Fashion Week: A week full of opportunity that so many models strive to get to participate in. Months and months of practicing your walk up & down hallways preparing for that day when you’ll make it onto the runway. With so many designers every season searching for the right model to showcase their brand, it leaves endless opportunities for new models to finally get their break in the industry.
It’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy of it all and forget that walking in fashion week is probably one of the most hectic jobs a model does. While fashion shows always seem effortlessly glamorous, there is usually chaos going on behind the curtains. Backstage, there’s an army of people working tirelessly to make sure the show goes off without a hitch. It takes months of preparation and tons of hard work from everyone involved- models, designers, show producers, beauty teams, photographers, magazine editors, buyers... the list goes on.
To make it a little easier, read below for some key things for models to expect when walking in Fashion Week!
Do NOT Be Late
This is SO important. Models already have a bad reputation of being late- so don’t be the model that adds fuel to the stereotype! Always know exactly where you’re supposed to be- not just the building, but where you’re supposed to check in for the day. Also know the exact time you need to check in. If you’re late, it’s a domino effect, and you put many other people behind schedule. This is not only unprofessional, it’s not a good look for you and could deter people from wanting to work with you in the future.
The night before the show, have your route and mode of transportation planned out. If you’re driving yourself, know where you’re going to park and if there is a fee so you’re prepared. Always allow for extra time to get there! Even if you know exactly where you’re going and where you want to park, you never know what traffic is going to be like or if the area you’re planning to park in is going to be available when you get there. It’s always better to be really early than even a little bit late.
Know Your Person of Contact
In the chance that something happens that affects your arrival time or participation in the show- know who you need to contact. It’s always better to let someone know the situation immediately instead of just showing up late or not showing up at all.
It’s Not All Glitz & Glam
The shows themselves are fabulous, but when you go backstage and see what’s happening, you see the real work that goes into putting on a show. Most of the 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 show 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! Pay attention to direction and help them keep the train running smoothly.
You will also be 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.
Your Hair & Skin Will Hate You
Having your hair and face in the hands of leading industry professionals means you’ll look fantastic when you step out onto the runway, but you’ll then spend the next few weeks trying to get your split ends and clogged pores under control. Having your hair styled in many different ways & heavy makeup (that’s not your usual brand) applied night after night will catch up to you, so properly prepping your hair and maintaining your skincare routine throughout the week can make all the difference.
I don’t care how tired you are when you get home from your show- WASH YOUR FACE!
Fashion shows rarely go off without a hitch of some sort. 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!
It’s important to be mentally prepared for any kind of last-minute change-up so that if it happens, you can take it in stride (literally) and not let it ruffle you.
Even though designers have been working on the garments for months, there are almost always last-minute fixes that have to be made. Designers & stylists are able to work well under pressure to make sure everything is absolutely 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 seem stressed when you get onto the runway.
There’s Probably No Food or Water
Catering for the models at a fashion show is never guaranteed. While they may tell you that light snacks & water will be provided backstage, there’s often 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 of your own is vital for maintaining hydration and energy levels throughout the day/night.
All the Photos
There will be photographers present all day & night, and not just at the end of the runway. Backstage, photographers will be getting in dozens of shots of everyone to document the event. This is why it’s so important to always look your best, even if you were out late the night before and had an early call time that morning. NEVER show up in your sweatpants looking like you just rolled out of bed- even if that’s exactly what you did.
The photos from backstage will be released, and if you’re in them looking like a hot mess, it could deter some people from working with you in the future. Also, make sure you have an outfit for after the show if you plan to stick around & mingle.
You Might Hate Your Look
Although you’ll be hitting the runway in a one-of-a-kind piece, lets be real, it may not actually look that great. Or maybe your outfit is killer, but your hair & makeup looks like it was done in a dark room with no mirrors. 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 to do your job to the very best of your ability. Many models would love to be in your position, ugly outfit & all, but you were the lucky one that was chosen. So, remind yourself how blessed you are and make that garment look as good as it can by giving it your best runway walk.
You Won’t Be Famous Afterwards
Doing multiple shows throughout fashion week means you’ll be rolling in dough by the end of it and everyone in the city is going to know who you are, right?
Wrong. Most models are paid very little (if at all) to walk in fashion week. Oftentimes, producers get models to participate by promising them that the exposure they’ll get from the shows will get them tons of high-paying jobs after fashion week, but that certainly isn’t the case. You might meet a couple people that will book you future paying jobs if you’re lucky, but definitely don’t expect much from the “exposure” that is promised. The shows are fun and you can gain beneficial runway experience by doing them, but that’s usually where it ends.
Although most people only see the glitzy part of Fashion Week, hours and hours of work by hundreds of people go into every single show, even though they only last for a few minutes. Fashion and modeling are no doubt exciting industries to work in, but they are also industries that require a lot of hard work, preparation, and dedication. By the end of it, you’ll feel new levels of extreme exhaustion, but you’ll be on an adrenaline high for the next few weeks and counting down the days until you get to do it all over again!