As many of you know by now, New York fashion week is one of the busiest times of the year. The normal hustle and bustle of the city is taken to the next level during this chaotic time of the year. The city is buzzing with fashionistas, reporters, stylists, bloggers, celebrities and of course, designers. NYC is one of the fashion capitals of the world and is ahead of the game when it comes to the hottest trends but during NYFW, the streets are flooded with the who’s who of fashion. It seems as if everyone trades in their sneakers for stilettos! When you read about NYFW, you get all the ins and outs of the designers and their latest creations but rarely do you read about what actually goes on behind the scenes. Have you ever stopped to think about what goes on backstage before the show begins? Models, makeup and mayhem! I’m going to give you a sneak peak behind the curtain of one of my favorite designers, Cushnie et Ochs!
Cushnie et Ochs was founded by Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs after graduating from Parsons School of Design. It takes many years for any designer to become known and established but Cushnie et Ochs did this rather quickly as they were only founded in 2008. I personally love their designs because they are sophisticated yet elegant and sensual. Cusnie et Ochs published their first ad campaign in 2011 and received an incredible amount of recognition when First Lady Michelle Obama wore one of there dresses to a holiday party and again on The Late Show in 2016. More and more A-list celebs have begun wearing Cushnie et Ochs which has greatly increased their popularity!
Now that you know a little more about the designers, lets get back to behind the scenes. There is an army of people working day in and day out to make sure any fashion show goes off without a glitch. It takes months of preparations and hard work in order to make a fashion show look effortlessly chic. Generally, the call time for the models to be in hair and makeup is at least three hours before the show. Hair and makeup arrives even earlier in order to begin setting up. This time frame gives you an idea of how long it takes to get everything in order but it doesn’t prepare you for what you see when you walk backstage…absolute madness! In order to get backstage before a show, you have to be invited or admitted through the press team of the designer and show your credentials prior to entering. Everyone backstage has a pass stating the designers name and area that they are authorized to enter (security is tight).
There is so much that goes on backstage…there essentially four different teams of glam working backstage; hair, makeup, nails and styling. Each team has a lead artist that meets with the designer days prior to the show in order to decide on what each model will be wearing and how they will be styled. The artists do a mock-up version on a model in order to make sure the designer is happy with the results or if changes need to made. Once hair, makeup and nail designs are decided, each lead artist prepares their team ahead of time on what will need to be accomplished the day of the show.
Each team leader has to constantly check in on their team in order to make sure the glam process is going smooth and the models look flawless the day of the show. Keep in mind that every single model has to have the exact same makeup, nail design and hairstyle so as you can imagine, communication between teams is the key to success. Backstage glam is quite a production in itself!
One section is reserved for the stylists and the other section is behind a curtain, reserved for the beauty teams. As I walked behind the curtain, all I could see were rows of models. Some models were getting their hair styled, others were getting their toes painted and some models were getting hair, makeup and nails done all at the same time. The best way to describe the process is by saying it is complete organized chaos! One of the nail techs was telling me that they were running behind because of one the models was running late from their previous show. When this happens (it happens more often than you would think) it sets the entire team behind. Some models even come in wearing the makeup and hair from their previous runway show so they have to be completely stripped down with a fresh face and clean hair. This also causes a major delay. When it comes to fashion shows, timing is everything.
While the beauty chaos is happening, there is another kind of madness occurring on the other side of the curtain. The styling team is franticly running around in order to make sure each of the designer’s looks are properly accessorized. The lead stylist and team are preparing garment bags and laying out shoes in front of each models rolling rack. The majority models have a rolling rack labeled with their name and number so they know the order of their outfits. Some models change up to three times during a runway show so everything has to be in order prior to the start of the show. The stylists also line the floor with tape so the models know where to line up before the show begins. Although models go in for a fitting prior to the show, there are always last minute changes. It is not uncommon for stylists to be altering dresses or changes the models accessories seconds before they hit the runway. You see why things can get a little hectic behind the scenes of a fashion show? Oh and don’t forget about the hair and makeup…hairspray and blush continue to be added as the models line up and the lights begin to dim for the start of the show. All of this is going on while stage lighting, sound and construction are being arranged. As I mentioned before, it is organized madness but nonetheless, it is madness.
Overall, this was a fabulous New York Fashion Week! I enjoyed having the opportunity to go backstage at Cushnie et Ochs and loved attending all of the incredible shows. Although I love seeing the latest work from various designers, my favorite shows were John Paul Ataker, Veronica Beard, Carmen Marc Valvo, Brock Collection and Jonathan Simkhai. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for their collections in February. Until next NYFW!