The Day I Finally Understood What Street Casting is

Yes, it’s much more than hiring for a photo shoot, an advertising campaign or a fashion show.
A student explains the must-know aspects of this ritual with non-professional models.


By Giulia Piceni. 

Street casting has become a way for major brands to promote diversity and inclusivity on major runways during Fashion Week. But what exactly is street casting? Simply put, it means hiring non-professional models spotted by agencies for various events such as a photo shoot, an advertising campaign or a fashion show, like in the case of Istituto Marangoni Firenze. The Director of Education, Tutors, and other members of Istituto Marangoni Firenze searched for the perfect models for the End of the Year fashion show on May 16, occupying the school library to search for the best walk. It all starts with an unknown spark: one can define it as attitude, others may find it in a peculiar facial feature, but that’s the uniqueness that leads a model to the catwalk.


The day started with a contagious dynamism: the casting directors and the school members that partook in the selection process had to rearrange last-minute a few elements in the library, rush to the studio on the second floor to take a tripod and even collect a few snacks to keep the energy up until the evening. Everybody was pacing up and down with the common objective of finding the best individuals for the End of the Year fashion show.
The black bookcase that usually holds iconic volumes about Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood was cleared out of its paper treasures to serve as a backdrop for the polaroids that needed to be captured to remember more than 50 people coming.  
The models arrived at different times, giving the casting members extra time to progress with their work. It was intriguing to hear a continuous melody of clicking mixed with the background noise of runway-inspired music in the library.


The Istituto Marangoni casting crew was looking for a dark heroine, a techno princess with the captivating allure of a nocturnal creature. The aspiring models had to overcome numerous challenges to secure a spot at the End of the Year fashion show.
In such a situation, the biggest challenge would be anxiety, the fear of being examined and judged quickly: the competition between wannabe models is ruthless. Even a tiny mistake like slightly emphasising a hip sway or exaggerating an arm movement could lead to elimination. 

If you think finding Istituto Marangoni’s Next Top Model is a difficult task, you’ve certainly never met Tutor Miguel Garcia. With years of expertise in the field, during the breaks between scrutinising models, he entertained the participants in this fashion ritual with his memories of London, when he had to watch four people walking at once and identify the hidden gem to showcase among them. With his skills, he could even tell if a just-arrived model had the potential to make it to the final selection just by sensing it in the air.


Every model needed to undergo a series of procedures before being selected.
First, the entrance does its part: greeting everybody and being kind to the casting members is certainly an effective way to make a good impression and garner attention. Then, with the back facing the black bookcase, the model had to be ready to pose for memorable shots: a polaroid, a frontal, a lateral and even a three-quarter pic. Fun fact: some of the pictures were even taken by our school’s Director of Education, Francesca Giulia Tavanti, and an improvised but not less talented aspiring photographer, Jurgen Teller. 

Next came the time for measurements, which is an unavoidable aspect. If the garments created by the students are a couple of centimetres smaller than the model’s size, their name is removed from the list. No matter their attitude, their ability to walk or pose, all of which are highly regarded for an in-studio photo shoot: the catwalk has its own rules. If a model successfully passes through all these phases, they will likely be featured in the final show. 

The time for the walk had come. The music started playing, and Tutor Garcia gave some final instructions to the model. Every step was about to be scrutinised by the casting participants. To understand whether a candidate was in or out, one could just observe Tutor Garcia’s eyes looking towards Tutor Peloso before finally reaching Francesca Giulia Tavanti.


After spending nearly 10 hours at the library, everybody was exhausted and eager to head back home. The librarian’s desk was cluttered with pizza slices, biscuit crumbs and leftover snacks, with Polaroids and the model’s tags. 
The casting crew and members of Istituto Marangoni Firenze were exhausted but happy as they left the school after completing the selection process. But this is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more articles about the upcoming events that lead up to the event of the year!

Giulia Piceni is an Arts Curating Undergraduate student at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.

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