As we were launching our event and PR firm, our dear friend Carrie Phillips, the “P” in the fashion PR empire known as BPCM, told me, “I like you Thomas, because you run toward the fire.” This more or less sums up what it’s like producing fashion shows, events, and backstages during the overwhelming scale of what is now New York Fashion Week.
The fact of the matter is this: Too many starry-eyed interns show up thinking working on fashion shows will be like The Hills and they soon discover they are not hanging in the sample closet with Whitney and Lauren talking about cute boys. In fact, that experience is nowhere to be found.
Instead, they are working 18-hour days, helping to create our clients’ vision, assisting in garnering media coverage, and at the end feel like they just ran a marathon. As we like to say, “Fashion sleeps for no one.” It’s a relentless grind for us, the designers, the editors, and buyers who all work very hard to make sure everyone will be wearing “cerulean” next season.
Over the years, our firm has done production and PR consulting for a myriad of designers, and now we are looking after all of the designers in Maybelline New York’s fashion week program--that's 26 shows and presentations in seven days!
So, if you've ever wanted to get involved with fashion as a career, here are seven things to know about what goes into producing a fashion show:
1. You Have To Love Makeup: How many tubes of Maybelline Baby Lips do our makeup teams use in seven days? About 144, depending on the number of designers, the final makeup look, and how many models are in the show. We have to make sure our makeup teams have all the Maybelline products that go into the final look that was approved by the designers at their hair and makeup test (this usually happens the week before the show). This also involves the inventory of the many boxes of product shipped to our office--so many that we start using them for tables and chairs.
2. Fashion Week Actually Lasts a Full Month: It takes four weeks to get from the first day of New York Fashion Week to the day of Paris Fashion Week, with London and Milan in the middle. For us in New York, it’s really two months of long nights, long weekends, early calls with Europe and more Excel docs in preparation for it all.
3. You Will Need Multiple Shoe Options: Have that cute pair of heels for when you are working front of house check-in or at the client’s afterparty, and flats for when you are running around dropping off samples or backstage with your casting person trying to find that one missing model. (There's always one.)
4. Get Really Good At Knowing Where People Should Sit: Seating charts with all those stickies look really complex for a reason. Planning the seating for a show usually takes about 20 hours down to the specific seat, and politics come into play. For example, X editor cannot sit next to X store’s fashion director because she is now dating her boyfriend. Or my personal fave: X editor cannot be seated next to her competing magazine’s editor, but you also have to seat them on the same side of the runway far apart so they don’t have look at each other. Yes, really.
5. Makeup Artists Are Celebrities In Their Own Right: We get the opportunity to work with many of the most amazing makeup artists in the world as part of our job--living legends like Dick Page, James Kaliardos, and Yadim. We also get the pleasure of working with some makeup artists that act like they are more famous than the designer or celebrities sitting front row. So fun!
6. You Have To Be An Excel Expert: Excel and email will become your best friends! Understanding the importance of being detail-oriented is what saves you from failing. This season, our master show schedule has 26 tabs, plus specific schedules for all our key artists, the PR team, the client team, our agency team, budgets, etc., totaling 38 tabs of specific information to keep track of at any given time. This information is, of course, always changing until the last minute. It goes without saying that one of us is always in the office strapped to a computer. The key to success in our job is being organized. It’s not all about how cute your outfit is.
7. "Know Who The People Are." The best advice I could give anyone interested in working on fashion shows is the same advice that A) helped me get my first job, and B) still helps me in my job today: “Know who people are and why they are important.” In other words, know who all the big fashion and beauty editors, stylists, store directors, and models are. This will make you valuable to anyone you work for and good at your job.
Anyone out there work in fashion? Interested in working in fashion? Share your career advice and dreams in the comments.