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Runway Show Prep

Runway shows and fashion weeks are very slowing trying to get back to normal, but many accomodations are still needing to be made due to the pandemic. One thing always remains the same though- being a prepared and professional model!

Photo by Mark Schwigen wearing Wai Ming

Some shows are still virtual, some are at extremely limited audience capacity, and sadly some have again been cancelled altogether. Despite all of that, if you get booked for a show, it is still your job to show up ready to work. Even if the audience is tiny or non-existent, you should still treat it like any other show, and that takes proper preparation.

All shows are a little different and may require tweaks to what you need to do to prepare, but below I outline some of the main things you should always be sure to do as show day approaches.


- Mani/Pedi: Make sure to use neutral or clear polish on both fingers and toes so you will match with whatever the designer dresses you in. Never do any bright colors, bling, or designs unless a designer specifically asks you to!

- Hair removal: make sure to fully wax/shave your legs & underarms. If you will be wearing swimwear or lingerie, don’t forget to address the bikini line (sometimes a good idea to do it anyway, you won't always know ahead of time what you’ll be wearing). If you prefer waxing over shaving, do it at least 2 days before in case there is any lingering redness or bumps.

- *If Requested* Get a Spray Tan: Do not get a spray tan (especially a super dark one) if the designer has not requested it. If you do get one, make sure to do it a few days before the show so there is no risk of the tan solution transferring onto the clothing.

- Eat Clean: While a well-balanced diet is standard practice year-round for models, it’s really important to maintain that the week of a show. This DOES NOT mean starving yourself or crash dieting before a show, but rather avoiding foods that you know will trigger bloating or skin breakouts.

- Stay Hydrated: Part of a healthy diet includes staying hydrated. Not only will increasing your fluid intake make your skin look better, but drinking water will also help keep your energy levels up. Being hydrated before hitting the runway is critical in preventing dizziness and even fainting caused by dehydration.

- Cut Alcohol: A definite way to make sure you’re not looking puffy on the runway is to cut alcohol entirely the week of the show.

- Maintain Workouts: Make sure to keep up your usual workouts the week of the show. It’ll help keep your energy & confidence levels up when it’s time to hit the runway.

- PRACTICE: This is something you should be doing on the regular anyway, so don’t slack off the week of a show! If you know ahead of time that you're going to be wearing a big flowy gown or somthing that's really hard to move in, try to recreate that at home and practice walking and posing so you're prepared.


- Pack Your Model Bag: Maintaining an organized and ever-ready modeling bag is a must for every model. Even if the designer says you only need to bring nude underwear, it’s always best to be the model that comes prepared and have your full bag with you in case there any last-minute look changes. Check out my post Runway Model Bag for tips on what to pack!

- 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 & oil build-up in it. After washing, don’t add product or style it- let it be natural!

- Check Nails: If you didn’t get a mani/pedi earlier in the week, remove any nail polish from your fingers and toes and put on a fresh nude or clear coat. DO NOT show up with chipped nail polish. Doing so makes you look extremely unprofessional.

Tip: If your designer will be having you apply a color when you arrive on set, apply a clear base coat on your fingers & toes before you get there to help prevent any staining of 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 your entire body so your skin glows on the runway. Keep in mind that the night before a show is not the time to try out a new skincare product or mask! If you aren’t sure how your skin will react, don't risk it and stick to your usual routine.

- Know Where You’re Going: Be sure to look up the location for the show and plan your route. Know how long the drive will take, where you will park, and where you need to check in once you arrive on location. Showing up late, whatever the excuse may be, could lead to you being droped from a show and/or 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.


- Arrive Natural: Unless it has been requested that you 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.

Same goes for your hair. Unless you've received instruction to straighten or curl your hair prior to arrival, it is best to leave your hair natural.

- Dress the Part: Wear loose, comfortable clothing, but not your pj’s or sweatpants! 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 skin-revealing look.

Unless instructed otherwise, wear nude seamless undergarments. Don’t be surprised if you are asked to remove your bra or panties to avoid lines. Also, keep your hair and makeup in mind and wear a shirt that’s easy to get on and off without messing either of those up.

- Put Your Phone Away: Don't have your phone out the entire time you’re backstage. Be present and available for whatever direction is given to you. Also take advantage of this time to network. Make it a point to say hello to everyone from the hair stylists and makeup artists to the designers and production crew. You never know who somebody may be able to connect you to or what friendships you will make.

- 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.

- Listen: Be sure you give your full attention to the people in charge when they ask for it. They are there to make sure everything runs smoothly and have already logged many hours before you arrived. Pay attention to direction, stay focused and remember you’re there to work.

- Don’t Stress: The day of the show you may experience multiple fittings, rehearsals, hair & makeup sessions, photo shoots & who knows what else… Having patience while the show chaos carries on around you is essential.

- 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! You’re not always going to have hair and makeup that you think is amazing and you won’t always love what you’re wearing, but remember not everyone gets this opportunity and would love to be in your shoes at that moment, bad hair and all.


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