Runway Show Do's & Don'ts

I've written numerous posts about runway related topics, but wanted to add this post to really highlight some of the significant do’s and don'ts that runway models can learn from, especially if you are new to the catwalk.

Photo by Tiffany Marie Buckley, wearing Lucia's Sarto. Makeup by Samantha Cozadd, hair by Shelbi Corker.

Even if you haven’t booked your first show yet, you can still use these tips to your advantage! The backstage atmosphere & processes tend to be pretty similar from show to show, so going in equipped with the information below will help you be the type of model that clients will want to work with again and again!


DO: ARRIVE EARLY I once had someone say to me: "Early is on time and on time is late", and I’ve applied this motto to my work ethic ever since. Once you know the time and address of where you need to be, do whatever it takes to get there early.


I personally prefer to arrive at shows at least 30 minutes early. This is so that I can take my time finding parking (you never know what the venue parking will be like- you may have to park blocks away and walk), eat a quick snack, and check any last-minute emails/texts/social media before I go in so that I’m not walking in with my nose in my phone (I find this to be very rude). Going in cool, calm and collected will always make a better impression than being late & rushing in all flustered. Another added bonus of being early- you get first dibs for hair/makeup!

DON'T: HAVE AN EGO OR BAD ATTITUDE

The fastest way to get a bad reputation? Walk into a show as if you're the supermodel and everyone else is just the extras. You are one of many models that got chosen because of talent & looks, so you are in no way above any of the other models there.

Another sure way to give yourself a less than desirable work reputation is to have a bad attitude when something doesn’t go your way or as originally planned. The reality is that things happen backstage that can affect your participation in the show. Your hair/makeup might look awful or one of your looks may be passed to another model (or dropped completely). Do. Not. Make. A. Scene. Keeping your cool and being adaptable to whatever circumstances that may arise will make you look so much better in the eyes of the client & other models.

If something happens backstage, don't let it affect your ability to do your job. Work with whoever you need to work with and do whatever you need to do in order to figure out a solution and keep it moving. Save your emotions for when you get home, and whatever you do, don’t get on social media & blast everyone. That's never a good look.

DO: BE PREPARED

Even if I know a full glam team is going to be there to take care of hair and makeup, I will always still bring my model bag that contains anything that I may need for that day (see my post on what to pack in your model bag for women & men).

I do this as a backup plan because I've been to shows where the worst case scenario happened and the makeup team didn’t show up. It was no big deal because I was able to achieve the look my designer wanted with my own makeup kit.

I also like to be sure I have at least one pair of black shoes and one pair of nude shoes, even if the designer says they’re bringing shoes for me. I’ve seen too many instances where the shoes the designer brings don’t even come close to fitting, and on one instance a shoe even broke right before the show! It’s best to be prepared and have your own shoes on hand even if you don’t end up needing them.

DON'T: IGNORE THE VISION

Most designers and show producers have a very specific way they want a model to act/walk on the runway. Sometimes they want a very plain robotic look and other times they want you to be bouncy and happy (and all the other moods in between). If you decide to step out of the box and do something different, you'll throw off the pace and vibe of the show and most likely return backstage to some pretty irritated people.

While you definitely should enjoy the runway for the short time you're on it, you need to respect the vision of the designers and producers that hired you. Going against their wishes will only give you a bad reputation, and they may not book you for any future jobs.


DO: ARRIVE AU NATURAL Unless told otherwise by the designer or show producer, models (both male and female) should arrive to the show without makeup and with un-styled hair.

You also should refrain from wearing heavily scented body lotion, perfume, deodorant, cologne or body spray. These scents can linger on the fabric after you wear them, and oily lotions can leave stains. Going with a non-greasy, unscented body lotion and a clear non-transfer deodorant is the safest way to go. Save the perfume for the after party!


DON'T: WEAR BRAND-NEW SHOES ON THE RUNWAY

This applies to both female & male models. I can't stress enough the importance of breaking in new shoes before you wear them on the runway. Not only will you have blisters galore, new shoes are often very slick on the bottom and you run the risk of stumbling on the runway. Since you should often be practicing your walk at home anyway, use that as an opportunity to break in your shoes so they can be as ready as you are for your next show.

If the designer provides you shoes, ask if you can practice in them a little bit before the show. If there is a rehearsal, this would be the best time to try them out. If you feel any rubbing at all, prep that spot with a bandaid or athletic tape (which should also be in your model bag) to protect that area when it’s show time.

DO: BE NICE TO YOUR DRESSERS Backstage dressers are wonderful people whose purpose is to help you get in and out of your clothes & shoes. 99% of the time they are unpaid volunteers and/or students, and are doing it for the love of fashion and to get experience backstage. Many of the designs are difficult (and sometimes impossible) to get on by yourself, and having dressers there to help with zippers, fastening, pinning, smoothing, and straightening is a Godsend, especially if you have a quick-change between your looks.


Never treat your dresser like they are below you. The fact is- you most likely wouldn’t even be able to get dressed without their assistance, and you never know if one day they may be a designer themselves. I have become really good friends with some of my dressers and know that they will take care of me when I see them at shows.

DON'T: MISTREAT THE CLOTHES

Eating, drinking, sitting, and going to the restroom while wearing a designer's clothes are huge no-nos. Be aware of your movements after you’re dressed and be mindful of keeping your outfit from getting stepped on, torn or snagged. If you need assistance doing something to avoid possibly ruining what you're wearing, don't hesitate to ask for help. There are many people backstage who are always willing to step in to assist.


Also, when you remove your garments after the show, DO NOT just leave them laying in a pile on the floor. Trust me, I know what it's like to be there all day and just want to get out of there after the show, but if your garment came on a hanger you need to put it back on that hanger before you leave. If you are wearing jewelry that isn't yours, be sure to specifically hand it to the designer or their assistant and not just leave it laying on a table. They last thing you want is to have your reputation tarnished because someone thought you stole their jewelry when you really just left it laying somewhere you shouldn't have.

DO: WATCH VIDEOS One of the best ways to learn the world of runway is to watch the shows. YouTube, Vogue, and other websites have more runway videos than you could ever ask for from every show season. You'll see that no two shows are exactly the same, and each model has their own walk and individuality while still being cohesive with the overall vibe of that particular show. Learning how to adapt to the atmosphere each show has while still keeping true to your own style is key to being a successful runway model.


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