Casting director Douglas Perrett meets a lot of models. All of them, in fact. Chances are strong that any model who made it in the past decade passed through his office early in her career—and now, Perrett has edited ten years of go-see Polaroids into a slim volume of ‘before they were famous’ images.
In Wild Things, Perrett shares unretouched, make-up free images of Abbey Lee Kershaw, Chanel Iman, Lindsey Wixson and Joan Smalls (and Kerr, Huntington-Whiteley and Rocha) before they achieved runway stardom. It’s pretty much the most attractive yearbook ever assembled. So what does he look for in new models?
‘I’m all about character,’ Perrett says. ‘I like a model with a story.’
Sometimes, Perrett meets newbie models he’s certain will go on to greater things. ‘Erin Heatherton lacked personality and was on the skinny side. [But] she was a trooper,’ Perrett said. ‘Now she makes millions modelling for Victoria’s Secret and has been vacationing with Leonardo DiCaprio.’
On other occasions, he admits that his instincts aren’t as spot-on. He was sure Lindsey Wixson, then unsigned in New York, wouldn’t have a major career when her local agency sent over her Polaroids. ‘Shortly later she was logging time with Meisel and placed with a top New York agency.’
The casual snaps of first-name-basis models in the book are winsome and anachronistic, but the models’ ambition shines through. These days, Perrett sees the same drive and promise he discerned in earlier success stories in Marte Mei Van Haaster, Marie Piovesan, Katryn Kruger and Kati Nescher. But things are different since the Polaroid’s demise.
‘Now you need someone to upload and label all the digital files, someone to print all the photos, and of course document the whole process at the same time,’ he said. ‘Versus just taking a Polaroid and writing the model’s name. [It’s] more time consuming.’
Click through the gallery above to see photographs from the book.
Abbey Lee Kershaw