Thanks to the success of events like the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, New York Fashion Week and various other Fashion Weeks throughout the world, runway fashion shows have become a source of entertainment much like Broadway shows or films. Celebrities flock to the shows to sit in the infamous “front row”. Many celebrities are paid to attend, either monetarily or in kind, to give clout to a designer’s runway event. Sponsorships from hair and makeup companies abound, each hoping to be a part of a brand’s fashion show extravaganza. It is glamorous business, to be sure, and all of my “layman” friends think I live a “sparkly” life producing shows!
But that isn’t really the reality of things. There is so much meticulous work that goes into a runway fashion show production. Attention to detail and proper planning are what make a show a true success. And it is my role, as producer, to handle all of this so that my client can sit back and enjoy their show, when show day arrives!
The main objective is to understand and hone in the client’s needs and desired end result. This is discovered by meeting with the designer or brand representative, their PR team and pouring over goals such as attendance requirements, sales and press coverage goals and budget. The next step is to decide, collectively, where the best place is for the runway fashion show. Meeting the logistical needs is important – guest count size, proximity for press attendance, location in relation to other shows (when working on a NYFW event). These steps happen months in advance.
Once the location is decided upon, it is my job to coordinate a strong technical team. I draw from people all over the country whom I work with – staging, lighting and sound people that I have long term relationships with. We have a short hand of how to work together and having these relationships is mandatory to ensure a successful production. Together we create the scenic design and the lighting design. I can incorporate video projection, LED walls, live feed and a myriad of other elements depending on the client’s needs.
Curating music is probably my most favorite part of the creative process. I can work directly with the designer, with DJ’s and I often draw from my own library of current tracks to create a soundtrack for the show.
As the technical process is underway, the casting process is also in play. I cast models myself as well as work with fantastic casting people. In New York it is the norm to employ the services of a strong casting director. There are many wonderful ones. The designer and his/her stylist typically dictate the look and feel of the model they want. When I am working with a retail client, it is my job to book models that reflect the clientele attending the show as well as the look(s) of the brands in the show.
Once the models are cast and the “look” is decided upon, the hair and makeup direction is discussed. One lead makeup artist and one lead hair stylist work with me along with the client to design the look. The beauty leads then coordinate their teams and oversee the execution of the look on the models.
Styling the collection, conducting fittings and alterations can be a weeks-long process or, in some cases, has to happen rather quickly if I am traveling a collection across the country. This is where detail is so very important. My back of house team is well versed in management and documenting all fitting notes. We photograph the looks and build look boards for the dressers so that every look is executed perfectly on the show day.
If the process of preproduction is followed carefully, all will go seamlessly come show day. Things happen from time to time – models showing up late, a seating issue in the front of house, waiting for a special guest to arrive or the show being delayed for some uncontrollable reason. But the trick is, of course, to remain calm and deal with whatever comes at me.
No one realizes just how much time, energy and love go into the production of a 15 – 30 minute runway fashion show! It is truly a labor of love that my team and I take great pride in making happen.