It seemed like Natalie Joos became an overnight street-style sensation, but the casting agent, now in her thirties, has been working behind the scenes in fashion since she first moved to New York City in 1997. Growing up in Ghent, Belgium, Joos never anticipated a clothes-driven career. "I didn't know what fashion jobs were except to be a designer," she told the Cut, but her parents convinced her to get a college degree (in political science and journalism) first. "It's very important to have a diploma in Belgium." From there, she moved to London for a graduate degree, and was approached for a public relations job at a now-defunct label in New York. She declined, then eventually accepted, and the position led to gigs assisting Glenn O'Brien and managing Craig McDean's studio before she decided to try her luck as a casting agent in 2003. It worked out, and Joos has gone on to cast campaigns for Helmut Lang, Karen Walker, and Hugo Boss, while also styling editorials for Harper's Bazaar Russia, V Spain, and managing her own blog, Tales of Endearment, where she chronicles her love of stylish women who wear vintage.
Every fashion month, vintage plays a huge role in how Joos prepares for four weeks of travel; unlike some of her colleagues, she brings just one suitcase. "I have a herniated disk from heavy luggage, so I'm very careful now," she says. While in Milan and Paris, she has friends who send her stuff, and then she goes vintage shopping in between. Rather than doing a head-to-toe retro-inspired look, Joos opts to mix in bold contemporary pieces by Marni or Stella McCartney with vintage sourced from her travels, or New York favorites like Artists and Fleas or 10 Ft. Single by Stella Dallas. "As long as my legs keep looking okay and I can keep showing them [off], then I should take advantage of that fact," she says, noting her love of skirts. "Once my legs have started going down the drain, I'll start wearing pants more." Click ahead to hear Joos break down a few of our favorite Fashion Week looks, along with tips to re-create each outfit, even if you can't get next season's designer items before everyone else.