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Lesson #1: Fashion shows are, actually, shows

This one is the first post of the Talk about Fashion Shows series. I will be posting them in the following days so you can start talking about what you are gonna be seeing in the Fashion Weeks. I so hope you enjoy and find it useful! <3

Louis Vuitton FW2012 Show. Source: Elle TV Fashion

Fashion shows are, actually, shows

…So do not expect any simplicity on what you see. Even if the brand is focusing on minimalism or extravaganza, at the end of the day you will get to see a show with all its components. Just like a concert or a theatre play, a Fashion Show requires an unimaginable effort and a wide team of people working full time to get it done and to succeed in the presentation of the collection.
A fashion show offers the whole Fashion industry an idea of what there’ll be in stores in the upcoming season. It’s something like… the biggest shop window ever. It is also the best occasion to give a face to the brand, do PR and meet journalists, buyers and other fashion insiders.
Coordination is key. The brand has to control a huge team in order to create a show and engage with the audience. But they don’t organize this in just one morning. This work may last weeks or even months to give space and time to creativity.
Do you know how many people are involved in this game? Each and every outfit may require many people’s hands to help models to get dressed, which makes me remember how my grandma used to push me to get dressed without any help when I was 2. Há!
Do you know how long brands take to organize a fashion show? Do you know that a year of work is presented in about 10-15 minutes?

Well, let’s start for the very beginning.

Stella McCartney FW2012 (undetermined photographer)

Brands have to select an optimum location for their fashion show with proper dimensions. Well, what am I saying?! OPTIMUM IS NOT EVEN THE WORD. The word could be super-mega-outstanding, since the location is gonna play a big role in the whole scene. Preferably with high ceilings (to create crazy optical effects) and no natural light, the location can be from an old ballet school or an abandoned warehouse, to an art gallery or an idyllic garden. It actually depends on what the designer wants to transmit with the whole show (and also the budget!). Many experts in this matter suggest central locations which allow visitors to arrive comfortably, specially in Fashion Weeks.
Lightning design is a key element in fashion shows, playing a decisive role in the “cool factor” of it. Colours and angles help to create the atmosphere that represents the designer’s philosophy, the mood and the collection itself.

Chanel FW2012 Show

The brand needs space for the runway, for a big backstage and space for seating a bunch of people. Depending of the time of the year (specially if we are talking about special events like Fashion Weeks), maybe a minimum of 500 seats is “fair enough”. Seating is as complex as in weddings: “who should I sit aunt Hilda with? Oh, she doesn’t fancy uncle Ted… maybe I should leave her alone in the middle of the teenagers, she’ll surely have fun”.
Well, if you translate this situation into a fashion show you’ll find yourself in the same position. Experts say that you should take special care about journalists’ seats –and not so much about celebrities’ seats-. After all, journalists are the ones who rule this world writing and reviewing. Their words are God’s.

Narciso Rodriguez Front Row by Travis Levius

You also gotta know that even the music is not random. Brands select the music according to the mood of the collection they are presenting or the identity of the brand itself. They must control the licences of the music they are using before the show, and sometimes work with specific DJ’s to get the beat that suits them better. Music has to be something able to –literally- catch visitors attention without destroying their eardrums, and the rhythm has to be model-friendly. Will the models be able to catwalk with that beat?
And talking about models… this is quite an important thing around here since models ARE the show. The fashion brand contracts an Expert Casting Director or a Casting Company before the show so he/they can hire models according to their requirements. Depending on the brand’s budget, they will hire from 25 to 30 models (sometimes less, sometimes more) that will present 50 outfits.

Prada FW2012 Show. Source: PRADA official Youtube channel

If you have a quick look to fashion shows, you’ll notice that all the models look the same. Models have to learn to behave the same way for the show. Does the brand need a super powerful woman to represent it? Or do they maybe need a walking dead instead? Then all the models will have to behave like that. It is not possible that one model represents Barbie disco and the next one is a Pinypon. No way.
Beauty doesn’t really matter. I remember four years ago when I was at a Fashion Editorial Photoshooting with a Spanish magazine called Mia. The model was HORRIBLE, I mean, for real. She looked like a sick skeleton, like taken from Tim Burton’s movies! The stylist saw my face and understood what was going on my mind right away. She told me: “oh, she doesn’t need to be beautiful, you know? Actually, beauty is not important when it comes to Fashion, specially for specific jobs. The uglier the model is, the more you’ll appreciate the garments”. It didn’t make sense for a couple of days, but then I understood it all. She was SO right.
In the meantime, the backstage of a Fashion Show is a jungle where hair and make-up artists fight to get their models ready for the runway, while dressers put clothes on models’ bodies (sometimes even 4 dressers for each model!).

Viktor Rolf Backstage by

Another important factor is hospitality. Guests need to feel at home. A nice cocktail, photographers and a photo call, a great service, a fabulous goodie bag waiting on their seat (which surely guests will photograph)… Whatever to make them clap their hands when they hear the designer’s name.
Not forgetting the one-sheet brochure that they will be given at the beginning of the show! Brands have to describe each and every outfit in a few words (twit-sized description) so guests can follow the show and know what they are seeing. The reading of the descriptions has to be something very quick, since models will be on scene for 30-50’ each.
The most important factor among all these components is probably the show’s cohesion. Music, lights, location, models, hair and make-up, technical support… The combination of all these elements must transmit just one only feeling to visitors, possibly creating emotions that they will not forget –at least, not for a week or two-. Everybody should leave the show with the same thought.

Ahá. Now take a look at this.

D&G Backstage. Source: Fashion TV

What do you see? Chaos. Tremendous chaos going from one make-up artist to the stylist to the models to whoever else is working on it. It’s hell, yo.

So now that you’re a little bit more aware of what a fashion show is all about, let’s talk about timings! But not today, we’ll publish the next post Monday morning. See you then!

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