I love backstage photos more than the runway show ones. Backstage you see the models relaxed in their outfits and most importantly you see them smiling. You can feel the fashion show frenzy. My favorite backstage photographer is Sonny, who is the only one who takes ‘happy’ photos. But photos are one thing, while the real backstage is just a beautiful mess.
During Milan Fashion Week I worked with organizers of the Spring Summer 2012 show of Byblos. I had been other times backstage, but just to check the collections in person, this was the first time I had the opportunity to be part of the beautiful mess. These are 6 things I learned during this experience.
1- The collection isn’t ready till the moment it is on the runway.
Even though designers and all the creative team have been working on a collection for months, the work on a collection isn’t over till the model is walking the runway and you can’t do anything more to change it. This means that the last days of the preparation of a runway show is a 24 hr work day with castings, fitting, and changes to the designs. You can read here a post by Francesca at My Black Boudoir describing her fitting day for Byblos Spring Summer 2012. Working from 11am till 4am of the next day non stop is just an ordinary day for a fashion stylist preparing a runway show.
2- Models are just like babies who need babysitting.
With different models having different runway shows happening during a day, you’ll never find them all at the make up session together. So someone needs to check on models making sure they are at the location, they are having their hair and make-up done and no one went missing somewhere. You need to chase them when they disappear for a smoke. All what the organizers have in their hands is the composit of a model, and recognizing them isn’t that easy. The truth is that when I was looking for a model to see if she had come in and was having her make up done, I couldn’t distinguish one from the other. Shouting out the name of the model that you are looking for might help.
3- Food is available and delicious backstage, and models do eat.
Fresh juice, fruit and small snacks made of delicious bread, cheese and ham is the buffet available for everyone backstage. And models do eat, actually they eat everything, one even took my favorite salty croissant with ham, it was the last.
4- Shoes never fit.
Runway show shoes usually are sample ones, meaning they have all the same size or better say no size at all written on them. having 20 models in a show means that the majority of the shoes won’t fit the model. They will be too small for one model and too big for the other. When the shoes are big you try and fill them with whatever you find around like insoles, cotton and something new I had never seen before was the sticking of the shoes to the feet with glue… yes glue. When the shoes are too small the problem has very few solutions, cause a feet would never enter a shoe 2 sizes smaller. In this case you just try giving the model a pair of open sandals where the feets will be a little bit out of the shoe, but as far as she can walk in them it is ok.
5- Under everything you have to go nude, nude underwear of course.
This is an industry rule and the first lesson for a model. Nude underwear is very important given that some dresses maybe with sheer fabric. As you have learned from lesson number 2, babysitters need to get nude underwear for the models just in case they have forgotten and have come to the show with pop colors and flowers.
6- It takes around 120 people to make a 15min runway show.
As far as I’ve counted, it takes around 120 people to make a runway show happen. 20 models with 15 make up artists and 15 hair-dressers, 2 ladies who iron, 30 dressers who actually dress the models, 1 stylists and 1 assistant stylist, 2 show organizers and 5 assitants, 5 electricians for the lights, a couple of stage cleaners, 3 sound checkers, 7 stewards who welcome and asign seats, 10 security. Lets not forget the designer(s).
Me and Francesca (assistant stylist)
The models board in order of appearance. Photos from the models’ fitting happening the day/night before the runway show.
This is Francesca checking that every outfit is ready for the 25th time.
Watching the show on the screens. Hoping no model falls. Luckily we didn’t have the falling model of the year Lindsey Wixson ;-).