These four teen models were scouted for fashion week at Harry Styles concerts
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When Lilli Cummings was approached by a modelling scout at a Harry Styles concert earlier this year, she thought it was a scam.
“She asked me if I had heard of IMG (I hadn’t) and then about my age, where I lived… in my own head this all added up to a scam,” she says.
Lillian Cummings in this year’s Michael Lo Sordo show.Credit: Getty Images
Currently in her final year of high school in Coffs Harbour, the 17-year-old explains that “the whole scouting procedure to someone who is not well acquainted with it can seem a little strange.”
Cummings is one of a number of newly minted models who were discovered during Harry Styles’ blockbuster Love on Tour visit to Australia in March this year. While this method of finding new talent may feel rather old school, IMG development director Kiki Minter says in-person scouting is something the agency is still actively involved in.
“During COVID and the rise of social media there’s obviously a huge presence of scouts online, but we’re very much involved in the traditional method.” Minter explains that concerts, Easter shows, or any crowded events, are places where scouts are actively searching for talent.
“Scouts are on the ground identifying and looking for potential of what they might see in an IMG model. Height isn’t everything, they’re looking for a unique and interesting look.”
Bonnie Cummings, who walked in the Yousef Akbar show, was scouted at a Harry Styles concert.
Thrishali Casa, 17, is studying a Bachelor of Business at Queensland University of Technology and works part-time at a local grocery store. While she has dreamt of being a model from a young age, being scouted at the concert was “unexpected”. Casa walked for Bondi Born and Joslin, where she says, “the adrenaline I felt was insane.”
“The atmosphere was daunting but empowering at the same time as everyone was welcoming and friendly,” she says.
“At the show the atmosphere was very energetic, getting hair and makeup done was such a great way to meet new people involved in getting fashion week up and running,” adds 16-year-old Bonnie Chisholm, who walked in Yousef Akbar.
Indeed, the frenzy and high-stakes energy of fashion week would feel daunting for anyone, let alone a 16 or 17-year-old new to the industry. But despite the fashion world’s cut-throat reputation, the young models found the week to be a welcoming experience.
Skye Burn, left, and Thrishali Casa at the Bondi Born show.Credit: Getty Images
Cummings, who walked a total of six shows – Alemais, Michael Lo Sordo, Bec & Bridge, Joslin, Blanca, Macgraw – says she was surprised by the amount of behind-the-scenes work that went into making sure models are comfortable.
“Times have definitely changed,” says Minter, dispelling any visions of Tyra Banks tearing down a terrified contestant in America’s Next Top Model. As the development director at IMG, Minter’s job is to prepare models for fashion week – both mentally and physically. Aside from the obligatory runway training where the models were taught to walk in heels, Minter also held group personal training and meditation sessions. “We made sure we were cultivating great sense of community,” she says, especially for those not from Sydney.
Skye Burn, 16, had a little more experience under her belt, having been signed to an agency when she was younger for commercial modelling.
Walking in the Bondi Born show was “chaotic in the best way possible and something I’d never experienced before.”
How did she prepare for fashion week? “Getting super psyched by watching a lot of Australian Fashion Week shows from 2022, but also taking care of my skin and hair so I’d be feeling my best when I take my first step on the runway.”
All four girls hope to continue to work in the industry, whether by modelling or in some other way.
“It is a dynamic and fascinating field that offers numerous opportunities for growth,” says Chisholm.
Burn plans to go to university after she graduates while continuing to model part-time.
Eventually, she hopes to “do an international fashion week in Paris or Milan and maybe even make the cover of a magazine, which would be an incredible achievement.”
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