But Barbara is more than just a model filter. Weaved into the mosaic
of famous faces on her wall are some quirky looking boys and girls:
interesting kids who have this odd "not quite" image about
them that throws them just a little bit off.
There's that wiry looking dude
with a mohawk, a stunning face and an energy that screams "lead
singer in an East Village punk band ". Maybe that's because he
is a lead singer in a rising punk band that plays small east
"I met him one day while I was just hanging out with my friends,
listening to music," offers Barbara in between scanning the faxes
that pour in "and I thought he was very strong so I sent him to
a casting that Mario Testino was doing. So of course he comes
back all innocent going "Yeah I met some guy named Mario and he
said he was going to use me for everything."
Scanning Barbara's legendary Polaroid board, something interesting occurs
to me. There is something about these street faces, found skateboarding
in parks, chilling in record stores, rocking out in East Village dives
that make them more dynamic than some of the agency models in question.
They look at the camera with a pure and unguarded directness. Whatever
they're feeling is there in their faces. It is that quality that Barbara
marks as being crucial to the photographers she works with.
"I think sometimes the photographers just want to find a new face
that inspires them and differentiates their work from everybody else.
If every photographer is shooting that one hot model in the same hot
outfit as everybody else it brings a kind of sameness to the picture.
By bringing in someone who is unusual and real it keeps things exciting
And those photographers have included some the biggest names in the
fashion business including the likes of Terry Richardson (current
Gucci campaign ), Steven Klein (CK), David Sims
(Calvin Klein) and Carter Smith (Tommy Jeans).
Then there has been the huge commercial clients like Levi's, Rockport,
Fuji films, Airwalk, Bass Ale, MicroSoft, Aveda and Esprit who have
sought her expertise in bringing these fresh, unspoilt faces to their
In addition to finding new talent, as a casting director Barbara has
in many cases found herself ending up as an accidental scout, actually
placing some of these new faces. Benefiting from her killer eye and
even more killer connections have been models like Bart & Kevin/IMG
and Haylynn/Next, who found in Barbara their big breaks from
unsigned wonders to being major working models.
At the end of the day Barbara's job is not over because there is never
the sense in this business that the need for models has been completely
fulfilled. Fashion is a business of constant renewal, and new faces,
new styles, new looks are the lifeblood of the machine.
It's an issue Barbara has in perfect perspective. "You never know
where and when you're going to find that next great face that everybody
wants. In the supermarket. On a vacation. It's like you always have
to have your eyes open, ready and waiting. And when you see that face.
And it's that knowledge that makes Barbara Pfister a critical force
in the model machine.
So the next time you're hanging with your friends in the mall, or hanging
out after school, don't be shocked if a flashbulb goes "Pop",
that could very well be Barbara adding more fire to her ammunition.