Backstage at a Fashion Show

Models changing
••• Alija/Getty Images

Gorgeous collections, gorgeous models, gorgeous crowds—fashion shows are like one big glamorous party, right?  Well...not quite. From the front row, yes, fashion shows seem like an effortlessly chic way to bring together models, designers, celebrities, editors, and of course the latest styles. But have you ever wondered what goes on backstage?

The truth is, despite the glam factor, fashion shows are one of the most demanding events to produce. Behind the scenes, there’s an army of people working day and night to make sure the show goes off without a hitch. It takes months and months of preparation and tons of hard work. In fact, the planning for the next fashion show begins as soon as the last one ends!

Not All Glitz and Glam

Even Carolina Herrera admitted fashions shows aren’t all glitz and glam. As she told Vogue, “The fashion shows are so fabulous, but you go backstage and you see what is really happening: You see the work.”

Most of the big stuff, like the stage construction, lighting, and sound, are set up well in advance. But the moments before the show are a flurry of last-minute activity and, well, madness. Organized madness, but madness nonetheless.

So, what really happens behind the scenes of a fashion show?  

Quick Fixes

Even though designers have been preparing for months in advance, there are always last-minute fixes. Stylists work under pressure to make sure everything is absolutely perfect, even if that means hemming a skirt moments before a model walks onto the runway or quickly scoring a pair of slippery heels to make sure a model won’t pull a Naomi Campbell, circa 1993.

Last Minute Changes

A fashion show is a whole lot of unknowns. Sometimes models are late. Or, they show up late and covered in glitter and hairspray from a previous show and need to be cleaned up and re-done in a matter of minutes. And sometimes, models don’t show up at all because they got an offer from a bigger name.

It’s not uncommon either for a VIP to show up unannounced and demand a front-row seat for an already packed show or for a stylist to reconsider her shoe choice 30 seconds before a model is supposed to hit the runway.

Is it any wonder why things can get a little frantic behind the scenes of a fashion show?

A Whole Lot of Running Around

When it comes to fashion shows, timing is everything. And if that means a model has to run to the catwalk to make sure she’s in line or sprint backstage (in 5-inch heels, no less) to change outfits before she’s due to walk again, well, that’s just another day at the office. 

Fashion weeks are even more hectic. Sometimes models will have to crisscross the city to get from one show to the next, leaving mere minutes to get scrubbed clean and start all over again.

Photographs Galore

Backstage is always packed with models, designers, managers, stylists, makeup artists, hairdressers, publicists, and other fashion elite who are there to ensure a fabulous show. Oh, and then you also have to squeeze in a few dozen photographers who are all jostling to document the big event. 

Designers have caught on that their fans are dying to get an all-access pass to something they may never get to experience in person. Fans want to see what their favorite models get up to backstage, to learn how to get the hottest runway looks, and to see how it all comes together. Basically, they just want to get a taste of all that mysterious backstage action!

And of course, despite the madhouse atmosphere, there’s always time for a few selfies. Hop on to any model’s Instagram and you’re sure to see some wacky faces, some fiercely glam looks, and some unforgettable photobombs.