Ashley Brokaw, Model Discoverer – “She can glance at a teenage girl and correctly guess her height, hip measurement and shoe size.”
By: Alice Gregory & Women’s Fashion
Nothing in the fashion modeling world surprises me anymore. Especially when it comes to this model or that model rising to the top. Some really fit the mold and then there are those like Twiggy in the sixties who broke out. With that said, the life of Ashley Brokaw is one of attention to detail.
I recently read this article from Women’s Fashion. The author, Alice Gregory talks about Ashley Brokaw and her unlikely talent for choosing the “right” girls for a modeling career. Let’s see what she has to say about this phenomenon in her popular column.
ASHLEY BROKAW is as familiar with skull shapes as a comparative zoologist, and knows the female gait as a jockey does the gallop of his racehorse. She can glance at a teenage girl and correctly guess her height, hip measurement and shoe size. She can divine what shadows a cheekbone will cast upon a jaw; how a hue of ash blond might contrast with patent leather; whether a girl’s look is sufficiently Edwardian.
If you flip through a magazine, stare up at a billboard or scroll through the thumbnail images of last season’s fashion shows, chances are high that you will be looking at the faces and figures of models Brokaw has discovered and groomed.
Her clients include Miuccia Prada, Nicolas Ghesquière and Jonathan Anderson. She has cast shows for Miu Miu, Balenciaga and Tommy Hilfiger; chosen models for print ads for Calvin Klein, Harry Winston, Chloé and Armani, along with campaigns for more mass brands like H&M, Gap and Zara. She collaborates on shoots with Steven Meisel and Patrick Demarchelier.
As the fashion industry’s leading casting director, Brokaw, 41, is arguably the person most singularly responsible for what — or, more accurately, who — we think is beautiful.
“She has a foresight. She has a stamp of approval,” says Anderson, creative director of Loewe and J. W. Anderson. “She finds faces, and she takes risks on faces. All the faces that we see today are passed through Ashley.” Proenza Schouler’s Lazaro Hernandez agrees. “If you want to be a working model,” he says, “get on Ashley’s radar.”
Her decisions affect not only the models’ careers but also our own sense of self: Each season she tweaks what we long to be by changing who she puts in front of us.
Today, that person is less conventional and arguably odder-looking than ever before. Brokaw favors the kind of model more memorable than she is pretty. What fashion editors have long euphemistically called jolie-laide, she calls “strong.”
The faces she chooses are sometimes merely a bit off-kilter but often undeniably weird and in some cases visibly asymmetrical. In print, they can seem outright radical, especially when compared to the burnished Brazilian goddesses and feline Russians of the recent past.
Such idiosyncratic stars include Jamie Bochert, with her moody, ghoulish aspect; the Shelley Duvallesque Sabrina Ioffreda; the pinched and elfin Hanne Gaby Odiele; Lily McMenamy and her Novocained jaw.
“You wouldn’t know most of the girls that are on the runway today were models,” Brokaw says. “They could all be sitting here and you probably wouldn’t recognize them, wouldn’t necessarily guess they were models at all.”
And yet even the new, seemingly more inclusive beauty standards might themselves be an expression of a certain strain of exclusivity.
The fetishism of unusual facial features could be read as a trickle-down effect of our contemporary notion of one-of-a-kind luxury, a resistance to the ubiquity of mass merchandising.
From a designer’s point of view, personifying a collection with a not obviously gorgeous model can imbue the clothes with an artisanal, avant-garde edge. As Brokaw herself concedes, “There’s a fine line between fashion and beauty being democratic and an anything-goes mentality. Fashion should be rarefied.”
Getting Discovered by Ashley Brokaw? Who Knows?
Ms. Brokaw has an uncanny way of finding new talent who will rise to the top. Could you be next? Well, I won’t speculate on that part of the puzzle since she looks at 300 to 400 prospective models in each of her sessions. After you learn to be a model and practice your craft, go where Ashley Brokaw is this month and see if she can pick you out of the crowd. 🙂
Want to Learn to Become a Model?
I hope this article about Ashley Brokaw was as fascinating to you as it was for me! I’ll be posting more modeling success stories like this one in the future. In the meantime sign in on my model tips e-course to learn modeling tips you can use. See you next trip! – Bob Pardue
Original article here.
Filed under: Modeling Tips