Hello, my name is Alyssa and I am a model fanatic. I'm that girl at a fashion show who gets a silly grin on her face as soon as one of her favorite ladies hits the runway, and freaks out every season when Daria Werbowy scores yet another big-name ad campaign. This fixation likely started during my time as an intern in the early days of Fashionista, when we would write haikus dedicated to models like Erin Wasson and Lara Stone after they starred in a particularly awesome editorial or popped up on a French Vogue cover, and when knowing each girl on the Models.com Top 50 roster by name was part of the job description. While our website has evolved since then, our belief that casting the right women can really make (or break) a fashion spread or show has remained.
Among the fall 2015 shows, a handful of designers really blew us away with their casting choices. Whether it was enlisting top models from the '90s who have been absent from Fashion Month for some time, or a highly diverse lineup of relative unknowns, the below labels proved that sometimes, models not only enhance the show, but they can also take it to the next level when it comes to memorability.
Key faces: Andreja Pejic, Aymeline Valade, Jessica Stam, Jacquetta Wheeler, Erin O'Connor, Kendall Jenner
Why we loved it: Giles Deacon put on a spooky, dramatic show in London that featured some great Victorian-gothic fashion and an even greater lineup of models, cast by Anita Bitton of The Establishment. Not only did it include Andreja Pejic's first fashion week appearance since her sexual reassignment surgery, but blue-chip ladies like Aymeline Valade, Jessica Stam and Lily Donaldson — along with industry greats like Erin O'Connor and Jacquetta Wheeler — also twirled and posed their way down the runway.
Key faces: Eva Herzigova, Anja Rubik, Natasha Poly, Hilary Rhoda, Izabel Goulart, Lily Donaldson
Why we loved it: It was all but confirmed that fall 2015 marked Peter Dundas's last collection for the Italian house, and if the rumors left us unconvinced, the models who showed their support by walking in the show served as even further evidence. Cast by Piergiorgio Del Moro, superstars like Eva Herzigova, Izabel Goulart and Joan Smalls all made appearances on the runway, as did Natasha Poly and Anja Rubik, both of whom have especially personal ties to Dundas: He designed both of their wedding dresses in 2011.
Key faces: Frankie Rayder, Kirsty Hume, Christina Kruse, Tasha Tilberg, Caroline Trentini, Hilary Rhoda
Why we loved it: The Prabal Gurung woman is strong, confident and often challenges the standards of conventional beauty. With this in mind, the designer and casting director Piergiorgio Del Moro chose top models from the past two decades — Kirsty Hume, Christina Kruse, Frankie Rayder and Tasha Tilberg, specifically — who are in their 30s and 40s, proving that you can have children and full careers and still look unreal in a silk slip dress.
Key faces: Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Constance Jablonski, Jourdan Dunn, Magdalena Frackowiak, Kati Nescher
Why we loved it: The Olivier Rousteing/Victoria's Secret model lovefest first became apparent when the designer moonlighted as a guest correspondent backstage at the lingerie giant's annual fashion show in the fall. He also cast Adriana Lima and Joan Smalls in Balmain's spring 2015 ad campaign. (Plus, no one looks quite as good in a Balmain minidress as a supermodel known for looking great in lingerie.) The French label's runway was a who's who of the industry's top bombshells — and one of the more diverse lineups of the season — making for one hell of a smoke show.
Key faces: Lottie Moss, Josephine Le Tutour (with brother Jules Le Tutour), Ophelie Guillermand (with brother Corentin Guillermand), Ella Richards, Georgia May Jagger, Elizabeth Jagger
Why we loved it: Who doesn't love a family affair? Besides offering Kate Moss's younger half-sister, Lottie, the chance to make her runway debut, the Sonia Rykiel team cast top models Josephine Le Tutour and Ophelie Guillermand alongside their (equally attractive) brothers. The Jagger sisters — who are also the label's faces for spring 2015 — shared the spotlight, as well. A bit gimmicky, yes, but it made for a sweet, memorable lineup.
