Arabella chats to International Casting Director, Sarah Murray
February is a month of love, lust and longing. And as the middle of the month rolls around, you’ll find us daydreaming at our desks and fantasizing about the objects of our desire.
We’d forgive you for thinking we were talking about Valentine’s day, but we’re not (although do click here if you’re looking for some last minute inspiration). No, we’re talking about our other great love in February…Fashion Weeks.
With the eyes of fashion cognoscenti around the world being drawn to London, we thought we’d get an insider’s perspective of the industry from casting director, Sarah Murray. After all, when we’re busy scrolling through the Vogue LFW updates at work, we’d like to be armed with enough information to know what goes on behind the runway curtain.
Now an internationally recognised casting director, as a former model herself, Sarah works with the likes of Alexander McQueen, Peter Pilotto, Julien Macdonald, Sonia Rykiel, Paul Smith and Maison Martin Margiela and experienced the runway from the front row as well as from backstage. Having been in the industry for nearly a decade, she’s built up an envious client portfolio and works regularly for top designers for runway shows, advertising campaigns and street casting.
Not just a force to be reckoned with when it comes to putting together models for shows, Sarah also still models for select clients today, so of course we had to put her in a key piece from the newly launched Arabella London collection which fitted her like a glove!
Inspiring, dynamic and driven, Sarah is the epitome of the Arabella London woman and chatted to us ahead of the Julien Macdonald show which she is busy working on for this season.
Arabella: Hi Sarah, you’ve clearly had a long and varied career in the fashion industry, as both a model and a casting director, what was your first brush with the fashion world?
Sarah Murray: I was just standing at bus stop in the Kings Road when a photographer spotted me from a car. As chance would have it, it turned out to be the iconic photographer Corinne Day!
AL: When did you decide to make the cross over into casting and how did you make the change?
SM: I decided to move from modelling to casting when I was 28. I had worked as a model with renowned casting director Russell Marsh for a few years, so I asked him for an assisting job and it went from there.
AL: What do you look for in a model when you’re casting for a show?
SM: No matter the show, I look for individuality, great, confident walkers, strong beauty and freshness.
AL: How do you know if a girl is going to be the next big thing? Is it possible to tell?
SM: There’s just a feeling that I get when a girl walks into the room. She’s always full of personality, which is key, and has strength about her – it’s all in the eye!
AL: Which is your favourite season, professionally?
AL: Do you have a favourite venue to work in and are there any that are still on your wish list?
SM: I always love doing shows in the Grand Palais in Paris with the stunning glass dome roof. Not only is it beautiful, it’s also steeped in history.
AL: A lot of preparation and planning goes into these shows. Could you describe a typical day, and the process in the lead-up to a big event or show?
SM: Casting for a show can easily take a full week, then a couple of days doing the fittings on the models. The days vary, but on the night before a show it’s not uncommon to find yourself in the studio from 9am until 4am the following morning…
There are always last minute changes, so staying calm throughout the whole process is an important part of the job.
AL: Obviously there are a lot of people involved in putting on a show during Fashion Weeks. As a casting director, you must have very close contact with all the creatives involved – including the hair and make up teams. Who are some of your favourite hair and make up artists?
SM: There are so many amazing ones out there, but I think Sam Bryant, Sam McKnight and Pat McGrath are incredible artists and always a joy to work with.
AL: What has been the highlight of your career to date?
SM: I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with many incredible people in the 20 years that I’ve been in the industry. Some of my favourite moments include walking for Alexander McQueen in his seminal “Dante” show, and casting for designers such as Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Comme des Garçons and Paul Smith to mention just a few.
AL: Which job or piece of work are you most proud of?
SM: One of my favourite jobs was casting Maison Martin Margiela menswear for a few seasons where I cast only street cast (non models). I had such freedom with the casting, which doesn’t happen with clients that often these days.
AL: If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?
SM: Vet/Animal rescue.
AL: Thanks so much for speaking to us Sarah, and giving us a little insight into what your job involves, alongside these sensational photos of you in our 9.2.9 Swimsuit …
Photo Credit: Mark Wood