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Anita Bitton

Enjoy our conversation with one of fashion’s most sought after casting directors.

Anita Bitton

Founder and head of the NYC-based casting and production agency, The Establishment, Anita’s sharp eye has helped develop the image of brands like Alexander Wang, Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu by connecting them with women that authentically and inherently express their vision. She’s collaborated with celebrated photographers like Irving Penn and Tim Walker and is the casting director for Love Magazine.

Up close view of a red haired woman with glasses in a yellow hoodie.

Can you tell us a little about where you grew up?

South London. South of the River Thames. Housing estates, chip shops, pubs, we left the house in the morning, and came home when the street lights went on. We ran around, jumped trains and buses, hung out on commons. We listened to Northern Soul, and The Tim Westwood Show on a Saturday night, live from New York, through a CB radio. We took care of each other.



What was your childhood like, and how was creativity and self-expression cultivated in your adolescence?

My parents were both immigrants to the UK. They worked blue collar jobs. We had a meter for the electricity. It wasn’t uncommon for us to have nothing to fill the meter with. On those days we went to bed early, or stayed out late. We lived in nightclubs, at train stations, we hung out and listened to music, we dressed up, and dreamed about the future. 


What excited you as a child?

McDonalds, fashion magazines, tap dancing, shoplifting, Top of the Pops, daydreaming–mostly about being a part of Bananarama, and later on Soul to Soul.


How did you get your start in fashion?

It was a long series of awkward and excited coincidences. I was scouted to model for Barbara Hulanicki in the early 80s, and then a series of unintelligible events that brought me to where I am today. I’ve been blessed by a fashion fairy, and allowed to grow up doing things that I love..

Woman in a pink silk pajama button down and shorts floating over a bed.

Photo by Anita Bitton for Lingerie On Film

You assisted Edward Enninful, who had become the fashion director of i-D, at age 18. Can you tell us what that was like and what you learned working with him?

I don’t remember it feeling like a job. I was very proud; I opened the mail, organized the diaries. I was excited to do the fashion closet returns on the bus. It was brilliant–I would then run across the piazza in Covent Garden and work an evening shift at TGI Fridays–it was an amazing time. I learned to speak up, speak out, and “always be closing.” I was always inspired. To do more, to be more. It was a magical time. I was hungry though.



Who are the people in the industry that have inspired you?

Aaron Sharif, Cathy Horyn, Freddie Leiba, Katie Ford, Katie Grand, Kim Sion, Lesley Goring, Marc Jacobs, Mark Picken, Paul Hunwick, Sachiko Okada, Terry Jones.




What inspired you to go into casting?

I always had a terrifying fear of authority, and while I was always a dedicated employee, I needed a job that was flexible, fun and didn’t require a resume.



What motivated you start your own business, Establishment Casting?

I didn’t start it, it started me. I was working, and eventually I was busy enough to start hiring others to help. The lessons have been invaluable. I’ve learned everything the hard way.



You were critical in helping to create the image of Alexander Wang's brand for 11 years. Can you share a little about that experience with us?

We were very lucky. It was another amazing and magical time; we took a lot of risks, had a lot of fun and got a lot of help. Alex was the ingenue of NYC fashion, and we were all ambitious enough to make it happen.



As a former model, do you think having that background has given you a special insight into casting?

I was an awful model, and far too young and insecure to ever make a difference. That said, it is one of the facets of my job, that as an adult I understand and appreciate.



Do you know initially if a model is going to be really big, or is it something that slowly comes into focus?

There are no assurances in any occupation, and the making and maintaining of a model’s career in 2019 is a very different and less predictable trajectory than before. Think The Hunger Games–“may the the odds be forever in your favor”. 



Social media has had such a huge impact on the fashion industry in general. How has it changed the way you do casting?

Social media has increased the access across the board in fashion. Visibility has increased tenfold and the shows have immediate feedback. We used to have to wait for the results. Now they’re immediate. Everything has sped up exponentially and shelf lives have decreased.



What do you think it will take to see genuine diversity in fashion?

More people taking more action.



Do you have a favorite photograph from something you've worked on?

Black and white image of a nude woman sitting on a chair.
Irving Penn, Large Nude Woman seated “Epic Proportions”, Vogue Magazine April 2004.
Black and white photos of nude woman wrapped in a variety of fabrics.
Lynette Garland, Love Magazine Issue 21
Black and white images of a woman wrapped in mesh fabric and a woman wrapped in pillows.
Lynette Garland, Love Magazine Issue 21

What advice would you give anyone interested in casting? Or modeling?

Take a job based on your passion, and not on power or money. The fashion business is overrun with power-led egos, it’s easier to rise to the top when passion is driving you. The power play is temporary.



What is something you've loved for a long time?




What’s something you wish you knew how to do or that you’re currently trying to learn more about?




What time of the day do you feel most energetic and what do you do in those moments?

I’m a morning person. I wake up early to work with Europe, and then to organize my son getting to school. I walk fifty blocks every morning through Central Park and onto Fifth Avenue. This has become an essential part of setting the tone for my day.




Are there any principles that help guide your day, actions, or lifestyle?

It is the only point of getting up every morning…… to make something good, to make something even better than before, not to give up, to compete, to be ambitious.~ Lucian Freud



What is the best gift you have ever given someone?

My son.



What is the favorite gift you have received?

A poem from my son, and a diamond paperclip earring.



Boy in a pink button down pajama top and shorts jumping on a bed.

Photo by Anita Bitton for Lingerie On Film


What is something that you feel is overrated?

Meditation apps.



Book clubs.


What are you terrible at but love to do anyway?



Can you share a favorite quotation, lyric, or line from a book or song that has stuck with you?

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

~ Aristotle



What is your favorite Instagram account?




What are you currently…

Coveting - Rokh Official
Watching – Blakkklansmen
Listening – The Slow Home Podcast
Reading – Educated by Tara Westover
Dreaming - Summer.


Thank You, Anita!

Follow Anita ~ @bitton




Creator of the once beloved retailer Anaise, and now HÉLÈNE, a creative studio offering photography, styling, creative direction, and model management.
Creator of the once beloved retailer Anaise, and now HÉLÈNE,...

The Influencer and entrepreneur aka @AlwaysJudging
The Influencer and entrepreneur aka @AlwaysJudging

Artist, writer and style muse.
Artist, writer and style muse.


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