Ever dreamed about being behind the scenes at fashion week? As a real-life college student who has worked as a dresser at New York Fashion Week shows and lived to tell about it, I'm here to tell you that it need not be a dream.
How to Get Your Foot in the Door
The hardest part of getting involved with a runway show is often the initial approach—where do you even begin? My advice would be to pick several designers you like and start reaching out in any way you can. It's a busy time of year, so don't take a lack of response personally, but keep in mind that many companies, especially smaller ones, are in desperate need of extra hands.
Do some internet sleuthing to find the most direct contact you can (hello, LinkedIn!), and get ready to craft a thoughtful but concise email. Keep it short, but show off some knowledge of the company (real thing I said to cofounder Alan Eckstein in my first email to him: "I'm still obsessing over the print on your 'Lily' dress from Resort '15!"). A little colloquial, as I look back on it, but hey—flattery rarely hurts.
Get Involved ASAP
The sooner you get involved in the process, the better! Ask if you can help out with castings and fittings, so that when showtime comes around, you aren't still introducing yourself to the team. Plus, it helps to form a sense of camaraderie with the models. When I worked at the Timo Weiland men's spring 2016 show, I had a blast at the castings, showed my dedication to the designers by coming in on a Saturday, and joked around enough with the models that they remembered me when it came time for the presentation. These pre-show preparations are a great opportunity to demonstrate your ability to think on your feet.
Make Yourself Useful
Has it been a few hours since the last snack break? Does everyone seem in desperate need of coffee? Don't miss your chance to rejuvenate the group! Being an essential part of the team doesn't require any grand gestures: just be sure to volunteer for every task that's put up for grabs, and be in tune to what the people running the show want and need. Bonus points if you can track down more safety pins before they run out.
Enjoy Your Insider Status
Fashion shows are cool! No need to pretend you're above geeking out over a particularly lovely pair of pants, a model that's killing the off-duty look, or a celeb sighting. Just make sure your enthusiasm doesn't take away from your work. And keep in mind that steaming those white pants for a fifth time will seem worth it when everyone is victorious and relieved after the finale. You never know what some good, hard work at a runway show will lead to. An after party? An invite to future shows? A free T-shirt? A job? There are no guarantees, but the possibilities are infinite.
In need of more insider advice? Snap me at @abbeymaxbauer!