Founded in 1981, Britain’s leading model agency Premier Model Management has had some of the world’s best-known supermodels on its books. Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington are just some of the girls discovered by Premier, making the role of global scouting director no easy challenge. Annie Wilshaw, who takes the title, travels the world extensively, on the hunt for potential models. Here she shares the highs and lows of her job, offers her top travel tips and tells us how she survives fashion month.
Tell us a bit about what you do as a worldwide scouting director?
I travel the world, casting girls in various far-flung cities, as well as the obvious leading fashion ones, for Britain’s leading talent agency, Premier Model Management
I imagine fashion week is your busiest time of year, can you give us an idea about the preparation that goes into different fashion weeks and tell us what’s your favourite fashion week to cast for?
Fashion season is an intense and exciting time of year. I’m on the road for about five weeks, living out of a suitcase, and I normally work four weeks running before having a day off. We all like to grumble about how busy we are, but it’s thrilling and by the end the agents, models and clients who do the circuit are a family. There’s a lot of drama; there are lots of tears and the best of all, laughter; there are highs and lows of when show options come off; and there are surprises, such as when a girl who nobody believed in does well (that’s the best). I don’t drink any alcohol during this period; you have to be both physically and mentally strong as you’re running on empty
What are the biggest perks as a scouting director?
Finding a girl who comes from a non-privileged background, opening her world, changing her life and watching her blossom to her true potential. Modelling can truly open doors and give people incredible opportunities in far-flung and unique destinations
What’s the worst thing about the modelling industry?
Watching the little ones sob when they get rejected or when casting directors drop them after a season. To a young girl, this is very confusing as they haven’t had the experience to digest it yet. I still cry when they cry as you can see them growing and learning through such hard lessons. You have to be tough to be a model. We make very sure we look after the younger girls as they are people’s children and can be rather impressionable
What do you look for in a model?
I love the smart girls. I love the misfits. I like to shoot them and get to know their personality. The best is when you see poor imagery of a girl, but when you meet her in the flesh you are just blown away. Also, when you are on set watching them and it’s just magical when you know they’re going to do well
Do you find there is a trend in what brands want out of models? If so, what kind of models are popular at the moment?
There is the current wave of Instagram girls. Magazine editors and designers use them to sell product nowadays. For me, they have made the industry not as exciting but it brings us a new challenge, which I relish. We now work harder to convince our clients to trust in our aesthetic and our new girls
As you travel so much for work, what accessories do you always travel with?
I travel a lot, so jet lag is a constant issue. I’m low maintenance, so I make sure I always travel with a book, lots of adaptors (I’m always losing them) and a charger. I like a window seat above the wing and a soft bag to chuck on as hand luggage, and to use as a pillow. No fighting with other travellers for overhead locker space …
What beauty products do you always travel with?
I don’t wear make-up, so a good moisturiser and some mist spray to keep the skin hydrated
What’s your favourite city for business and favourite for leisure?
For business, it just has to be Paris. It’s the final show stop of the season and the designers who show there are incredible, truly the best of the best. The show venues alone are magical, let’s not even get started on the actual clothes.
For leisure, it’s hard to decide. Cape Town, Budapest and Marrakech all hold a special place in my heart. The best part of travelling for leisure is an impromptu visit to a friend’s city where they show you their personal discoveries. The usual sights are great, but nothing beats mingling with the locals and finding out what it is to be truly from that city.