Boasting a long-term collaboration with high profile designers such as Nina Ricci , Jason Wu , Stella McCartney and Carolina Herrera , James Scully is seen as one of the most prominent casting directors within the fashion industry. An advocate of model reform laws in the #MeToo era, Scully is an active participant of the CFDA Health Initiative and a keen supporter of the child model law passed in New York through the Model Alliance group. He has also been an outspoken critic of the dire lack of diversity seen on the runways.
Born in America, Scully moved to New York to attend college in the early 1980’s and through a chance job listing on a college notice board, became a dress assistant for Karl Lagerfeld ’s first haute couture presentation at Bergdorf Goodman. Following his graduation in 1985, Scully began working as a merchandising director for Charivari, an upscale fashion boutique chain that was one of the first to sell Giorgio Armani and Yohji Yamamoto , where he was first introduced to Kevin Krier.
Joining PR agent Kevin Krier in 1993 to work on show production, Scully cast his first solo show for American designer Todd Oldham before landing his big break casting for Tom Ford during the designers tenure at Gucci. In 1999 Scully began working as a bookings editor at US Harper’s Bazaar, before returning to casting full time a few years after at the behest of Tom Ford . Freelancing for PR firms such as KCD and Bureau Betak, Scully quickly became renowned for his strong eye and struck up long term collaborations with clients such as Stella McCartney and Derek Lam. He is notably credited with his kack for discovering untapped talent, namely the likes of Julia Stegner, Georgina Grenvile and Liya Kebede , the latter of which had tickled the fancy of Tom Ford.
Around three decades in the industry later, Scully rose up to the prominent issue of diversity and unethical practices in the modelling industry. Speaking at the 2016 BoF Voices Panel, he recounted the stories of discriminated, mistreated models. In 2017, Scully took to Instagram to lift the lid on Balenciaga, Hermès and Lanvin casting agents who he accused of misconduct.
The post went viral, attracting the support of Berluti’s Chief Executive and Loro Piana Chairman Antoine Arnault , along with high profile models such as Helena Christensen, Elsa Hosk, model-turned-activist Cameron Russell and other prominent fashion figures. Following this, Kering and LVMH joined forces in support and established the charter on working relations with fashion models and their well-being. The charter took effect in 2017. It laid out guidelines including the abolition of casting models under the age of 16, dress size 0 and ensuring mandatory chaperoning for late castings, among other rules for brands in their portfolio.