Sunday, 29 March 2009


Select has a very unique place within modelling history. Founded over 30 years ago by sisters Clare and Chrissie Castagnetti and their friend Tandy Anderson, Select has established itself as the no.1 modelling agency in the UK.

The thing that sets it apart from other long-standing agencies is a special claim to fame. Select had the novel, and pioneering, idea of not just relying on finding new faces via applications and word-of-mouth. They took their search to the streets.
Scoping the streets for a new, fresh face that could be moulded and groomed into something special had never been done before. Scouting, as it came to be known, transformed the way the modelling industry operated.

This has now become such an integral part of the business, that even those who profess to know nothing about modelling know the term ‘scout’ and more importantly, what a scout does. This approach has not only paid dividends for Select, but for the modelling world in general: some of the most exciting finds of the last twenty years have been thanks to the eagle eyes of a scout: Kate Moss, Jourdan Dunn, Sophie Dahl and Jessica Stam were all discovered far beyond the walls of an agency.

This method has blown apart the pre-conceptions people have about the modelling world being a closed book. Scouting has provided an element of excitement and opportunity into an industry, which is by its very nature, elitist. Yes, agencies still want the best, but now the best models of the next five years might be found trawling the rails at Topshop.

Every agency, subsequent to Select’s pioneering approach, now has scouts working on their behalf. Select has proven the success of this method, with faces that were discovered through scouting now working on international campaigns. Their New Faces team also has an impressive success rate: Lily Donaldson, Agyness Deyn, Daisy Lowe and Paul Sculfor have all started their careers at Select.

Maintaining an internationally-renowned client base, Select continues to explore new possibilities with its Special Bookings division. Former model Alexa Chung and music wunderkind V V Brown being just two of their signings, shows that Select has a very clear vision of what is current. To ensure an agency’s survival in these difficult times, no skill is more essential.

Select’s legacy, if it can be summed up at this point in their history, is a democratisation of modelling. In the 1950’s, models were the daughters of aristocrats, and it showed. This all changed in the free-wheeling Sixties with the discovery of an ordinary working-class girl with an extraordinary look. Twiggy’s discovery re-shaped the future for models, but it wasn’t until Select came up with the idea of scouting that modelling became a truly open market.
They have created a democracy of opportunity for models: opportunity based on merit, rather than breeding. This thoroughly modern approach has revolutionised modelling and fashion. You just have to flick through the pages of the latest Vogue to spot the names of talents, who 50 years ago, would not have been allowed anywhere near a catwalk: Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Julien McDonald, Gareth Pugh and Henry Holland to name just a few.
Select’s willingness to open the doors of the fashion industry has resulted in a truly unique collection of talent (designers, photographers as well as models), which is now at the forefront of the British fashion industry, pushing it on to newer, bigger and better. Making modelling accessible has changed the aesthetic of designers, and in turn, fashion itself. Select has ensured not only its survival, but its evolution.


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