The Secret Language of NYFW Casting

For Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta, their cast has become part of their identity as a brand. “Some of our friends have been in almost every one of our shows, some in more than half,” they explain, “It’s important for us to work with the people we’ve always worked with.” Before Paloma Elsesser was simply known as Paloma, she was a mainstay in Eckhaus Latta’s lineup, along with the musician Okay Kaya, the poet Coco Gordon Moore (daughter of artist and musician Kim Gordon), and the artist Maia Ruth Lee — who famously walked the runway when she was eight months pregnant for their spring 2018 show. Fellow designers like Susan Cianciolo and even Zadeh herself, have often taken a turn down their runways. “We look more for an attitude and an energy than we look for a ‘look,’” Latta and Eckhaus continue. “It’s not about a bone structure or a haircut, but more about the way in which the model embodies clothes in general. Because of this, we end up working with a lot of like-minded people who often are already linked to one another in a communal sense.”

An unexpected side-effect of casting people from the designers’ own communities is the way it diversifies the runway. James Daniel Wood, a model agent in New York, sees this as a big factor in the changing landscape of the industry. “If you look back at shows 10 years ago, it wasn’t done,” he shares via email. “Now it’s much more organic and reflects on the identity of the brand, and [is] a huge part of the conversation for them. I think we’ll continue to see [this] evolving.”

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