Push for diversity at this year's casting for Fashion Week

Models wait before they walk.
LAWRENCE SMITH

Models wait before they walk.

Eight hundred models were milling at Auckland's Aotea Centre on Saturday morning, biting their nails in anticipation of being cast for Fashion Week later this month.

Most stalked down the catwalk in black, long-limbed and lithe.

But there was flash of colour in the form of first-time model Jude Alvos, from Australia. The 65-year-old former swimwear designer said she's "a lady of leisure of these days" and thought it would be fun to cross the ditch and give modelling a shot.

Top model Danielle Hayes and plus-sized Jemma Grobbelaar catch up.
LAWRENCE SMITH

Top model Danielle Hayes and plus-sized Jemma Grobbelaar catch up.

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"I was curious to check out the other side of the industry, having been the one choosing models for years," she said. "I was a little nervous this morning, but must say I feel pretty good for my age."

65-year-old first time model model Jude Alvos, from Australia.
LAWRENCE SMITH

65-year-old first time model model Jude Alvos, from Australia.

Alvos was represented by Silver Fox Management, an agency for models of 30. 

17-year-old Baradine College student Bernie Van den Anker also shunned the black clothes, bare arms look. She wore a loose, long sleeved sweatshirt and high waisted blue jeans.

"I feel that if I'm a good enough model, it doesn't matter what I wear," she said. "This year I want to show 'me'".

Models walk to strut their stuff at the casting of New Zealand's Fashion Week.
LAWRENCE SMITH

Models walk to strut their stuff at the casting of New Zealand's Fashion Week.

This was Van den Anker's third year modelling and she had already been the face of Australian Fashion Week.

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"I still get the nerve rattling jitters," she said.

Director of 62 Models and Talent Andrea Plowright said agencies were moving away from the tall, skinny stereotypes and encouraged models "to show personality".

17-year-old model Bernie Van Den Anker.
LAWRENCE SMITH

17-year-old model Bernie Van Den Anker.

She partially credits US President Donal Trump for the shift in aesthetic.

"Since Trump came in and world's made this crazy right wing shift, we've been getting more rebellious," she said. "Designers only know what they're exposed to, so we're working hard to scout a wider variety of talent."

Another change in the industry was the importance of a model's social media following, Plowright said: "In the US models have to state how many followers on Instagram you have, and it's starting to get like that here."

Casting for this year's fashion week.
LAWRENCE SMITH

Casting for this year's fashion week.

She said that from a client's perspective, a large following allowed designers worn by the model to reach more people.

Plus-sized model Jemma Grobbelaar, 27, said this year's casting was "refreshingly diverse in terms of talent". Grobbelaar had been modelling since her kite-surfing career ended at age 19 due to a knee injury.

"Let's just hope they — the bigger girls, the older, the different ethnicities — actually get picked," she said.

Models line up before parading in front of the designers.
LAWRENCE SMITH

Models line up before parading in front of the designers.

Model Danielle Hayes shows how it's done.
LAWRENCE SMITH

Model Danielle Hayes shows how it's done.

 - Stuff

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