When it comes to finding the fresh new faces of the season, you can always count on the Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wangs of the New York Fashion Week. But there's one designer who seems to have a knack for tapping girls just before they hit it out of the ballpark, and it's not the household name you might expect. Sherri Hill is a Texas-based fashion designer who happens to be New York Fashion Week's resident queen of pageant gowns and prom dresses. And, in her a six years of showing here she has quietly helped launch the runway careers of now mega-models like Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Grace Elizabeth and Delilah Belle Hamlin. It is Hill's showroom, after all, that acts as a centerpiece for a 2011 episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, where Kim Kardashian and Jenner take Manhattan to determine if Jenner's modeling dreams are worth pursuing (turns out, they were). Jenner, who made her first appearance this week at Tom Ford on Wednesday night, would go on to walk in Hill's debut show at New York Fashion Week, which also marked her own runway debut. Two years later, she walked the runway again, this time alongside little sister Kylie, a fashion week ubiquitor in her own right these days. Ahead of her Spring 2018 show, which Hill describes as "fun, fresh, and feminine," the designer talks about casting some very famous faces, what she looks for in a model, and the importance of a pretty front row.
How big of a part does casting play into your shows?
Casting is the key. You need girls who exude confidence and can feel the clothes. You can tell by the way she moves if she loves it or doesn’t love it, and that is very importing.
What makes a girl stand out to you when she walks into the casting?
There is that confidence, and she makes you feel like she wants to be there. We’re not interested in girls that look bored or miserable.
You’ve cast all of these girls who have gone on to be major models, including Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, and Grace Elizabeth. When they walk in, can you tell that they are going to be stars?
Yes, to a certain extent, but then there are other girls that also are powerful. I think a lot of the success for the girls that you mentioned is that they are not just pretty, but they are bright and they have a work ethic. That says a lot about them. I doubt that any of them are ever late for a casting or show. They have their act together.
How did you cast both Kendall and Kylie in your 2013 show?
It was kind of by accident. My daughter was in L.A. and somehow she met Kim [Kardashian] or something—I don’t really know, to tell you the truth, but we ended up hiring Kendall for a shoot and Kylie came along for fun. It was Kendall’s first shoot ever and she was nervous, but they were delightful. Just such nice girls.
Do you have any memories from the first time you worked with them?
Our first show was actually at Trump Tower in the foyer of the building, which seems so strange to me now. We didn’t have real dressing rooms or real anything, so it was not necessarily a typical venue, but the girls handled it like troopers. I appreciate that, especially looking back at it now.
And most recently, you've cast Delilah Belle Hamlin, whose career has really taken off.
Oh, she’s great. And you can tell—now that we have seen a few of these girls that have gone on and gotten bigger and bigger, you can tell that Delilah is going to be successful. She’s so easy to work with, very personable, and very professional, but still fun. Those are the people that you want to help and want to work with.
What are other indicators that a girl will be big? Is there anyone you have your eye on right now?
We are still in the early stages of casting, but there are a few girls that we have our eye on. There’s so much room out there now with social media and the opportunities out there, so I think there are a lot of girls that will be very successful.
Do you look at a model’s social footprint when casting?
Once in awhile, but it is not our main focus for casting. We really just look for the girl that fits the look.
Your front row is also often filled with up-and-comers like Bella Thorne. How big of a factor is that into your show planning?
I think it is just fun. There is really not a specific purpose or thought to it. Of course you like to have a pretty front row.
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