Last year in October 2016 I had the honour of doing my first ever runway show at Eco Fashion Week in Seattle. It was amazing to meet other designers who were taking the eco fashion world by storm. One of those lovely peeps was Kristen from Kromagnon. I was absolutely delighted when she invited me to collaborate with her for fashion shows at Fashion Week Brooklyn, Eco Fashion Week Vancouver and Green Fashion Week in LA and Las Vegas.
Having just returned back home to Australia I thought it would be a great time to share the inner workings of a fashion show, how to get in and how to rock it.
Remember if you're doing a show feel free to get in touch to ask questions and potentially collaborate. You want to make an impact the first time around, otherwise you won't get to showcase again. You cannot afford to make a mistake. Especially after all the hard work you are putting in to get fashion show ready.
This blog is based on the assumption that you have an established brand. By established I mean you have a name, a style, a set of values and a mission that is guiding you and you have the ability to produce quantity. I will create another blog to make sure your brand is "established enough" to take on a runway show.
Step one is making sure you have a collection ready to go. Have a strategic approach, for example don't launch a bikini collection going into winter. No one will care, you will be forgotten.
A collection can be made up of any number of looks aka outfits. It must include clothing, shoes and accessories (although models can bring their own shoes it is better if you have matching shoes). The runway shows usually have options, for example Eco Fashion Week had the option of an 8, 10 or 16 look collection (they were pretty flexible if you wanted more or less but not many shows are). Keep the collection under wraps and don't share or launch it until you're at the show. I have seen designers share their outfits before their shows, people don't get excited about you if they know what to expect and you want them to be excited, trust me.
You want to ensure your collection has flow. Don't put something on the runway for the sake of it if it doesn't suit the rest of what you're doing. For example don't include a pastel flowing dress if your other looks are dark and structured. Have a second or third opinion and ask experts how to order your looks.
Fashion shows are either by invitation or application. If you want to get into a show that is by invitation make sure your social media is top notch and is showcasing your aesthetic and quality. You want to ensure your website is up to date and is beautiful. The reason this is important is because you want to ensure that you build confidence in your brand so the fashion shows looking at you know you will heighten the experience they are wanting to create. Afterall, they are a brand too.
If you are applying to a fashion show or introducing yourself to an invitation only show you should make sure the above steps are 100% before you do. You want your application to be confident and strong. There are tips, tricks and buzz words you can use to make your application pack a punch which have to be tailored to your label, this is best done with the help of a consultant.
The fashion world can brutal and intolerant. You want to be an alpha and have a strong presence. Your confidence will show and you'll be approached by bloggers, journalists and other media. The fashion show will be confident to refer their media to you because they know you have what it takes to share your message as well as promote the show. If you are shy take a representative with you or collaborate with someone who is confident and can carry your brand well.
Once you get in you will have to decide what hair and make up you want. Don't play it safe, stand out. Think about your looks. You are on the catwalk to make a statement and that requires a carefully thought about and holistic experience. Don't make the mistake most designers make (including me), PLAYING IT SAFE. Safe is boring but you don't want to detour too much from your branding/aesthetic. When your collection is being strutted down the catwalk you want those VIPs, photgraphers, journalists and buyers to be WOWed! They won't be wowed if your models look like they just came from a dinner party.
Depending on what show you are in you will have to either choose the models or find your own. Models should reflect your branding. For example, EcoBling chooses healthy women from diverse backgrounds. Give the models height with heels. You want them to have a great walk and if you are going for attitude and power they need to be able to pull it off. If you are going for dreamy and delicate then you will choose different models. My point is you have to know what you're going for before you get to this stage. Knowing your direction will make it easier to choose models, hair and make up and then you'll need to match your show with music.
Finding unique music that matches your aesthetic is very important. I have seen designers have very different music to their collection and it is awkward and weird. Remember you want to create a holistic experience. An experience that is made up of many parts but looks like one. Choose something that no one has heard, ask the musician if you can use their music. Not only is this polite but it is illegal to use it without their permission. If you get permission they will often be happy to promote you too.
When it comes to THE show you have to have everything ready. You will have done the fittings and maybe even a trail hair and make up session. Make sure you line up the outfits in order, number them, have the models' names on the hangers so you and your assistants know what they will be wearing. Make sure they are steamed (ask the show if they will have steamers or take your own).
Things start to get VERY busy now. Once they have their hair and make up done they will come to you to be dressed. They are trained not to interfere with dressing, so you will have to do it. Don't expect help, take help. Make sure everything is perfect. Look over it again and again and again. Even as you are approaching the stage keep checking it. Give the models a pep talk to build their confidence. If they are nervous it will show, if they are confident it will show. You want them to be confident. Tell them how amazing they look as they head down the catwalk.
If you have to do a quick change (change the models quickly) it is the most stressful part. Usually there is a lot of quick change experts there to help. They have done it before so let them do their job. Just supervise and inspect everything to make sure it goes on right. Then get out of the models way, they will need to run into position, compose themselves and walk.
Once the last model completes her/his walk you will need to walk out. Make sure you look the part. Don't walk out in anything else but your own label. My eyes roll when designers look like they have walked out of the gym. Be fierce, fabulous and soak it up. Smile, wave, be happy! You just completed your first show.
Once you have done it take a moment backstage then get out there and work it. Your job isn't done. Go and chat to the journalists, VIPs, have your photo taken with anyone that asks, hand out business cards like they are confetti and gather up cards too (take a pen and write on the card to give it context for follow up emails). Say yes to the after parties, that is where all the networking really happens. Then go home and SLEEP.
Remember you need to nail the first one or you will miss out on collaborations, invitations and opportunities that follow. Make an impact, be fearless even though it is scary!
Get in touch if you need help otherwise GO FOR IT.