Key faces: Daphne Groeneveld, Daria Strokous, Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Lindsey Wixson
Why we loved it: There is only one man who could literally hold a fashion week of his own in Los Angeles (to correspond with the Academy Awards) and get the industry's biggest names to actually attend, despite it coinciding with London Fashion Week — and that man is Tom Ford. Those editors and buyers were in for a casting treat: his show marked the first time that sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid shared the runway. Aw!
Key faces: Cara Delevingne, Sasha Pivovarova, Kendall Jenner, Charlotte Free, Joan Smalls, Cat McNeil, Caroline Brasch Nielsen
Why we loved it: Karl Lagerfeld's girls are loyal for life, it seems, which is why models like Cara Delevingne, Sasha Pivovarova and Cat McNeil chose the Chanel show to make their lone Fashion Month runway appearances.
Key faces: Freja Beha Erichsen, Liya Kebede, Fernanda Hin Lin Ly
Why we loved it: Honestly, this one would rank for the Freja appearance alone, but Nicolas Ghesquière has a real knack for finding and featuring under-the-radar (yet seriously cool) faces who eventually become his muses. Keep an eye out for newcomer Fernanda Hin Lin Ly — who stole the show with her bubble gum pink hair — since we have a feeling her star is about to rapidly ascend.
Dolce & Gabbana
Key faces: Bianca Balti, Ashleigh Good (with her daughter, Emily), Gigi Hadid, Karlie Kloss, Anna Ewers, Blanca Padilla
Why we loved it: A beaming Bianca Balti walking while 6 months pregnant was nearly enough to make the Internet explode, but when you add in models coming down the runway with their babies (the show's theme was mothers) in tow, and Victoria's Secret-level stunners like Yumi Lambert, Blanca Padilla and Taylor Hill, you truly get a show to remember.
Key faces: Caroline de Maigret, Karmen Pedaru, Liu Wen, Tilda Lindstam, Edie Campbell, Saskia de Brauw
Why we loved it: Not only did casting director John Pfeiffer (the man behind the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show lineups) round up some of the coolest girls in the game for H&M's Paris show, but the models were also smiling the entire time! Now that's a rarity.
Kanye West for Adidas
Key faces: Kylie Jenner, Luka Sabbat
Why we loved it: Apart from his sister-in-law Kylie Jenner, West's presentation for Adidas Originals consisted of unknown models of all shapes and sizes who were cast off the street in an open call. We applaud him and his team for featuring such a diverse group, and we wish more designers would take his lead.
Key faces: Jamie Bochert, Erin O'Connor, Anna Cleveland, Molly Bair, Vlada Roslyakova, Sarah Abney
Why we loved it: The haunting Marc Jacobs show had a very distinctive vibe this season (read: scary and slightly unsettling), so we're thinking it was tough to cast a lineup of models who would successfully convey it. But unsurprisingly, Jacobs pulled it off with a combination of a severe beauty look and some very distinctive-looking women, like Anna Cleveland, Molly Bair and newcomer Sarah Abney, who closed the show.
Key Faces: Aamito Stacie Lagum, Lineisy Montero, Isabella Emmack, Ajak Deng
Why we loved it: Alexander Wang and Anita Bitton are a dream team (together, they discovered Anna Ewers), and the Balenciaga lineup this season was not only regal, but we're fairly confident in saying that was the most diverse and interesting of the entire season. Bravo.
Key Faces: Willow Hand, Ala Sekula, Lineisy Montero, Molly Bair, Aya Jones
Why we loved it: Miuccia Prada is a star maker — models who debut as exclusives on her runway often then rise to superstardom at an alarming rate (see: Lindsey Wixson, Amanda Murphy and the now-legendary Sasha Pivovarova). For the designer's super-sweet fall 2015 show (cast by Ashley Brokaw), all the models had an youthful, almost princess-like quality to them, especially newbie exclusives Willow Hand and Ala Sekula, who opened. Lineisy Montero also made her debut on the Prada runway, and her natural hair and otherwise striking beauty had all of the editors talking.