Beyond beauty: Models need more than just beauty, scouts agree

Modeling scouts from around the country told aspiring models in Wichita that if they want to hit the big time they'll need more than just beauty to take them there.

The scouts came to Wichita last week at the invitation of Models and Images to look at models ranging in age from 5 to 45, both male and female.

Just as trends in fashion change, so do expectations for the qualities models should have to succeed, several of the agents said.

"Remember when we had that weird period of the androgynous look?" said Erin Scimeca of New York Models. "The trend now is going back to beautiful. But she has to be not only beautiful, but also interesting."

Blondes with "great eyes" are popular right now, Scimeca said, and female models need to be at least 5 feet 10 inches tall, with great legs and a good body.

"But she must also have personality and intelligence — all of that rolled into one," she said.

Tony Perkins of Vision LA said he found those attributes last year in Wichitan Lindsey Wixson.

Lindsey, 15, won a model search at Models and Images a couple of years ago. She eventually signed with Vision LA and has seen her career soar in the past four months. She recently opened a Prada runway show in Paris and closed the Mui Mui show.

"The first time I saw her I got it immediately," Perkins said. "She was different and had true international appeal."

Lindsey's first time in New York was for a photo shoot with world-renowned photographer Steven Meisel.

"The studio was big, so big I felt like a little mouse, then I thought, 'OK, I can do this and I'm going to soak it all in,''' she said.

Perkins, who was with Lindsey in New York, said she succeeded because she has more than physical beauty.

"The first time I sat down with her, she was one of the few girls who interviewed me," he said. "She asked intelligent questions. And her look transcends every market. But that intelligence and her energy make a big difference."

Alyssa Dilts of Elite Chicago also was in Wichita for the model search. She said that the best models don't always need great makeup or hairstyles.

"For someone to be special she has to have confidence, poise and she has to look like she's having fun," Dilt said.

"I would rather take a look at a girl wearing jeans, a T-shirt and Converse tennis shoes, and no makeup, without her hair fixed. You just know a girl who would be a great model no matter what they have on."

Carlotta Sironi of VNY Model Management has worked in Milan and is now in New York. She's been to Kansas several times looking for models.

"Kansas girls have a wonderful freshness, and a clean, healthy look," Sironi said. "I look for girls who are beautiful, yes, but she has to have class, style, personality and lots of positive energy."

And not all models need to be stick-thin. Fuji Ruiz of Wilhelmina Model Management in New York said he is sensing excitement in the plus-size category.

"In Milan one designer, Elena Miro, had a plus-size show. That was a huge milestone and there were no European girls there to model those clothes, they were Americans," Ruiz said.

He's grown tired of stone-faced models walking the runway "selling the cool," he said.

"Sonia Rykiel had her models dancing and smiling. It's about time. Fashion is supposed to be fun!" Ruiz said.