Walking in a fashion show is a goal most models have when they get into the industry. Months and months are spent practicing your walk up & down hallways and down random sidewalks to prepare for the day when you’ll make it onto an actual runway.
Fashion Week is almost like the Super Bowl of the modeling world, and it’s a big deal to be able to walk in one. The chaos during Fashion Week is often amplified since numerous shows are happening over several days, and sometimes the shows are even in different locations!
Many new models get so caught up in the excitement of being booked for a show that sometimes they get a wake-up call when they show up on set for the first time. While the shows always seem effortless and fun from the outsider’s perspective, there is usually mayhem behind the scenes.
To help you better understand what to expect when you get booked for a fashion show, read below to find out what it’s often like backstage!
It’s not that glamorous.
The shows themselves are fabulous, but when you go backstage and see what’s happening, you see the actual work that goes into putting on a show. Most items such as the stage, seating, lighting, and sound systems are set up in advance by teams that worked long hours to get it up quickly. The production teams have been working for months to get to show week and will continue working hours after the shows end for the night. Keep this in mind if someone on the production team seems short with you- they’re tired! Please pay attention to direction and help them keep the train running smoothly.
You will also be stuck sitting around backstage for hours, doing fittings, rehearsing, and waiting on the beauty teams to get to you. Make sure you bring things to do (book, school work, etc.) to keep yourself entertained. Seating is also often limited, so there may be shows where you’re left sitting on the floor.
Last-minute changes are almost a guarantee.
Fashion shows rarely go off flawlessly. Sometimes models are late, and sometimes, models don’t show up at all. This means that the look that you have fitted for numerous times already may suddenly be passed onto another model, and you have to wear the look that was meant for the no-show.
Another likely scenario- the stylist might change your look’s shoe choice seconds before you’re supposed to hit the runway, meaning you haven’t had a chance to practice walking in them and now have to go out in front of a crowd wearing them for the first time. If you’re lucky, the shoes are at least your correct size and put on the right feet!
It’s essential to be mentally prepared for any last-minute change-up so that if it happens, you can take it in stride (literally) and not let it ruffle you.
Garment issues are common.
Even though designers have been working on the garments for months, there are almost always last-minute adjustments that have to be made. Designers & stylists are able to work well under pressure to make sure everything is perfect, even if that means fixing a busted seam or stuck zipper moments before a model walks onto the runway. If you have a wardrobe malfunction, don’t freak out. Let your designer handle the situation and keep your cool, so you don’t make the situation worse or seem frazzled when you get onto the runway.
You’re probably not going to get fed.
Catering for the models at a fashion show is never guaranteed. While they may tell you that light snacks & water will be provided backstage, it often gets snatched up quickly, and there’s usually not enough to go around. You also may not be able to step out of the show venue to get food or have any delivered, so bringing enough snacks and water of your own is vital for maintaining hydration and energy levels throughout the day/night.
Always be ready to have your photo taken.
There will be photographers present all day & night, and not just at the end of the runway. Backstage, photographers will be getting dozens of shots of everyone to document the work of the hair and makeup teams. Never be surprised if you turn and notice a camera pointed at you. This is just one of the many reasons to never show up in your pj’s looking like you just rolled out of bed- even if that’s exactly what you did. The photos from backstage will be released and often posted on social media, and if you’re in them looking like a hot mess, it could deter some people from working with you in the future.
Your hair & skin will hate you.
Having your hair and face in the hands of leading industry professionals usually means you’ll look fantastic when you step out onto the runway, but sometimes a lot of damage can be done in the process. The style teams don't always get the look right on the first try, which means your whole face or entire hairstyle may have to be redone (sometimes several times!) before they can get it right.
Having your hair styled in many different ways & heavy makeup (that probably isn’t your usual brand) applied night after night will catch up to you, so maintaining your skincare routine throughout the week and doing hair treatments when you have the opportunity can make all the difference.
I don’t care how tired you are when you get home from your show- WASH YOUR FACE!
You might hate the way you look.
Although you’ll be hitting the runway in a one-of-a-kind garment, let’s be honest, it may not actually look that great on you. Or maybe your outfit is killer, but your hair & makeup looks like it was done in a dark room with no mirrors (which is sometimes how it happens). The reality is that your look may not be a showstopper, and you might even hate it, but you were chosen to represent that designer’s vision. You need to be a professional and continue doing your job to the best of your ability. Many models would love to be in your position, ugly outfit & all, but you were the lucky chosen one. So, remind yourself how blessed you are to be there and rock your look to the best of your ability!
You won’t be famous afterward.
Most models are paid little (if at all) to walk in fashion shows. Often, producers get models to participate by promising them they’ll get great exposure and more jobs after the show, but that certainly isn’t the case. You might meet a couple of people who will book you future paying jobs if you’re lucky, but don’t expect much from the promised exposure. Doing shows is fun, and you can gain highly beneficial runway experience by doing them, but be realistic with your expectations of what you will get from participating.
Although most people only see the glitzy side of runway shows, hours and hours of work by hundreds of people go into every single show. Fashion and modeling are undoubtedly exciting industries to work in, but they also require a lot of hard work, preparation, and dedication. By the end, you may feel mentally and physically exhausted, but you’ll be on an adrenaline high for the next few weeks as photos from the show start rolling in, and hoping for the opportunity to do it all over again!