodies as a casting director, stylist, and intrepid blogger, not to mention her status as an emerging style icon. Joos' playful elegance, unabashed love of colour, and illuminating presence have made her the darling of influential street style photographers particularly in the midst of Fashion Week. In 2010, Joos launched her blog "Tales of Endearment" which chronicles her whimsical anecdotes about "friends, love, style and life." Joos' growing influence as an arbiter of style may explain her natural progression into styling for fashion shows, shoots and special projects. One such project was Joos' recent joint collaboration with Diane Von Furstenberg on a photo shoot and accompanying video for Tales of Endearment featuring the designer's vintage and modern day pieces. Shot on location at Von Furstenberg's country estate Cloudwalk in Connecticut, Joos gained access for the first time ever to the iconic designer's prized vintage collection.

During the Spring/Summer 2014 show season, IMA was granted exclusive access to document the Natalie Joos Castings for Osklen, Karen Walker, and Charlotte Ronson. Upwards of 250 newcomers posed, walked, and waited in anticipation to be summoned before Joos and her casting team. Among the diverse group of beauties in attendance were IMG's latest crossover sensation Amanda Wellsh, Miu Miu campaign star Anne Verhallen, and red alert newcomers Kate Goodling, Natalia Siodmack, Josephine Van Delden, Samantha Archibald, Leomie Anderson, Maddison Brown, Anne Sofie List, Cristina Herrmann, and Annemijn Dijs. As the casting frenzy unfolded, IMA scrambled to keep up with Joos as she began the painstaking process of assembling the casting puzzles for Osklen, Karen Walker, and Charlotte Ronson. Witnessing Joos in action as she takes into consideration the individual physical characteristics, walk, presence, and style of each model is awe-inspiring not to mention fatigue-inducing. In the aftermath of the Spring/Summer 2014 collections, Joos brought IMA up to speed on her favourite faces of the Spring/Summer 2014 season, the qualities that will get a model noticed, and her take on the ongoing issue of diversity on fashion's runways.

Natalie Joos
Photographer - Aram Bedrossian
Source - talesofendearment.com


Inoubliable Model Army (IMA) - How did you initially become involved in casting?
Natalie Joos (NJ): I started working for Craig McDean in 1998. At first, I was only hired on a part-time basis as a Producer on a special project but I soon started handling all of his business and personal affairs and became his first Studio Manager. I managed a lot of the casting too and saw all of the girls for him. When I left in 2003 he told me I should do casting since I was good at it.

IMA: How has the role and influence of casting directors evolved during your tenure in the industry?
NJ: I don't think it has changed all that much. I think they can be influential but in the end it's a group effort (stylist, designer etc). There is a lot more competition though. It's a job that doesn't require any skill set. You just need taste, a good eye, and patience. So many people take a stab at it. I am actually taking a step back from casting because I'm transitioning into styling, and I have my website and all other creative consulting jobs to maintain.

IMA: This season you cast the show line-ups for Osklen, Karen Walker, and Charlotte Ronson. What aesthetic were you looking for in models for each of the three shows, and which key newcomers stood out amongst the 250+ faces that you saw throughout your castings?
NJ: There were a few new girls I loved from the get-go - Josephine Van Delden, Anja Chioric, Annemijn Dijs, Natalia Siodmak, and Kate Goodling. My favourite girls of the season in general are Sasha Luss - obsessed with her, as well as Sam Rollinson and Malaika Firth.
Karen Walker always looks for the quirky, fun girl. She always has an unexpected cast because it's always such an odd mix. She can make any girl look cute! Charlotte Ronson likes pretty girls with an approachable, instant gratification beauty. Osklen likes a strong walker and slightly more masculine girl. They have to be cool and edgy, so we usually go for someone older and not too skinny. Osklen liked a lot of Asian girls this season. I think we had four in the show and we could have cast even more!

Jing Wang @ Wilhelmina Models
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image is property of Inoubliable Model Army

Solveig Mørk Hansen @ IMG Models
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image is property of Inoubliable Model Army

Nadja Giramata @ Trump Models
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image is property of Inoubliable Model Army

Natalie Joos - Casting Director for Karen Walker
Image courtesy of Karen Walker Instagram


IMA: Diversity on fashion's runways was at the forefront of many casting director's minds for the Spring/Summer 2014 season. Is racial diversity a factor which you take into consideration during the casting process, and do you feel that perhaps the Spring/Summer 2014 multi-hued runways may be a passing fad?
NJ: For me it's never a passing fad. The world consists of so many colours and flavours, I feel it needs to be represented on the runway too. There are always great African American and Asian girls in town and this year was quite exciting. The Chinese market has opened a lot of possibilities for Asian girls and it's important that this huge market be represented. I don't see how we could ever omit ethnicity on the runways when customers are made up of so many nationalities and races. It doesn't make sense to have an all-white cast. In the end, it's about beautiful girls who wear the clothes well. And with such a great flow of all kinds of ethnicities, how can you not include them. I heard Philipp Plein had an all-black cast; I say why not? It shouldn't even be a question.

