Getting booked for a runway show involves much more than just showing up the day of the show. It’s actually quite a process that, for some, begins weeks or even months before the show date.
Photo by Brishen Lee wearing Ann Taylor
What does all this preparation entail, exactly? The process is slightly different for every model, but there are a few things that every model does to prepare. See below for some common tips & tricks to get yourself runway ready.
Month/Weeks before the show:
Workout: This isn’t a quick pop into the gym to jog on the treadmill for an hour once a week or so routine, this is a lifestyle of consistent workout sessions to be in a constant state of fitness. Whether you’re a size 2 or a size 16, being fit and healthy for your body type is key to looking and feeling great on the runway.
Diet: A well-rounded diet is a must for models, not just during show season but as a lifestyle. However, during show season, healthy eating is often ramped up (this does NOT mean crash dieting!). In the weeks leading up to a runway show, it’s best to make sure you avoid foods that make you look bloated, and eat more of the foods that make you feel energetic and healthy. Many models will cut carbs or certain foods that cause them to feel sluggish.
Practice: The last thing you want to do in the weeks leading up to a show is skimp on your practice sessions. Just because you made the casting cut doesn’t mean you’re safe from being dropped the day of the show. I have seen girls get dropped numerous times just hours before the show starts because even though they practiced leading up to the casting, they hadn't since they were booked, causing them to look stiff on the runway. Always be sure to keep practicing, and switch your shoe styles often so you are comfortable in whatever the designer may ask you to wear.
The Day Before:
Wash your hair: It’s usually best to do this in the morning the day before the show, so your hair isn’t too clean but also doesn’t have day’s worth of product build-up in it.
Remove any nail polish from your fingers and toes: Most designers will want you to have a clean nail for show day. If they want models to have their nails painted, they will usually provide the color the day of the show or let you know in advance to paint your nails.
Tip: Apply a clear base coat on your fingers & toes to help prevent any nail polish they may apply from staining your nail bed. This is especially helpful if you have multiple shows to do and the next designer wants you to have unpainted nails.
Pamper your skin: Thoroughly cleanse, exfoliate, tone, and moisturize. Soft, healthy skin will make you glow on the runway, ashy legs will not.
Tip: This is NOT the time to try out a new skincare product! The 'miracle' mask you picked up at Sephora the day before may sound amazing to use the night before a show, but unless you've used it before, you have no idea how your skin may react. Don't risk it, and stick to your usual routine!
Hair removal: Make sure to fully shave your legs & underarms. If you will be wearing swimwear or lingerie, be sure not to forget to shave the bikini line (sometimes a good idea to do it anyway, you won't always know ahead of time). If you prefer waxing, do it at least 2 days before in case there is redness or bumps.
Avoid alcohol: You may like to have that one glass of wine before bed, but even one glass could make you puffy the next day.
If requested, get a spray tan: Do not get a spray tan (particularly a super dark one) if the designer has not requested it, especially if you didn’t have a tan when you did the casting.
Know where you’re going: Be sure to look up the location for the show the night before and plan your route. Know how long the drive will take, where will you park, and where you need to check in once you arrive on location. Showing up late, whatever the excuse may be, could lead to a client not booking you again. Always plan ahead, and give yourself an extra 15-20 minutes to allow for traffic or difficulty finding a parking space.
Pack your bag: See my post “Model Bag Essentials” for a list of the must-have items to have the day of a booking.
The Day of:
Show up completely makeup free: Unless you have been requested to do your own makeup or to arrive with your base foundation on, always arrive with nothing but moisturizer on your face. Bonus if you have time in the morning to do a quick face mask to help give your skin some extra moisture.
Leave your hair natural: As with the above, unless you've received instruction to straighten or curl your hair prior to arrival, it is best to leave your hair natural. If you straightened your hair beforehand and the designer wants you to have curled hair, your stye may not be able to be changed since it was already heat-styled a certain way, making you mis-matched from the other models.
Get Dressed: Wear loose, comfortable clothing, but not your pj’s! One of my biggest pet-peeves is when models show up to a booking looking like they just rolled out of bed. The call time may be early, and it may be a long day of sitting around, but you still want to look like a model. You are a representative of your brand & your agency, and you want to present yourself in a professional way. Wearing loose clothing is also important because you don’t want lines on your body, especially if you’re in a leg-revealing look.
Tip: Keep it simple- A button up shirt is great because it’s easy to get off after having your hair & makeup done. Avoid wearing something that has a turtle-neck or lot of layers and pieces, as you may have to get changed a few times and a high-collared shirt that buttons up at the back will be impossible to get on and off quickly and without messing up your makeup.
Network: Shows are always good for exposure. Be sure to socialize backstage with everyone from the hair stylists & makeup artists, to the designers and production crew. You never know who somebody may be able to connect you to.
Don't be afraid to say “No”: If the designer wants you to wear something you are uncomfortable with or you are underage and it’s inappropriate, its ok to say no. Be professional about it, and be prepared to be dropped if they don’t have an alternative look for you. Most designers have backup looks, and will willingly swap looks around with other models to accommodate you.
Tip: If you are underage (under 18), definitely do not wear anything that is too revealing or shows your nipples. This is illegal, and any photos taken of you are considered child pornography. Most designers don't know the ages of the models they booked, so it's your responsibility to speak up if you are in this situation.
Wear nude: Unless the designer specifies otherwise, it’s always the safest bet to wear nude undergarments (make sure they are seamless so they don't create lines under your clothing). Don’t be surprised if you are asked to remove your bra or panties to avoid lines.
Put your phone down: Don't have your phone out the entire time while having your hair and makeup done. Be present and available for whatever direction is given to you. Also take advantage of this on-on-one time with the stylists to network.
Make sure to eat!: The day gets long, and often food isn’t provided for models, so make sure you have plenty of snacks to get you through. Many models have fainted before the show due to not eating, so be aware of this & keep your body fueled.
Last but not least… HAVE FUN! All the hard work, nerves, and preparation brought you to this moment, so take it all in and remember why you love doing it so much!
Photo by Jason Jamour wearing Architexture Clothing