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What is Beauty? Everyone is welcome at the Brussels Fashion Week model casting.

ARTICLE from "DEMORGEN" National Journal Belgium

- Katrien Swartenbroux 17 August 2020 -

The organization of Brussels Fashion Week will send on the runway along professional models also those who do not have to meet certain physical expectations. We visited their casting day - and did not get almost registered ourselves.

"I don't see your name on the list, at what time is your casting?" “Casting? No, I'm here to write an article. ”

Let me clarify for a moment. I have the looks of a stock photo, stubborn eczema adorns my cheekbones, and the only reason why I fit in a size 36 is because I'm 1,54m tall. There is no way in which I would ever be mistaken as an aspiring model. And yet this is exactly what happened when I signed up in the lobby of the Brussels concept store Balthasar for an interview with Emmalyne Rose, the creative director of Brussels Fashion Week, who co-manages the casting of models. A casting that, it became clear from the very first seconds, is not so traditional as we know.

Piercings and wrinkles allowed

After all, Brussels Fashion Week is proud to be the first European pioneer to send so-called INCFAB models over the catwalk next to standard models: “inclusive fashion art and beauty” models. This means that, in principle, any healthy woman between 18 and 50 years old can applly. The only requirement to begin with: you must be able to walk somewhat elegantly; a skill that women can also easily learn themselves with the help of YouTube, says Emmalyne Rose. For the rest there are no regulations. You do not have to have to be a specific size or height, and tattoos, piercings or wrinkles are also allowed.

“At the Danza Luna event for my own label, Emmalyne Rose Couture, I have been doing castings that way for years,” says the designer. “The fashion world is a sector that imposes so many restrictions upon itself, where you often have to stay within the lines. That restrains creativity. I get inspired through the woman in the street, so I let that woman wear my designs. I don't believe in the sacredness of "size zero" the clothes should fit the woman, not the other way around."

It is a philosophy that the Brussels Fashion Week organization also has noticed - and which therefore also asked the designer to become creative director and adviser for the Fashion Week. “I think it's only logical that Brussels Fashion Week is a representation of the city of Brussels,” says managing director Melani Barnes. “I am honestly amazed that it is so ground breaking that there is an alternative way of casting.”

Strong personality

When I enter the casting room it does not look like what I was used to see backstage in London or Paris. Of course there are also standard models available, the professionals with legs that reach to my shoulders and some cheekbones you could cut yourself on, but in particular I spot a beautiful cross-section of the best that a big city has to offer. Different skin tones, heights, ages and styles await obediently their turn to show off their walking skills on the short black runway. I see scars, wrinkles, tattoos, and sometimes even a small trip over.

And indeed: quite a few girls who are barely taller than me. "Let me put on my high heels", laughs Buse. "I would like to emphasize what a casting like this does for (young) women who are constantly confronted in social media and in advertisements with the idea that they are not good enough."

If height and weight does not play a role, what is it that convinces the designers? “Personality,” says almost everyone who takes notes. “I make clothes with a strong spirit, so my model must also have a strong personality to match,” I hear from the label Madame Byron. Emmalyne Rose's muse is Seka Dobric, the 53-year-old businesswoman with an incredible story and perseverance. How can you not be inspired by that?

Brussels Fashion Week takes place from 4 to 7 October. More info via


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