The Life of a Model During Fashion Week

Catwalk Runway Show Event
Goran Jakus Photography / Getty Images

Fashion Week to models is similar to what the Olympic Games are to athletes. It is a chance for models to showcase their talent, travel the world, and make a name for themselves.  Both take months and even years of preparation and hard work to get to the ultimate moment of arriving on the world stage.

For everyone involved from models, designers, show producers, model agents, makeup artists, stylists, photographers, magazine editors, buyers, and even musicians, Fashion Week is often a frenzied and exciting time without much sleep. But, the frenzy doesn't just begin with the shows, it starts many months before with models attending casting calls, fittings and rehearsals.

What, When, and Where

Fashion Week happens twice a year in each of the four main fashion capitals of the world: New York, London, Milan, and Paris, respectively. During each Fashion Week, countless shows from iconic and up-and-coming designers take place.

It all began with New York Fashion Week in 1943, followed by Paris Fashion Week in 1945, Milan Fashion Week in 1958, and finally, London Fashion Week which was established in 1994.  While other major cities have their own Fashion Weeks, these four cities are considered the “Big Four” of the fashion world, and they get the most attention and drive the biggest crowds and celebrities.

In February and March, Fashion Week showcases styles for the upcoming fall/winter collections. In September and October shows for next year’s spring/summer collections take place. Doing the shows so far in advance gives buyers the opportunity to purchase and plan for upcoming seasons, and gives fashion editors a sneak peek at new trends.  

Backstage to the Runway

Before each show, models attend final fittings with the designers who will make final determinations on what the model will be wearing and exactly how they will be presenting it. Once the outfits are selected and fitted, they'll be hung on a rack, usually with a picture of the model and any other special instructions. Designers may also hang a "goody bag" on each rack that will include things like a nude pantie or thong, makeup remover, razors, deodorant, and other hygiene products, just in case the model forgot to bring some essentials. 

Shows take place during all hours of the day and night, so many models are working from before the sun comes up until long after it goes down. There are early call times for hair and makeup, and there are often extravagant after-parties that models are expected to attend that are crucial for networking in the modeling and fashion world.

Since most models walk several shows a day during the week, there is always a mad dash to get to each and every show on time; and if one of the shows happens to run late it can cause chaos for all the other shows scheduled afterward. Models often run on minimal sleep and only have time to eat and catch up with their agents while they’re traveling to the next show. 

Part of being a model is always looking his or her best, which is hard to do when you’re running on little sleep, so a healthy diet and lots of water is essential.  Luckily, models have some of the best hair and makeup people in the world who also work wildly long hours to help models look their absolute best.

Although most people only see the glitzy part of Fashion Week, hours and hours of work by hundreds of people go into every single show even though they only last for a few minutes. Fashion and modeling are no doubt exciting industries to work in, but they are also industries that require a lot of hard work, preparation, and dedication.