Going backstage at a fashion show is always an education. For a show that lasts maybe ten minutes tops, the preparation takes weeks. On show day everything gets telescoped into a few frenetic hours. I was invited backstage at New York Fashion Week designer Jen Kao’s show on Saturday last week to watch as her team, which at times, felt like a cast of thousands, put together the show.
It took place at Moynihan Station on West 33rd Street, where Rag & Bone had showed the day before.
The building is essentially the back end of New York’s famous James Farley Post Office Building right opposite Penn Station. It’s an impressive venue although, like most fashion shows, it’s not quite so glamorous backstage.
The space is vast,
so the show producers created temporary walls with floor length thick black curtains,
and pumped hot air through giant blowers into the actual show space.
Behind the scenes, they erected a mini marquee to act as a dressing room for the girls, to keep them warm whilst changing, and to give them and the dressers some privacy.
Each dresser has their own section of rail with a photo of their girl, and her looks and accessories photographed on large sheets.
This is also where any final alterations take place,
and the clothes are pressed.
Next door, the hair and make up stations were set up. It was pretty cold back there, but a combination of blow heaters, and the sheer mass of bodies soon warmed it up.
It’s hard to make the toilets look glamorous, but someone tried with the Diptyque…
In case of last minute glitches, the PR team have bought the show seating chart
They are a finely honed group, in their Jen Kao sweatshirts
and all black ensembles.
Backstage all the girls are in hair & makeup,
The finished makeup look:
The hair look is very sleek thin plaits. If the girls don’t have long hair, then there is always a solution
There are photographers everywhere and multi tasking is the order of the day
There’s a lot of waiting about behind the scenes at shows, and the girls are glued to both phones and books
There are craft services, and it never fails to amuse me that whilst there are always healthy options on offer
it’s the sweeties & biscuits that usually disappear first
When the hair & makeup is done, the girls get a briefing on how to walk and the kind of attitude that is required on the runway
As the walk through continued, the girls got instructions on where to walk and turn from one of the show producers:
Then in what seems like a matter of minutes, the invited guests start to flood in. The audience wait,
cups of coffee in hand,
as the last minute girls from other shows are hurried into make up chairs backstage for an ultra quick simultaneous hair and makeup turnaround
And then the lights go up, and we are off: