My week backstage at New York Fashion Week

This past week, I was incredibly fortunate to participate as a dresser for runway shows at New York Fashion Week (NYFW). I had a surreal opportunity to get up-close with top designer fashion as I helped out at eight runway shows.

What’s it like to be a dresser? Intense. Stressful. Amazing.

Here’s what a typical call looks like:

Arrive. Wait. Get assignment. Go to racks. Review “look” card. Understand the styling, accessories, shoe changes. Use lint brush. Meet model. Have her try on her shoes.

Dress model:

Start from the inside out, bottom up. That means hosiery first, then skirt/pants, then top. Shoes and accessories last. When pulling dresses or tops over the models’ heads, put a “head scarf” over the model’s face to protect the garment from her makeup.  Send her to the runway line up where stylists, hair and makeup staff do final touches.

Whew!

If your model has to change mid-way through the show, that adds to the pressure. A game plan is needed to gently remove the first look and put on the second look. Sometimes, shoes are shared with another model, so coordinating with other dressers is important. Attention to detail is critical. The model’s finished look must match the display card, right down to scrunching gloves or tying bows on belts. Oh, and you only have about three minutes to change into second looks and get your model back into the runway line up.

When the show is over, dressers are responsible to re-hang all the clothes in “showroom ready” condition. That means all zippers zipped, buttons buttoned and snaps snapped. Looks are usually pulled together into one garment bag. The designer’s staff does a final inventory to make sure all the pieces are there, and then we are dismissed.

The entire backstage crew was wonderful to work with – very professional and patient as I learned my way. Thanks to Barbara Berman for giving me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as part of my studies as an image consultant through the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York. It was a wonderful ‘hands-on’ experience to augment my coursework and helped me better understand the fashion industry.

NOTE: Check out all the looks from NYFW online at Vogue: http://www.vogue.co.uk/event/new-york-fashion-week

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