IMA: Each show season, hundreds of newcomers descend on the fashion capitals competing for key runway slots. How is a model most likely to leave a positive and more importantly, lasting impression at your castings?
NJ: This is a frequently asked question. What makes a good model? For me, it's posture, a good walk, and a positive attitude. You tell immediately when a girl is strong. She has a sense of pride and she's confident. I also think good style helps (for me at least). It shows personality and again, confidence.

IMA: A model's sense of style plays a pivotal role when presenting at castings. What style advice would you offer to models when preparing to front up for a casting?
NJ: I would say don't go mental but it helps to stand out a little. For the summer castings, wear a short dress or skirt, something light and fun. I love colour! And for the winter collections, tight pants or tights with a short dress. Never wear long flowy things. It covers up the body and we want to see it!

IMA: Among the current generation of top models and rising stars, which models do you feel have an impeccable and innate sense of style?
NJ: Hanne Gaby Odiele of course, number 1. She's so confident she can pull off a garbage bag! Also Aline Weber and Frida Gustavsson. Leomie Anderson dresses well too. She's not as well known but I noticed her outfit during the castings and commented, which made her very happy.

Samantha Archibald @ Major Models,
Alina Baikova @ Next Models, & Julier Bugge @ Supreme
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image is property of Inoubliable Model Army

Leomie Anderson @ Fusion Models
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image is property of Inoubliable Model Army

Steffi Soede @ NYMM
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image is property of Inoubliable Model Army

Fatima Siad @ IMG Models
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image is property of Inoubliable Model Army


IMA: You wear many hats as a casting director, stylist, and a blogger. What role do casting directors and stylists play in influencing modelling/casting trends?
NJ: I think we all love to go from one extreme to the other. We get bored. So when we've seen too many healthy, blonde Dutch girls, we will hop onto the next trend. Now we're seeing a bit of everything, but there is a trend towards a strong, mature, sophisticated beauty, as seen in girls like Joséphine Le Tutour and Manuela Frey.

IMA: Your blog "Tales of Endearment" is a chronicle of "Stories about love, friends, vintage, music, and life." What was the key impetus for you to start this labour of love in 2010?
NJ: I was bored at the time. The crisis had hit my business and I was stuck without work for a few months. I was constantly checking out vintage on Ebay and also wanted to write more so my mental motor started churning. I thought "So many people do blogs, why shouldn't I?" And I decided to make it about vintage and friends and cool girls. The Look of the Week portion only came about a year into it.

IMA: Diane Von Furstenberg recently held a soiree in honour of you and Tales of Endearment! Who are your personal style icons and did you ever imagine that one day you would be held in the same regard?
NJ: I personally admire the style and life of Grace Kelly. I wish to be the modern day version of Grace - that would be fantastic. She looked like a good girl but she was mischievous in some ways. I read her biography. Diane and I did the party together to celebrate the story I shot and wrote about her archives. I was the first person ever to access those archives. She told me later, "it was magic", and she wrote me the sweetest note. I am so grateful and honoured that she has come into my life like this. It was perfectly organic.

IMA: What makes you "Inoubliable" (Unforgettable)?
NJ: My crazy colours - outside and inside.

Natalie Joos
Image courtesy of www.thephotodiarist.typepad.com

Natalie Joos & Lys Inger @ Women Direct
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image is property of Inoubliable Model Army

Keilani Asmus @ Wilhelmina Models
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image is property of Inoubliable Model Army

Annemijn Dijs @ IMG Models
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image is property of Inoubliable Model Army

Marnie Harris @ NYMM
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image is property of Inoubliable Model Army

Vika Volkute @ IMG Models
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image is property of Inoubliable Model Army

Samantha Archibald @ Major Models
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image is property of Inoubliable Model Army

Amanda Wellsh @ IMG Models
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image is property of Inoubliable Model Army

Pieces of a Puzzle
Natalie Joos Casting
Photographer - Neill Seeto
Image is property of Inoubliable Model Army

Special thanks to Natalie Joos at Natalie Joos Casting. For more information on Natalie Joos and Tales of Endearment, please log onto www.nataliejoos.com and www.talesofendearment.com

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