This Is What It’s Really Like Working Backstage At New York Fashion Week

When you see a runway show, either in person or on YouTube, it’s always a beautiful vision. The runway is a crisp white, the models flawlessly strut in beautiful garments and the audience is in awe. But while the audience may see a perfectly executed production, a frantic staff is working amidst organized chaos.

The presence of dressers is an integral component of fashion shows. They ensure that the models are wearing the right looks and get changed in enough time to switch into their second or third outfits. They’re the ones that guarantee that garment mishaps don’t happen, like Gigi Hadid‘s recent runway walk sans right heel. Here’s what it was like working behind the scenes in the fashion capitals of the world.

1. It’s important to understand the brand’s aesthetic.

NAERSI is a Chinese brand well-known in Asia, but it’s set to make waves in the Western sphere. The garments in the spring/summer 2018 collection are detail-oriented and mostly oversized with the brand’s philosophy being “dressing up the life of intellectual women with beauty, confidence and young state of minds.”

2. You will forget that you haven’t taken a breath or sat down in a couple hours.

And you’ll be okay with it! So much will be happening at once that you’ll feel you need clones of you to get everything done. Adrenaline will kick in once you hear the guests arriving and you’re only minutes from the show beginning.

3. The venue isn’t always a typical studio.

While fashion shows can stereotypically take place at a studio, venues are constantly being revamped by designers willing to go the extra mile. NAERSI’s recent show took place at the American Museum of Natural History, right under a model of a blue whale, the largest animal currently alive.

4. Celebrities will grace the front row, but you won’t get to meet them.

Word was buzzing that Gossip Girl queen Leighton Meester and NBA player DeMarre Carroll were guests, which only motivated us to put our all into our work. For all you diehard Gossip Girl fans, Leighton even sang karaoke with fellow co-star Alice Callahan Thompson, who played Jessica, after the show.

5. Working as a dresser isn’t as frivolous as it sounds.

While you might think models could just dress themselves, dressers are a key aspect for saving time and making sure the right look is worn right. Their role entails guaranteeing clothing isn’t worn backwards or inside out. Dressers are assigned a model and their looks, sometimes up to three, and they have to be knowledgable about all the tiny details from how the belt is properly tied to whether the collar is popped or if the shirt is buttoned up all the way. Touch ups will be done on the garments before they hit the runway, but dressers are basically helping set the final draft.

6. Backstage workers won’t be able to see the actual show.

You’ll be too busy ensuring that the guests see a great show that there’s simply no time to sneak a peek behind the curtain. From re-steaming garments to changing models’ looks in time, everything else is background noise once the show commences.

7. It’ll be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have.

Once the finale walk ended and the last few models exited the runway, we all let out a cathartic cheer. We had made it and the numerous weeks of preparation had become a reality. While this might have been a normal routine for some, just another Sunday night in New York City, it was a memory I knew I wouldn’t forget. It had only been my first show, but it wouldn’t be my last.

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