What Really Happens Backstage at Fashion Week?

I had the chance to work backstage at the Sonia Rykiel show this past week and the collection was AMAZING! I especially loved the motorcycle sequined tees and intarsia sweaters like the ones shown below!  There were also some amazing tie-patterned jacquard ensembles (giving way to a masculine-feminine feel), as well as some gorgeous lurex pleated pieces too.  And like always it’s all in the details from the way the blouses were styled as a cross-over wrap, to the cashmere sweaters that were draped and wrapped around the neck and tied in a cravat type look, to the gold medallions that dangled on the mule loafers that spelled out ‘Amour’, everything was done beautifully.  And what’s even better was that every item was done in a way that was not only part of a mini collection but also could be completely interchangeable with any of the other pieces- so versatile and smart!  Take a look at some of my favorite looks below.

Photos taken from style.com
Photos taken from style.com

So what really happens backstage you ask?  Everyone seems to think fashion week is sooo glam but if you really knew what goes on backstage you would think otherwise. There are a ridiculous amount of fast model changes, designers yelling, clothes being thrown around, photographers pushing and shoving just to get a shot… it’s CRAZY! Everyone is under lot of stress and pressure along with no sleep which makes for a bad combo. I’ve been dressing models backstage for the past eight years and it never gets boring that’s for sure!  I’ve done a variety of different designer shows including Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Rag & bone, Y3, Richard Chai, Armani, Gucci… the list goes on and on. Thankfully I’ve only had a few problems occur but I’ve seen a ton of them happen. A lot of new designers don’t realize the time it takes to dress a model completely from head to toe.  It can literally take 30 to 45 seconds at least and that’s sometimes with 4 people helping her. There are a lot of things like buttons, lace ups, etc. that need to be taken into consideration because of the time that it takes to properly put them on. And the worst is boots without a zipper- a dresser’s worst nightmare! The model cannot ever sit down in their clothes as they will wrinkle/ruin them, therefore she needs to be able to get her shoes on with only the help of a dresser.

I work with a professional dressing company and we spend a lot of time making sure and double checking every little detail of the collection and even then things can go wrong.  For instance one show I worked at, the model was in her second look when she should have been in her first look.  No one noticed it because her model card was wrong.  Thankfully she noticed in time and since the show did not start yet, we were able to get her out of the wrong look and in the correct look.  Another show I did, the shoes were not even finished being made yet!  The show was only a half hour away and the zippers were being put in on the spot.  But with the help from my fully equipped prop kit, I was able to MacGyver some shoe inserts and various double stick tape to be able to fit the models feet perfectly!  (I knew that show would come in handy one day for me LOL).   And keep in mind all of this occurs in a very short period of time so you have to move FAST.  If you make a mistake you might only have five seconds to fix it.  It’s crazy to me sometimes to think how designers spend over six months preparing a collection, looking at models, doing the fittings and castings etc. for a show that lasts maybe 15 minutes long.  Being a designer myself I understand the thrill of doing a fashion show, especially at Mercedes-Benz fashion week, and so in some sick way it is all worth it.  Hopefully one day I will be a part of fashion week showing my own collection as a designer!

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