The Making of a Model

The DONT WALK committee takes us behind the scenes of this year’s model auditions.

A fashion show is nothing without its models. The veritable faces of the clothes, the brand and the campaign, this hand-picked group of individuals must channel the legacy that they have been chosen to represent, both on and off the runway.

This is especially true for the DONT WALK Charity Fashion Show. When auditions were held last weekend, the committee sought to select models who encapsulated DONT WALK not only in looks, but also in spirit. Creative Director Tiphaera Ziner Cohen emphasises the need for confidence in the models, and Choreographer Talia Tabbara references the classic “DONT WALK energy.” Self-assurance sets potential models apart during auditions, a surprisingly rare brand of poise that many people lack.

john barnes dont walk

The auditions took place in the Hotel du Vin ballroom, empty save for a single table. Outside of the room, applicants waited their turn, sat in the midst of DONT WALK relics. Branded stickers coated the ballroom doors, and a nearby table brimmed with gifts from the show’s sponsors (Ray-Ban, The Wax Bar, Forgans, Duncan & Todd Opticians). When their application forms had been completed and the queue in front of them dwindled, applicants could then enter the ballroom.

Tiph says: “We want to interact with the models and get to know them as people. At the end of the day, DONT WALK is quite serious when they’re on stage, but everything comes from a fun place. We try to communicate that from the get-go with auditions.”

To this end, the first question that models received upon entry was, “What’s your spirit animal?” Answers ranged from the always popular “lion” to the more obscure “squirrel” or “polar bear” or even “pig.” Regardless of what animal they selected, applicants had been given the chance to demonstrate their personality.

dont walk men

The walks themselves offered each applicant the opportunity to stand apart. While walk #1 was the traditional strut across the ballroom, walk #2 was done with a prop: a jacket on the first day of auditions, and a scarf on the second day. Applicants were given no further instruction but to incorporate the item into their walk. One boy folded his jacket over his arm like a towel, one girl tied the scarf around her waist like a belt. Every individual made the walk his or her own, the ultimate goal of the audition.

This year, 212 people auditioned for DONT WALK. That number was culled to 40 girls and 40 boys after a rigorous selection process, leading into callbacks on Sunday. A more personal version of the initial auditions, callbacks would determine the 5 new girls and 6 new boys to receive phone calls informing them of their success. The competition, as always, was fierce, as the number of potential models increases with every year of the show’s existence. We can eagerly await seeing this year’s lineup at the show in February. 

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