Casting Director Brent Chua Highlights NYFW Closer, Luar

One of New York Fashion Week’s most anticipated shows, Luar closed out the bi-annual sarotiral event, with a highly-coveted slot previously reserved for head honchos like Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford. Fresh off a CFDA Accessories Designer of the Year win, New York-based Dominican-American designer Raul Lopez stepped up to the plate with a high octane rollout inside Brooklyn’s contemporary art space, the Farschou New York Gallery. Titled “Calle pero elegante” or “street but elegant,” Lopez unveiled a collection suited towards his strengths of phenomenal fur outerwear made in collaboration with Saga Fur in billowing, exaggerated silhouettes and emblazoned with cursive “L”, tech jackets, floor-length dresses with trendy hoods, and tailored workwear with an uncanny twist. The crowd had the bestselling Ana bag in multiples, and down the runway, bags were sparkly and embossed. Casted by casting directors Brent Chua and Jhendi Castillo, an all-star cast pushing the wide range of Latinx beauty included opener Hiandra Martinez, Rose Cordero, Lineisy Montero, Laura Reyes, Anyelina Rosa and Luar muse Ernesto Peña-Shaw. spoke to Chua about how he got his start collaborating with Luar since 2018, his favorite discovery, and being a champion for young Latinx creatives.

All images by Betty Sze | Intro by Irene Ojo-Felix

Brent Chua | All images Betty Sze

How did you start collaborating with Raul Lopez, were you in similar creative spaces, or was it a random connection?
I started collaborating with Raul in a rather random yet organic way. I was introduced to Raul by a really good friend, Jhendi Castillo, who I co-cast Luar with for several seasons now.

Melanie Perez | All images Betty Sze

Willy Chavarria and Luar are back to back during this show calendar season. What was the process of casting for this season, knowing Luar was closing the week on such a momentous note?
Indeed they were the same day, just a few hours apart and in two different boroughs at that! I went in it wanting to make sure that I provided the both them with equal fairness. Both are LatinX creatives yet with two distinct voices and I just wanted to make sure they were both heard loud and clear. I split my casting days equally between the both and since I co-casted LUAR with Jhendi I was able to be at both places at once perhaps not physically at the beginning but we were both on the same page and in constant communication.

How has the casting perspective evolved since you first started casting for the brand in 2018?
I think the casting perspective for the brand hasn’t changed much, perhaps it has elevated since 2018 as we were more street cast centric but Raul, perhaps because he’s from Brooklyn, has stayed true to himself and knows what he wants, I think for him it’s not about having the top model of the season for him it’s about the feeling and vibe the model gives, I’d say it’s a look that doesn’t make LUAR but it’s the other way around, you see a face and or a walk and you’re like they’ve got IT! And LUAR gives IT.

Cara Taylor | All images Betty Sze

How do you encompass the energy of cool downtown New York, and how do you relate that to Luar?
Luar, when it relates to other designers that come show here, is actually NYC. He’s a guy that was born and bred in Brooklyn, a guy that understands NYC, respects the city and carries that respect. I think Luar being someone that takes risks with designs, concepts and everything in between, encompasses what New York is – a melting pot of creative risk takers, innovators, tastemakers that come from all over and collaborate and create.

Luar has been a champion in creating a safe space for young Latinx creatives. What does it mean to you to showcase that environment?
Luar indeed has been a champion in creating a safe space for young LatinX creatives, I met him through my good friend Jhendi who is a fellow LatinX creative. Jhendi and I started in the industry around the same time and he always mentioned Raul and how Raul is mother for a lot of them, I didn’t know what that meant mother, but as I got to know them, it’s more so a term for someone that fosters and nurtures a community and Raul has been that for a lot of people. every time I see someone walking down the street with an Anna bag from the east village to Harlem, where I know reside or Brooklyn, where my studio is, I see not only Raul’s contribution to fashion but contribution to a societal growth as I see men, women and everyone walking with that bag with pride because it was made by someone who gets them and does it for them.

Georgia Palmer | All images Betty Sze

What do you look for at the start of a model’s career? What do you look for in a new face?
What’s at the core is most important. Everyone is beautiful. What you have inside is the power to shine and that applies to all areas of your life, not just modeling. I think that’s what I really notice most and try my best to support.

Xue Huizi | All images Betty Sze

Who is your favorite discovery?
Many of the streetcasted talents. They are very raw and unsuspecting. They don’t walk around as mannequins but rather individuals that happen to look like models. Ryu Aguilar, who I scouted in Tompkins Square Park, took me 3 hours to convince him to model. I sent him straight to Next Models the same day. Alexis Chaparro, is another one that i knew from the beginning that he was going to shine. As soon as he came to my studio with his mom I knew the guy had what it takes to get far. Some of my favorites i get to know their parents and relatives as well because for me, it’s very important to have a strong support of a family member. I also love the underdogs, the outcasts. The ones the industry isn’t rooting for or have ruled out. It’s just beautiful to see these individuals evolve and become successful in their careers and as an individual.

Parth Yadati | All images Betty Sze

What do you find inspiring? Whether it’s from the past or the present.
What I find inspiring are people with beautiful hearts and the people who know who they are. That energy is amplifying and drives us forward as people. Finding yourself is a process, and those brave enough to live in that of their true selves, is something to be widely celebrated, uplifted, and an incredible admirable gift to the world – something for us all to share in. It can start with one, and those who realize that, the trailblazers, are those who pave the way. The more we celebrate this pursuit of truth, in all of its forms, and create environments where we can all prosper – equitable, inclusive environments – the best off we are.

Alex Consani | All images Betty Sze

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