Backstage at a Fashion Show

Models changing
Alija/Getty Images

Gorgeous collections, elegant models, and glorious crowds—fashion shows are a big glamorous party. From the front row, this appears to be true. Fashion shows seem like an effortlessly chic way to bring together models, designers, celebrities, editors, and the latest styles. However, there is a battle raging behind the curtains.

Despite the chain of models flowing up and down the runway, fashion shows are a very chaotic endeavor to produce. Behind the scenes, there’s an army of people working frantically to make sure the show goes off without a hitch. It takes months of preparation, tons of hard work, and an experienced hand (or two) to coordinate it all.

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 large supporting items, such as the stage, lighting, and sound are set up well in advance. But the moments before the show are a flurry of last-minute activity and 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 lose traction while walking in outfits and shoes that are not necessarily designed for walking.

Last-Minute Changes

Fashion shows rarely finish without a hitch of some sort. Sometimes models are late. Or, they show up late, covered in glitter and hairspray from a previous show, needing to be cleaned up and re-done in a matter of minutes. And sometimes, models don’t show up at all because they got a better offer moments before the show.

It’s not uncommon for a VIP to show up unannounced and demand a front-row seat for an already packed show. A stylist might 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—it'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

A fashion show backstage is packed with models, designers, managers, stylists, makeup artists, hairdressers, publicists, and other fashion elite who are there to ensure a fabulous show. Photographers will be trying to squeeze in a few dozen shots and be politely shoving each other around to document the event. 

Backstage passes during the show allow fans to see what their favorite models are up to backstage, learn how to get the hottest runway looks, and to see how it all comes together (and hopefully score a selfie with them).

And of course, despite the madhouse atmosphere, models are trying to have fun. Hop on to any model’s Instagram and you’re sure to see some wacky faces, some fiercely glam looks, and some unforgettable photo-bombs.