Styling backstage at NYFW shows

Benjamin Achilles, Contributing Writer

The backstage of Fashion Week is like working in a factory.

Hot air from cigarette-breathing models; loud noise from hangers sliding along clothing racks, a hectic setting lit by the flashes of cameras.

A place where everyone gets paid very little to no money, yet loves to run the show. I’ve worked as a wardrobe assistant for the past two NYFW seasons and I have the inside scoop about slaving backstage.

I’ve worked for free with the promise of it being a “resume booster.”

I have stuck this experience on my styling resume, and no, it hasn’t landed me any internships.

Most of the dressers backstage at shows I’ve worked are FIT students. Myself and other students get to work at shows by working through PR companies which run backstage shows for low budget fashion companies like Leanne Marshal or Marcel Ostertag.

The models, depending on the show, are usually signed to agencies. The make up artists usually work under an umbrella company. And everyone gathers towards the head designer, stylist or company running the backstage arena. They obey every order to make magic happen for the audience outside.

This fashion week I will have worked two shows, but the last one I worked was the V Files show. There were five designers, more than 50 models, a dresser for each, a makeup artist for half, 20 dancers, musicians and performers and everyone else from the company cramped into a photo studio, which is about the size of a Marillac classroom. There were so many dressers, the people who ran the backstage (the company mystyleunleashed), couldn’t organize everyone. Because of that, after I dressed everyone, I left to watch the show in the audience.

Besides the frustrations, I’ve enjoyed getting the chance to be side by-side with other students. Touching the clothes before they are in stores, meeting some models I could work with for styling and getting to see what a show is like behind the scenes has given me a small window into the life of a fashion company.

Maybe if I get to work backstage for a larger company like Tommy Hilfiger instead of Concept Korea, it could be less of a mess. For now, I know the fashion world is bloody, and no one wants to know your name unless you truly have something to offer.