This week I had the chance to be at a fashion show during New York Fashion Week. It was for Michelle Smith, founder and designer of MILLY, as she presented her fall/winter 2015 ready-to-wear collection “Prismatic”. And, I’m going to tell you ALL about it!
It was my first time being backstage and attending a “real” fashion show! I know I might sound like a little girl... But it felt like magic! Being surrounded by so many fashion aficionados, I felt in my element! It was casual to see a man wearing a stripped metallic and black sequined coat and a woman wearing sneakers with an evening dress. ELLE magazine photographer taking pictures, Olivia Palermo sitting front row and some of my favourite fashion bloggers attending were a plus to this whole experience. You could actually feel the space breathing, as if it were alive! Pure delight!
What is Fashion Week? Fashion Week is an event where designers unveil their latest collections. The most prominent ones are held in the four fashion capitals of the world. For womenswear, this event happens twice a year: starting in February (for the fall/winter collections) and in September (for the spring/summer collections). They are presented in a four weeks circuit: first in New York, then London, Milan and Paris. As for the womenswear haute couture show, they take place a few weeks before and only in Paris. Menswear collections are presented in January and June of each year in London, Milan then Paris and usually last a little less than a week in each city. A single day of a Fashion Week is loaded with several shows (up to 20 in the same day) in various venues all over each city.
Who attends a fashion show? Unfortunately, they are not open to the public and the number of places available is extremely limited. The shows are meant to present the new “in” trends to buyers and the media. The first people invited by the designer, through their PR agency, are magazines editors, renowned fashion stylists, buyers from major boutiques and department stores as well as their family and friends. You will also see celebrities to create more buzz about the show and for the past few years, very influential fashion bloggers!
How did I end up backstage at a fashion show? As a student at Parsons School of Fashion, I got a contact with the PR agency that was producing the event for MILLY. I offered my services to help with the event organization and then got to attend the show :)
A fashion show is a gigantic production! Did you know that the actual runway show is only 15 to 20 minutes long? That’s it! I was surprised too! You would think it would last at least an hour. But, the amount of work and time dedicated to organizing it is enormous! All the teams (public relations, production, photographers, music, hair, makeup, styling, design…) have been working for weeks and some even months to prepare for a 20 minutes event! The day of the show, the different crews arrive early in the morning to set the runway area and make sure everything goes according to plan. That's a LOT of people! It’s game time and you have to be ready!
As the models are having their makeup and hair done, the production team is setting the venue. The music for the show is playing on full mode over and over again as the photographers are snapping pictures according to the lighting that is being fixed. The seats are being placed and the seating cards and information portfolios are being placed meticulously, according to a seating plan that took weeks to prepare. As soon as the runway is ready, the models practice a few times their walks (wearing their comfortable clothes and hairpins) in the order they are supposed to come out in. At the same time, the check-in team is getting prepared at the entrance to welcome the invitees, which start arriving 30 minutes before the scheduled time of the show.
The guests are then seated. They mingle with their fabulous friends while photographers are taking pictures of them for magazines. The show starts 15 to 20 minutes late, which is normal and anticipated! Now… it’s time for the enchantment to begin!
For a short period of time, everybody is silent, focused and mesmerized by the artistry and refinement of each garment. But, let’s be honest… Sometimes, some pieces are just plain awkward! That’s the beauty of fashion! It affects each one of us in a distinct manner :) As soon as the models end the finale, the designer is presented to thank the crowd for their attendance. And voilà!
I truly hope that this is the first of many fashion shows I will be attending! And most importantly, it was a pure pleasure to share this experience with you!
Sending you lots of love from New York City!