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Fashion Week: Talking models with James Scully

James Scully

James Scully Credit: James Scully

For those who were wondering who chooses the hottest and most relevant faces in fashion, it’s James Scully.

From the moment a model walks into his office, Scully knows whether they will be the next big star. And star quality for him is about something special: a swagger, a mole, wide set eyes, charm or even a quirky look. Designers are looking for that face that will inspire them and translate their clothes in a way words cannot describe. So Scully isn’t just picking a girl/guy who can walk, he’s creating an image that could be iconic. Pressure? A lot.

You are known for your intense pep talks. What do you tell the models before they go on the runway?
I want the models to realize why they are chosen for that specific show. For me, that show is all they should be thinking about. It’s like an actor, these models are playing a role. I want them to act the role the best way they can. When I don’t give the talks, the models always complain. They love it.

What does it take to be James Scully?
Have nerves of steel, be unflappable and passionate, for sure.

What do you do?
I am a casting director for runway show production. In the U.S., I work with Carolina Herrera, Jason Wu, Derek Lam and J. Crew. In Europe I work with LANVIN, Stella McCartney and Tom Ford. I worked on the first Victoria’s Secret shows.

What do you look for in a model?
I look for confidence and for you to walk in the room and catch my eye. I look for the universal model who can walk all the shows, and for the one model who may be the face of one designer. I seek out traditional and untraditional beauty.

What’s your favorite era?
I wish the ’90s Supermodel era would come back. I miss the theatrical aspect of the ’90s. It’s become too homogeneous now. I miss the beauty, walk and the performance of the ’90s.

How did you get to New York?
I wanted to be an actor, and I got redirected and went to the Laboratory of Student Merchandising. I then became the bookings director at Harper's Bazaar. ... But show production is what I love.

What’s your favorite New York restaurant?
ABC Kitchen ... I am a vegetarian so I also love Blossom and Candle Cafe. And I live at the Juice Press on the Upper West Side.

What designers do you wear?
Tom Ford, J. Crew, Junya Wantanabe.


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