Fashion & Beauty / Collections Digest

Jess Hallett on Male Casting

Following the S/S15 menswear shows, AnOther speak to Casting Director extraordinaire Jess Hallett

Ermenegildo Zegna Couture S/S15
Ermenegildo Zegna Couture S/S15 Photography by Luca Grottoli

Jess Hallett is credited as one of the best Casting Directors in the business, and has worked with designers including Alexander McQueen, Acne, Missoni and Rag & Bone. She started her career at Storm Models in the late nineties, quickly becoming Head Booker before co-founding Darling Productions with best friend Sarah Murray, which she ran for 9 years before branching out independently. While at Storm, Hallett helped to create the face of the 90s Supermodel, nurturing Naomi Campbell, Susie Bick and a young Kate Moss. She travelled the world with Moss during her early years and was maid of honour at her wedding.

This season, Hallett worked on Alexander McQueen, Zegna and Marc by Marc Jacobs. Following on from the menswear shows, AnOther caught up with Hallett to discuss her intuitive casting eye.

Did you always know you wanted to work in casting?
I don't think I knew casting existed but my teenage bedroom wall was covered in faces ripped out of magazines. you couldn't see the wall, it was absolutely covered. So maybe subconsciously I was always interested.

Can you talk through the casting process for Alexander McQueen, Ermenegildo Zegna and Marc by Marc Jacobs?
The clothes are very tailored at Alexander McQueen, and so the body shape is vital. The face that we look for is different from season to season, but it is always a strong, interesting face. The casting at Marc by Marc Jacobs was about individuals. We were looking for guys with their own look. We didn't want to use the same guys that everyone else was using. At Ermenegildo Zegna we also needed character. I really enjoyed doing that casting, it was very new compared to last season. I think we only had two faces from the previous show, but somehow it was a continuation.
Let's just say casting is always different. Each designer wants something else and that's what makes it fun, the challenge. Everyone is different, personality is everything.

What trends have you noticed amongst male models this season?
Summer is always a funny season as a lot of the boys are doing exams or looking for scholarships. I'm not sure about trends, I'm not so good at that. I just know what I like and whether they could work in my set up.

Everyone is different, personality is everything.

What keeps you going during fashion week?
Nervous energy and anxiety.

Where is your favourite place to unwind?
I love London. Home is where the heart is.

Do you have a favourite male model at the moment?
Not really, most of them are great. in fact very sweet, and cultured.

Do you have any pet hates with models?
When they walk in and say they are in a hurry and have to leave. I know that, it's fashion week. We are all busy, don't be rude.

The last thing that made you laugh?
The ridiculousness of it all. It's only fashion.

Text by Mhairi Graham