By  on November 8, 2010

Older, younger, veteran, newbie, supe or supersized—spring runways provided a diverse departure from most typical catwalk mannequins.

For instance, just when it seemed models couldn’t get much younger, Karl Lagerfeld cast young Hudson, the two-year-old son of model Brad Kroenig, to strike a pose at Chanel. Dad proudly escorted his boy down the runway, in matching attire. Lagerfeld hit the other end of the spectrum too, casting his early Eighties muse, 53-year-old Ines de la Fressange, who last year was voted the “most chic woman in Paris” by readers of Le Figaro. (She beat out French first lady and former model Carla Bruni.)

From the strength-in-numbers department, models walked in “power packs” at Louis Vuitton and Lanvin, while at John Galliano, they appeared in character as Twenties seductresses, casually stopping midstroll to flirt with the audience.

“It’s great because everyone’s inspired to look beyond the show package,” said casting director Ashley Brokaw, whose shows included Proenza Schouler and Balenciaga.

At Jean Paul Gaultier, larger-than-life performer Beth Ditto opened and closed the show, and plus-size models Crystal Renn and Marquita Pring also took a turn on his runway. At Giles in London, 71-year-old supermodel Veruschka closed the show. Japanese Vogue fashion director Anna Dello Russo appeared in Emanuel Ungaro carrying an accessorized stuffed lamb. At Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquière cast Miranda Kerr (who was five months pregnant at the time), seven nonmodels (plucked from the streets by the Balenciaga team), and mixed in veterans like Stella Tennant, Amber Valletta, Carolyn Murphy, and Gisele Bündchen.

Brokaw says it’s important to maintain a point of view with unconventional casting. “Prada always does a really good job,” she explained. “It’s very clear what the perspective is, but it is maybe different ages, different shapes and sizes. Girls you don’t normally see on the runway or you haven’t seen in a while.”

Arizona Muse, considered by many to be spring’s breakout girl, was a Prada exclusive in Milan. “I feel supported by them, both as a model and as a mother,” said Muse, who recently resumed her career after having a son. Modeling and motherhood haven’t always mixed, but now model moms pack the runways, including Tennant and Bündchen, Jourdan Dunn, Isabeli Fontana and Natalia Vodianova, who earned a pretty penny— $80,000 to $100,000—to walk Cavalli’s show (and turn up at the party).

Then there were the veteran/rookie pairings seen at Lanvin. Newcomer Melodie Monrose stormed down the runway for the closing look with a brigade of vets including Ajak Deng, Jourdan Dunn, Jeneil Williams and Ataui Deng. The finale was amplified—all the models made their curtain calls together. “When we did the finale [at Missoni] with our arms up and we saw the look of surprise on everyone in the audience,” recalled Monrose, “I think every model wanted to smile.” Rick Owens’ finale also used the mob mentality while Marc Jacobs sent several groups of models out simultaneously at Vuitton. Individually, they had star power; collectively, they were a galaxy.

The supes were out in force, even if not all were on the runways. Naomi Campbell celebrated her 25-year career with the help of Dolce & Gabbana at parties in all four fashion capitals. Claudia Schiffer was front-row-ready at Salvatore Ferragamo and Chanel, where Vanessa Paradis, Lou Doillon, Elisa Sednaoui and DJ/model Leigh Lezark also watched. It was Kate Moss’s appearance at Christian Dior, though, that sparked paparazzi pandemonium before the show, leaving one photographer with a bloodied forehead.

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