Maria Osado built her casting agency, Güerxs, when she was a teenager. With the brave idea (from a commercial perspective, in 2016) to step away from the industry’s Eurocentric obsession and push toward a more diverse range of faces for Mexico’s fashion scene. Maria has been created with changing Mexico’s ‘rigid beauty standards’ and fashion industry as a whole — and the hype is real.
Along with publishing a series of incredible Güerxs faces (and personalities), captured by Oyster favourite Rafael Martinez, we had the total pleasure of sharing a few words with Maria to discover where she hopes to direct the industry and what really matters to her when she is casting people.
When did you start the agency and what kind of urged the decision?
It was 2016, and Mexico’s fashion panorama couldn’t look further from my everyday reality. The stereotypes were clear: Eurocentric features had a privileged place. Representation needed to be diversified, and I felt like I could not only talk about it, but create something to change it.
How would you describe Mexico City’s fashion and beauty landscape? I want to hear about the good bits and the bits that need changing.
It feels like the diversity conversation is now opened. Still not a reality, but a conversation. The landscape is exciting and frustrating at the same time: many gaps to fill but there are established structures that don’t necessarily allow that to happen. Regarding beauty, it feels very similar. The ‘Mexicanity’ might become a new stereotype, instead of being the big complex question it actually is…
You’ve got an incredible eye for casting, but it seems like you also look for more that looks — lots of your talent have creative gigs outside of modelling. What exactly do you look for? Do you have golden rules?
Thank you! It definitely goes beyond looks, it’s about backgrounds and stories. For me it is very important that there is a community represented behind every model. I look for different features and points of views, but always an open mind and a big commitment.
Yourself and your talent are obviously pretty left field, super into uniqueness and self expression. Is this attitude celebrated in mainstream Mexico City?
Güerxs probably has an article in every mainstream fashion local media, but sometimes it stays in the surface. They will moodboard us but not necessary hire us. Many big productions are made in Mexico: the step I’m waiting is for the responsible people in them to reach out to us to make our statement a common reality.
I’m always interested in people’s upbringings and trying to identify the moment they chose to go down an unusual path. What was your upbringing like? And what was it that sparked a need to celebrate remarkable people?
I’m still in the upbringing process. I played the part being a full time committed student, graduating from high school getting into UNAM University where I’m currently studying; developing different cultural activities like dance, art and education programs; belonging to different social circles and finding myself in all of them — never entirely in just one. On the other side, I was discovering myself going to parties and interning on exciting projects where I would expand my idea of communities — two projects were key: both independent projects looking for a redefinition of local culture. NAAFI a music collective breaking the toxic club dynamics and exploring different sounds, and WWLTD a fashion brand and worldwide community refreshing the design definition. Participating in them made me aware of the infinite possibilities of creating something unique and socially valuable. Fashion was always there, and I guess I got tired of the ‘it girl’ culture that magazines where proposing at the time — everyone I was hanging with were 100% more interesting and, of course, more relatable. Diversity was not an option but an emergency.
What kinds of clients are you working with? Do you have certain requirements for brands you work with — does their authenticity and transparency with things like diverse representation and eco awareness play any role?
Levis, Converse, Bottega Venetta, Opening Ceremony, Urban Decay to mention the most recent ones. Most of them reach out to us from the press we have, where we talk about our statement, so it’s really clear from the beginning what type of work we are doing. We don’t ask for signed forms, but in the near future it will be necessary!
Finally, what’s on the horizon? What major things are you working toward this year?
An educational program in Mexico relating fashion’s cultural part to a new democratic platform where marginated young groups can talk about their identity. Honestly major, the Güerxs baby sister! Can’t wait to share. Not to mention our upcoming website, a state-wide casting call and our own movie — not really, but think about it.