Today I want to share with you a little bit of my fashion week experience behind the scenes.
As you may or may not know, a million different parts go into producing a successful (five minutes or so) long show--casting the right models, styling the appropriate outfits on the models, hair and make up, dressing and directing the models, show space and art direction, public relations, sound, light, photographers, and everything in between. This season I had the opportunity to play a small role in the casting world of this enormous empire apart from the few shows I was able to attend and just enjoy with my blogger cap on. I wanted to get a taste for what this part of the industry entailed apart from my normal design bubble and I must admit that the emotional roller coaster that took place during the week may not be worth the load for some. As I checked in models, assessed if they were the right fit for our designers, and handled some logistics to work out schedules for the beauties who walked in and out of our doors all day, I learned another thing or two about fashion and us human beings.
The actual day to day of a casting assistant is not difficult. Besides a little bit of common sense here and there, the job is mostly administrative like organizing model selections, tracking them down when they're late to a client, confirming them for shows (which at times, requires a little back end work when working with some of the more competitive models to walk our shows) and so on. What did make it challenging was when models showed up really late and threw off the calendar for the day or a client was dissatisfied with some of the great models who were being sent their way because one nostril appeared bigger than the other to which we needed to stress "they're on their way" and "both nostrils are perfectly symmetrical, I swear."
I think the biggest challenge though might have been being in the environment itself because at the end of the day, the job is all about meeting people's expectations. And when it comes to meeting people's expectations, you may or may not succumb to a certain level of pressure. And once pressure has got the best of you, fear has become your motivation. And when fear is your motivation, you're already setting yourself up for disappointment.
Most outside of the industry presume fashion as this glamorous world, but let's get one thing straight. It's not. Fashion, as I've come to understand, is a world full of individuals fighting their way through people to cling to a certain identity (not too different from a lot of other industries we know of today). In a pressure filled environment such as New York Fashion Week, I noticed this to be much more apparent in the anger and agitation that was being tossed back and forth in and between the different show teams when things wouldn't necessarily go according to plan. I guess it's our natural human instinct to pass fault on to another, as how easy it is to blame anyone but ourselves for the smallest errors is undeniable. And at the end of the day, it's about a reputation we all want to carry, an image we want to uphold for ourselves.
What I've come to learn from being in this environment is when someone unleashes their anger out on you, all you should really do is respond with a jolly laugh. Because sometimes, there's just nothing more powerful than a good laugh since it carries the ability to shift the atmosphere from one of fear and agitation to a peculiar sense of peace and stability. And by then, everyone will hopefully be able to zoom out of their temporary agitation and see the bigger picture. That everything is going to be okay, that everything is going to work out, and we're going to have a great show like we always do. We all have a laugh. Use it.
Don't get me wrong; working fashion week is not all doom and gloom. To be a part of what goes on behind the scenes is thrilling. Had I not experienced these moments, I would not have the higher level of respect I now have for those working in this sector of the industry. But would I ever do it again? Probably not. I think I would much rather kick back and enjoy the show
...from the outside.