top of page

What to Expect at KCFW

Kansas City Fashion Week: A week full of fashion that so many models strive to participate in. Months, or even years, of practicing your runway have gone into preparing you for the day that you'll make it onto the runway.

While fashion shows appear to be nothing but glam from the outside, you'll soon find out that isn't quite the case behind the curtains. Backstage, an army of people is working to ensure the show goes off without a hitch. Production has been working for months to ensure everything is ready for the big week. As a result, it can be chaotic.

Photo by Daniel Patrick McBride

If you're a new model and this is your first KCFW rodeo, here's some of what you can expect during fashion week!

It's Work

From an audience's standpoint, the shows are fabulous, but when you go backstage and see what's happening, you see the work that goes into putting on a show. The runway, seating, lighting, and sound systems are set up in advance by teams that work long hours to get it up quickly and make it look good. The show production teams have been coordinating everything for months and will continue working hours after the shows end for the night to wrap everything up. Keep this in mind if someone on the production team seems short with you- they're tired! Please pay attention to directions and help them keep the train running smoothly.

Plan for Parking Issues

Sometimes more events are going on downtown than KCFW, so you always need to add extra time to your commute in case there are limited parking spaces available and you have to search for a spot. KCFW also does not cover the cost of your parking, so you need to be prepared to pay a parking fee, find free parking, or arrange rideshare options.

Pack Your Bag

Having a model bag full of everything you might need that day is so important. You never know when you may have to step up and do your own makeup or need a different pair of shoes because your outfit changed at the last minute. Check out this post for some essentials you should always have in your bag for a runway show.

There is a Rehearsal

Many models often worry because the runway they've been practicing on isn't the same as the show runway, or they have a complicated outfit and aren't sure what to do with it. Don't worry! There is a rehearsal on the day of the show, which will give you a chance to test out the runway with your shoes and to work out any concerns you may have with your outfit. The runway is often pretty slick, so this is a perfect opportunity to get a good feel for it and make any necessary adjustments to your shoes to avoid slipping.

There May be a Photoshoot

occasionally, the designers will use the opportunity of having all their models together and in the full show looks to have a photoshoot. This will mean that your show call time will be earlier in the day than some other models, and you will have your hair and makeup done much earlier too. This may also mean you have less downtime to relax or go to get food, so make sure you consider that when packing your model bag for the day!

Your Hair & Skin Will Take a Hit

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 may then spend the next few weeks trying to get your split ends and clogged pores under control. Properly prepping your hair with heat protectant sprays and moisturizing treatments and maintaining your skincare routine throughout the week can make all the difference in preventing too much damage from being done. I don't care how tired you are when you get home from your show- WASH YOUR FACE!

Hurry Up & Wait

On show day, you will also be sitting backstage for hours doing fittings, rehearsing, and waiting for the beauty teams to get to you. There will be several moments throughout the day when you may suddenly be rushed to do 'this' or finish 'that', and immediately after that manic moment, you may have an hour of absolutely nothing to do. Unfortunately, this is just part of how schedules sometimes go, so you just have to roll with it and ensure you don't get flustered in the frantic moments. Pay close attention and do as you're told; it will be fine! Make sure you bring things to do (book, school work, etc.) to keep yourself entertained when you're not needed for anything.

Bring Your Own Food

Catering for the models at a fashion show is never guaranteed, and at KCFW, they do not provide food for models. Sometimes designers will provide light snacks & water for their models, but not all designers do this, so it is not something you should count on. You also may not have time to leave the show venue to get food or have any delivered, so it's important to pack enough to last you through the day and night.

Last-Minute Changes

Fashion shows rarely go off without any issues. Sometimes models are late or don't show up at all, or something may have happened to your outfit. This means that the look you have fitted for numerous times already may suddenly be passed onto another model, and you have to wear a look meant for someone else. This can be stressful because you may not have a chance to practice walking or posing in your new look and have to wing it when you get on the runway.

It's important 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.

Quick Fixes

Designers & stylists work well under pressure to ensure everything on the garments is absolutely perfect, even if that means fixing a busted seam or stuck zipper moments before a model walks onto the runway. So if you have a wardrobe malfunction, don't freak out. Instead, let your designer handle the situation and keep your cool so you don't feel stressed when you get onto the runway.

All the Photos

Backstage, photographers will be present all day, photographing and taking videos of the backstage process. Keep this in mind as you're changing and hanging out. You never know when a camera might be on you!

In the weeks after the shows, there will also be a flood of photos released. Some are posted on public platforms where you can save them, and others are for purchase only. Just make sure you tag all the people involved in that photo whenever you repost any images! Photographer, hair stylist, makeup artist, designer, stylist, etc.

You Might Hate Your Look

Although you'll be hitting the runway in a one-of-a-kind piece, let's be honest, you may not like it. Or maybe your outfit is killer, but your hair & makeup looks like it was done in a dark room (which it sometimes is!). The reality is that it's not your job to like it; it's your job to wear it! You must be a professional and continue to do 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 and make that garment look as good as possible by giving it your best runway walk.

You'll Make Lots of Friends

You will be spending all day, sometimes multiple days, with a group of fellow models. This is the perfect opportunity to network and make friends in a complicated industry. Kansas City has a small fashion industry, and you will likely see the same people repeatedly, so you might as well make friends with them! It also makes the downtime go by much faster when you're chillin' with your friends.

You Won't Be Famous Afterwards

Doing multiple shows throughout fashion week means everyone in the city will know who you are afterward, right?

Wrong. Hundreds of models are booked for fashion week, and although you may meet some key people who will book you for future jobs, the focus of the shows isn't the models- it's the fashion! Due to this, it's very easy for models to get lost in the crowd and not be recognized afterward.

Also, while some models receive payment for walking in KCFW, that is a very small number, so you shouldn't expect any compensation. Most models participate intending to gain exposure or be noticed by an agency or model scout. Realistically, agents and model scouts don't attend the shows often, so your chances of getting scouted at the show are slim (but not impossible!). But KCFW is a great place to meet fashion industry professionals, so you must make an effort to network and seek them out. You will also get excellent runway experience that can help you gain confidence and refine your skills, which would be hard to get in other markets. Just be realistic with your expectations of what happens post-show!

You'll Want to Do it Again

Despite all the chaos and hard work, runway shows are so much fun. The adrenaline rush you get when you step onto the runway in front of a sold-out show is indescribable and makes the long days worth it. You also make great friends that become your little fashion family and seeing them season after season is like an exciting family reunion.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page