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Several times a year mass media is inundated with images from new season fashion shows. Some for fashion week in Paris or Milan, others for charity events or festivals. While we flick through the latest runway looks that have been translated into wearable trends in magazines or click through street-style galleries from the front row, we often forget that someone, somewhere, has the job of putting these phenomenons together.
Liz Golding is the Styling Director for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival (MBFF) in Brisbane, Australia. Her role encompasses all that is going on behind the scenes, from model selection, approaching designers and handling the promotional media, right down to the styled looks, hair and makeup seen on the runways. Here, Golding gives Dalliance Magazine the insiders guide to putting together a runway show.
Golding explains that before the years forthcoming show the Festival Director and herself approach designers and brands via social media, the festival mailing list and directly in order to establish a list of interested parties. This list is then presented to the festival Advisory Board for approval, who oversee who gets to show, who doesn’t and what other designers or brands they’d like to see alongside the established participants.
“Sometimes new designers get rejected because they are clearly not ready. The Advisory Board always throws more designer and brand names into the mix for me to approach and see if they are interested.” Golding identifies this time as one of the busiest, as tickets go on sale shortly after the lineup is confirmed.
Shortly afterwards, models are selected from a mass casting. As festivals such as MBFF are group shows, the brands and designers, while trying to achieve their individual ‘look’, must select models that are cohesive with everyone showing. Model selection generally comes down to booking those who fit the clothes, as there is an industry standard sample size.
“If designers have larger or smaller samples, then we have issues with accommodating them with models in the same show as the others,” says Golding.
“Each brand likes a different “look” of model and sometimes I have to explain to them that we only do group shows and so we try to have some of the look for each of the brands but it is clearly not possible to have 16 redheads for them if no-one else wants redheads. It is a constant balancing act.”
Golding explains that models are allocated to shows depending upon the needs of the designers. Running lists of the models are then written and supplied to the designers in order of appearance, However Golding goes on to say “this does get changed slightly at times but it gives them early warning of the shoes sizes needed and the look that is possible. The fittings change this list too.”
As far as hair and makeup go, these creative teams are generally supplied by the cosmetic labels sponsoring the show. Golding works with the coordinators and team leaders of these crews to ensure they achve the desired ‘looks’. The teams then do a ‘dry run’ and send photos to Golding to be approved or tweaked.
“I am the communicator with the creative teams to tweak the look and get it where it needs to be. The festival director Lindsay Bennett
looks over all the hair and makeup and rejects some until we get it right for the overall look and feel for the show.”
Golding says that while music and location are incredibly important to the success of a show, so are the models, clothes and accessories. The producers work with the festival director to get the right music, length and timing for each show.
“The location is always an issue, we need to seat many people and we need to be able to have the event run well no matter what the weather. It is challenging.”
Golding explains that over her 28 years of experience, each show has a different purpose. Some are for charity or entertainment value while others are to drive retail sales or introduce new designers and brands to the media and general public, some are even just for fun or promoting the cosmetic products.
As Golding’s guide suggests, a fashion runway show is similar to any other form of live entertainment. It takes months of planning, selection, arrangement and juggling in order to put together a show that not only fulfils the needs of the host, but those participating. A form of entertainment for the style set, stories, themes and atmosphere play into the success of a designer or collection.