Once a year, the boob tube is overwhelmed by a flock of angels in lacy underthings and leather holsters. Like an army of surgically-enhanced peacocks, they strut down the runway donning lavish wings and a bucket of glitter.
“How do I get in on that?” you ask.
Unfortunately, you can’t. But you can learn how to score yourself a seat elsewhere and learn to appreciate the fine art of the fashion show.
Fashion Week Round-Up
Twice a year around the globe in February and September, style capitals assemble a week-long extravaganza showcasing the latest and biggest homegrown talents.
The “big four” consists of (in scheduled order) New York, London, Milan, and Paris. The designs presented in these cities determine the upcoming trends of the new season and are, subsequently, looked upon for guidance by retailers to forecast the sartorial mood of the region.
Twice a year around the globe style capitals assemble a week-long extravaganza showcasing the latest talents.
Getting In to Fashion Shows
Happen to be visiting one of these cities? Unless you’re a magazine heavyweight, celebrity stylist, or a serious buyer, you’re staying behind the velvet rope. At events by established names (which include both haute labels, such as Bottega Veneta, and insider darlings like Alexander Wang), invitations are limited to the fashion elite and couture mavens with a knack for self-promotion.
In other words: Be prepared to send your broke ass home if you ever try sneaking into one of these venues.
Don’t give up yet. There is hope.
Up-and-coming designers often give away free tickets through their PR agents to fill up the tents. As they don’t have the name recognition of, say, Marc Jacobs, they often adopt a more inclusive approach to their attendance lists.
So shoot off an email or give them a call. You might be surprised at their willingness to be accommodating.
Hooray! You’ve made it on the guestlist. What should you expect when you get there?
Up-and-coming designers often give away free tickets through their PR agents to fill up the tents.
Fashion Show Venues
You know why Karl Lagerfeld is always carrying a fan? It’s because fashion shows are H-O-T. The huge lights occupying the ceiling coupled with an anxious audience in a confined space makes for a punishing atmosphere.
The unpleasantness is amplified more so when the designer decides to begin when people are still clamoring to their seats in pitch darkness.
The first row is usually occupied by VIPs, followed by people who have less public recognition, until you reach the top row which is usually filled by scenesters and hanger-ons. Once you’ve stepped over the wannabe models and found your seat, it’s time for the show to start.
Tip: Fashion shows tend to run notoriously late. You can bring a book to occupy your time or chat with a seat mate. Who knows? You might meet someone who could come in handy. Fashion shows are great networking opportunities if you ever plan to break into the industry.
Tip: Fashion shows tend to run notoriously late. You can bring a book to occupy your time or chat with a seat mate.
The lights dim and everyone goes quiet. Music begins to blare from the speakers. You get a peak of a bare thigh and hold your breath.
You’re now in the domain of models.
The biggest misconception about fashion presentations is that the garish get-ups being sent up and down the runway will end up in stores as-is. Strangers exchange incredulous looks while cocking an eyebrow: “Who could possibly want to wear that?” (And in fact, magazine editors have panned shows in the past for their disconnect with consumers.)
The joke, of course, is on the casual observer. Complete outfits, or “looks”, are designed to be seen as a collective vision. Their shapes are often exaggerated, not just for effect, but to show-off a designer’s skills or determine the trends that will be appearing on store shelves in the upcoming months.
Cutting-edge textiles are sometimes introduced and proportions changed to visually reflect the local Zeitgeist. In the case of Viktor & Rolf, their visually-striking avant-garde pieces are shaved down to their simple core message once they hit boutique hangers.
The lights switch back on. 15-minutes go by fast after hours of anticipation. Was it worth it? That might all depend on the swag.
The biggest misconception about fashion presentations is that the garish get-ups being sent up and down the runway will end up in stores as-is.
Fashion Show Swag
So you’ve seen the final walk and the designer take one last bow.
Depending on the budget, fashion shows will leave out free goodies for attendees to pick up on their way to the door. These bags are often packed with merchandise from sponsors, like make-up, disposable razors, and hair products.
At very exclusive events, you might even receive your very own monogrammed clutch.
Depending on the budget, fashion shows will leave out free goodies for attendees to pick up on their way to the door.
Albeit seemingly glamorous, the real point of a runway show is to support the culmination of months and years of hard work by a team of fashion specialists. This is the industry from which dreams are made. The hardest part is getting invited.
- Find a few shows you want to see
- Contact the organizers, PR agents, etc. to get invited
- Anticipate having to wait around before the show begins
- Watch the show for art, not wearbility
- Grab your swag
- Hook-up with a hot model backstage
Do you have more tips for getting in? Stories of your best fashion show ever? Want to brag about the models you’ve picked up? Let us know with a comment!