7 Things You Never Knew Happened Backstage At Fashion Week

Whether you have dreams of becoming the Olivia Pope of the fashion PR world, who also covers the top brands during Fashion Month or you’re an aspiring model who wishes to sweep the runway in exclusive, sleek, designer duds, New York Fashion Week is notorious for bringing together fashion mavens from around the world!

Our first stop at New York Fashion Week was the Academy of Art show where we played our role as PR professionals by entering the bustle and unruliness that is “backstage at fashion week”. After grabbing our backstage passes, we carefully balanced in our heels over cords and through narrow hallways to find ourselves breathing among a mob of hairstylists, makeup artists, models, designers, assistants, and plenty of media. Needless to say, we fit right in once we started snapping pics and probably got a little too close to the model’s faces while they were getting their makeup done. The backstage experience was one for the books and definitely not what we thought it would be!

For those of you whom are unaware of The Academy of Art Show, eights students were chosen to present their collections at Fashion Week. That’s right, all the designers at this show are students! This made us even more excited, not only because there were eight designers backstage, but they were all people our age!

Designers Liz Li, Bom Kim, Wenhan Yuan, Max Lu, Jingci Jessie Wang, Ruone Yan, Livia Bianda, and Mehrzad Hemati, prepared and steamed their own pieces and left the other direction to assistants backstage.

As we stood in awe at the variety of tasks being done, we were privileged to chat with two of the designers about their collection they produced together. Max Lu and Jingci Jessie Wang showcased a collection full of metallics, leather and sequins that stuck with the minimalistic, structured theme of the show. Max stated, “Our inspiration came from the idea of having dreams and how some can be blurry and some seem to be clear.”

Beyond the model rosters, constant camera flashes and the infinite amount of people wearing all-black and talking on headsets, we found the backstage scene to be a bit different than what we originally imagined. Here are a few of the secrets to behind the stage:

  • Editors and photographers don’t dress up: Although the front-of-house attendees are always dressed as though they’ll be walking down the runways themselves, those backstage tend to be pretty casual, which largely stems from the fact that we’re all running around and working! If heels are seen backstage, they’re either extremely comfortable or worn by the models, friends and/or family of the featured designers, on-camera hosts and any other influencers who may have been allowed backstage. For the most part though, sneakers, flats, boots, sandals, etc., are all the rage in the back. 
  • Overcrowding is real: Because people want their shows covered, they provide media passes to a select group of people. While it’s totally awesome to be one of the lucky one’s selected, you must be prepared because it’s so crowded backstage with models, photographers, media personnel, PR pro’s, agents, amongst so many other important people all trying to get that perfect shot or quote, we occasionally felt like we were trapped in a shoe box.
  • You have about five minutes or less to chat with/photograph the designers: While it would be great to get full interviews with the designers about what inspired their collections, what they’re looking forward to, who their favorite model is and what their favorite piece from their collection is, there’s simply no time for that. While the PR Maven’s do their best to ensure that everyone, at least, gets to chat with the designers, you have about five minutes to get that great quote and an equally amazing photo before both you and they have to move along. 
  • Each model has their own glam squad to prep them for the show: And their squad’s do not consist of the lead hair and/or makeup artist. Although the leads are there to assist, when necessary, and confirm the final products, it’s rare that you’ll see them doing everyone’s looks. The beauty looks are confirmed prior to the show and the leads have spent countless hours training their teams ahead of time to nail them.
  • Models, they’re just like us: Typically, before the show begins, you can find the models eating and drinking water, texting, reading, relaxing, and hanging out while they wait for hair and makeup and/or further instructions. 
  • Concealer tends to be used over foundation: Due to the dewy skin trend that’s been dominating the runways, many makeup artists will opt for using concealer or tinted moisturizers, instead of foundation which has a tendency to be heavy.
  • The person pacing back and forth frantically: has a name and is in charge of the models, ensuring that they don’t stray and are always on call. This person can be seen with a headset, clipboard, and occasionally yelling when it’s time for the models to line up for their final run through.