From high fashion to the-boy-next-door type, model manager Luis Basteri knows The Look
Here’s a fact that’s difficult to wrap your mind around. When you learn that Luis Basteri, founder of the year-old Dallas modeling agency Amores Management, works in fashion, you assume he started his career walking the runway himself: Handsome, young and fit, he seems extruded from the pages of a high-end catalogue.
And you’d be wrong.
“Never,” he answers plainly when asked if he ever did any modeling himself. “I started on the production side of film and video.” Model management came later.
It must be a question he’s used to addressing. Many times when you see a good-looking man or woman with a fashion sense, you consider asking them, “Have you considered modeling?” But in fact, it’s Basteri who is the one asking that question — not vice versa. And he can make it happen.
He will make it happen on Saturday, when Amores hosts a Model Search Contest at Mockingbird Station.
The open cattle call for Dallas’ version of the “Next Top Model” is open to anyone — no appointment necessary, just stop by, fill out an application, get your picture taken and answer a few questions. One lucky cuss will be the winner, with a trip to New York and an opportunity to book an actual modeling gig.
Although Basteri’s company is fairly new, he’s an old hand at spotting — and wrangling — talent. After stints working at The Studios at Las Colinas and The Clutts Agency, Basteri has a sense for The Look: what model can book a job, from haute couture runways to stylish billboards. And the process is more complex than you might think.
“There’s a Dallas cookie-cutter [idea] for what a model is — the girl (or boy) next door,” he says over a chicken sandwich at the Meddlesome Moth. (Yes, he really does eat carbs.) Basteri says North Texas has a lot more to offer. But it’s not all about appearances when it comes to getting work.
True, many designers want “fit models:” Men and women of certain dimensions (men, 5-foot-11 to 6-foot-2, and slim-hipped; women, 5’8 to 5’11) but there’s more to it than that. Think you have the look that’s hot right now? Don’t downplay the importance of giving a good interview. Basteri asserts that — more often than not — that’s the deciding factor.
“A lot of people think it’s about the look, and that’s it, but personality plays a huge factor in booking jobs for clients,” he says. “I had two clients who were virtually identical — same look, same size, same type. One booked nearly every job he went up for and one got nothing. It was all about personality.”
Relatedly, just because you don’t fit squarely into a sample size, don’t think that means there’s not a place for you in modeling. Indeed, what’s “in” changes constantly, and it’s the job of someone like Basteri to match a model with a client.
“It’s important to know your brands when you are scouting,” says Basteri, who has worked with retail clients like Kohl’s and Target as well as designers.
His model search contest “is a true open cattle call — we’re looking for high fashion, but in Dallas we can always use dad- and mom-types. And beards and tattoos are really ‘in’ for the past two seasons,” says Basteri.
He’s also just developed a special subdivision of Amores Management that books tastemakers in the fashion/beauty/luxury lifestyle market. It’s all about presenting a brand, he says.
And branding sometimes means presenting a face that’s not exactly accurate. Although Basteri himself is an out gay man, he says one of the biggest misconceptions about the modeling business is that all the male models are gay as well. That’s simply not the case.
“Most of the male models I work with are very straight,” he says, “… they just look a little gay.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 10, 2014.