Fashfest Model Casting

Whatever I Don't Mind(1)


Modelling is often perceived as easy; some think all you need is to be young, thin and pretty and that’s about it. But in reality the life of a model is not always as glamorous as Instagram may have you believe. It’s not all parties, red carpet appearances and getting paid $400k for 24 hours of work (aka Bella Hadid at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia), it’s hard. There are early starts, plenty of waiting around, being pushed and pulled and judged.

Last weekend over five hundred hopeful models attended the Fashfest model casting, a record for the Canberra fashion festival. Now in its fourth year, Fashfest is upping it’s game, increasing its number of shows and moving to a new time slot later in the year. With such a large turnout at this year’s model casting, team Leiden was keen to find out what made so many people interested in making a foray into the world of modelling.

When chatting with aspiring models on the day, we found that the majority of those in attendance had no previous experience modeling but were looking to use Fashfest as a platform to gain some, as well as have a little fun along the way of course. ‘I came because my brother’s girlfriend told me about it. I am really interested in fashion and keen to start modeling and thought this was a good opportunity’ said Sam Antony McGlone who came from Braidwood for the casting.

Ayis Ai agrees; ‘I have a passion for modeling. I like the feeling of going on the runway. I want to be a professional model and this is my first step.’ Alex Tru told us that she has modeled in high school but was interested in starting her portfolio back up; ‘I saw the Fashfest model casting advertised and thought I would see what it was all about.’


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A number of models were particularly keen to gain experience on the runway. ‘I have done a little modeling before, but never catwalk. I love fashion, I want to work in fashion so this [Fashfest] seems like a fun thing to do’ Georgia Waugh told us. Sarah Parker has previous editorial experience but has never participated in Fashfest before or done much runway work; ‘I have done a lot of photo shoots but there isn’t a lot of opportunity for runway here in Canberra.’

Even those models that had participated before were keen to continue to broaden their experience. ‘It’s such a great experience’ said Emily Tokic; ‘I have done Fashfest for two years now, so many opportunities come from it as well. I have met so many great people and designers who I have been able to work with in the show and also afterwards as well. Lym Garratt has also modeled in Fashfest twice previously; ‘I came back today because it’s so much fun [modeling], it feels good. I enjoy the rush of walking in front of so many people. I have done a lot of editorial and promotional work before but runway is hands down my favourite.’

It’s all well and good to believe you have got what it takes to be a successful model, but at the Fashfest model casting it was up to a panel of five judges to decide whether or not that was the case. This years panel was made up of the owners of Canberra’s top modelling agencies; Andrea Hutchinson, owner of HAUS Models and co-founder of Fashfest, Victoria Schnabel, owner of Victoria’s Model Management, Tina Nikolovski, Owner of Devojka Models, as well as Photographer Robert Coppa and Marie Claire Fashion Office Coordinator Hayley O’Neill.



From left: Victoria Schnabel, Robert Coppa, Andrea Hutchinson, Tina Nikolovski, and Hayley O’Neill.


‘We don’t have a specific brief today which is good; we don’t have body shape or height restrictions. We are looking for someone who has good body language, someone who is fun and enthusiastic and we are looking for diversity’ explains Andrea Hutchinson. It is worth noting that the panel are an independent industry panel, they aren’t looking to serve their own interests, rather they seek to narrow down the best and most versatile of those who have shown up to the casting. ‘We each look for and value something different which is good’ Hutchinson elaborates.

First time models need not worry because in all previous years of Fashfest, models with no previous experience have made the final selection. ‘We spend a lot of time with the models, getting them catwalk ready, training them. If we see potential in someone, whether it be versatility or a unique look, we will choose them knowing that we will work with them to get them ready’ Hutchinson explains. ‘It’s not just all about experience, we give everyone a fair chance.’

Amongst all the glitz and glamour of what is designed to be a premier fashion event, what this festival importantly does is create opportunity, not just for aspiring models, but for designers, hairstylists, makeup artists, event producers, photographers, marketers right through to the bloggers, fashion writers and illustrators who cover the final product.


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Successful models will be notified in June.

Words: Emma Batchelor

Interviews: Lilah Deguitre and Liz Wensing

Photography: Lilah Deguitre and Liz Wensing

Illustrations: Judy Kuo


Team Leiden

Sometimes it takes more than one Contributor to make magic.

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