Student Reflects On NYFW Experience

Anna McFillin, Contributing Writer

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The red carpet was rolled out, the seats were filled and the lights were shining on the runway. Music blasted through the speakers as the models assumed their positions on the side of the stage. I stood on the stairs behind them with both arms full — one with dresses and the other with heels. I had to be ready for the models coming off of the runway to do a quick outfit change and head right back out. What I was not prepared for though, was finding myself following the models down the runway at the end of the Journey Fashion Festival on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

At the Journey Fashion Festival, hosted by Malena Belafonte, there was a segment of the show that included a video and a dance by children, showcasing their solidarity for ending gun violence. At the end of the show, the cast, crew and I got to walk the runway in solidarity with the youth.

During this show, I was designer Minan Wong’s assistant. I aided her in dressing the models and with slight adjustments and alterations. I was in charge of orchestrating the models’ quick changes and had to know who was wearing what and when, by order of runway walk.

This is my second season working New York Fashion Week (NYFW), and it has been a dream come true. I have learned and experienced all the contributing factors a fashion show has. I started working on NYFW as a volunteer and took as many in-between “fashion season” opportunities as I could.

After working my first season in the fall, in the off-season I immersed myself in the fashion culture, keeping up with emerging models and designers and learning all I could about the industry.  From the connections I made working the Journey Fashion Festival for two seasons, I was invited to work for pay as a venue assistant (VA) down at Spring Studios in Tribeca on the last day of fashion week.

Spring Studios during NYFW is home to supermodels like Bella Hadid and Paris Hilton, who walked for designers such as Jeremy Scott and Anna Sui. Already feeling starstruck, I was committed to being the best VA I could be.

The event I worked at Spring Studios was a fashion presentation, which is different from a typical fashion runway show. The models stand in place while the audience walks around them.

Fashion for Peace was a fashion presentation on Feb. 13 where  models stood on large white boxes with various designers names on each box. They were presenting sustainable fashion by sustainable designers, and were accompanied by famous Indian spiritual leader, Sadhguru. The presentation called for action to change the materials that designers in leading countries like America use to make their lines.

During this presentation, I made sure that guests were getting the full experience and that any questions they had could be answered. I helped maintain the space and aided in the set up and clean up.

My experiences during  NYFW were eye-opening, exciting and stressful.The days were long and full of hard work, but so worth it in the end. These designers are artists, and they have a vision for their work and how they want to show it off to the world. Being a part of NYFW means you get to help fulfill the dreams and visions that these people have, while fulfilling your own dream of being a part of fashion week.

Working at NYFW means you accept the “glam” and the “not-so-glam” work, and you do it all with focus and integrity. Whether you are a designer’s assistant, a venue assistant, a part of the set up, clean up, ticketing or check in, you are a part of the dream.

No matter what the scale of the fashion show or presentation is, in this industry, you absolutely have to be on top of your game and willing to help the producers and fashion leaders in every way possible. Be ready for anything, such as unexpected weather changes, a model shortage, missing clothes, or a designer changing their whole mind on how they want the space to be set up. Flexibility and taking steps outside of your comfort zone to learn new things are key.

And be ready to walk down the runway yourself, because you just never know.

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