We’ve all seen pictures of the shows (or, if you’re one of the lucky ones, seen the looks from the front row), but not many people get to see what goes on behind the scenes during New York Fashion Week. So today I sat down with New York stylist, designer, and fashion show producer Kendall Shai to hear the inside scoop.
Q: How would you describe NYFW?
A: Fashion week is the week I live for, but afterwards I’m exhausted after no sleep and little time to eat. But hey you can sleep when you’re dead!
Q: What work did you do during this past fashion week?
A: I was an Event Ambassador for IMG and helped facilitate front of house guest check-in. I was also on the backstage production team for the Tracy Reese show and the Michael Bastian show.
Q: What do backstage production teams do?
A: They make sure that everything is properly coordinated and runs smoothly before the models hit the runway. This includes checking-in models, making sure all the models get in hair and make-up, coordinating models for show run-throughs, dressing the models, and making sure the models are in the proper order before they walk the runway. Basically a lot of running around before the show!
Q: What goes into preparing for fashion week?
A: Preparation for fashion week starts the day the runway show is over! Designers start planning how to be bigger and better for the next season.
Q: What moments from NYFW are people talking about the most?
A: Tracy Reese’s show made NYFW history this season by having a live cat walk the runway! Perez Hilton even wrote about it!
Also, Betsy Johnson debuted her new active wear line called BJ kicks A. Since the collection only had about 16 looks, Betsy increased the length of the show by having all the models do a workout/dance routine on the runway while she acted as their aerobic instructor. It was a cute idea and interesting concept, but nothing surprising considering that Betsy Johnson still has flair at 70 years old!
Q: Were there any fashion emergencies?
A: Not this year! Though fashion emergencies do happen, NYFW isn’t the place where they usually occur. By the time the show comes around there has been so much planning and back up planning that there is nothing that can’t be fixed right away. Also, you are working with people that do their jobs so well that there is little room for error (knock on wood).
Q: What crazy things go on behind the scenes?
A: Every year we always have show crashers, but this year there was a girl who was a model crasher. She pretended to be one of the models walking the show, checked in backstage, sat in hair and makeup, and even walked the catwalk during the run-through. She was finally caught when the real model showed up late. Security then escorted the model crasher off the property and she is now banned from fashion week.
Q: What does the public not know about fashion week?
A: You cannot buy tickets to any NYFW show. This is an invite only event held for fashion insiders, influencers, and celebrities. The general public can get into the tents, but they are not allowed into the actual show venues. We do get the occasional “don’t you know who I am?” person without a ticket. Our response is “J. Alexander from America’s Next Top Model just scanned his ticket, so clearly you need one too.”
Q: How do you choose your outfits during fashion week?
A: You need to remember three things: one statement piece, comfort, and all black! When working fashion week all black attire is standard, so statement pieces like a fur vest or necklace really boost your style and help you stand out. Comfort is important because you are on your feet for at least 12-14 hours a day, so running around in heels would be a nightmare! Heels are for parties after the show wraps.
Q: The work you’re doing now sounds incredible. What are you goals for the future?
A: The best thing about my work is that every job is a learning experience and a door to the next opportunity. One of the most rewarding things as a freelancer is to be asked to work with the same team for another project. So next year I hope to be working with some of the same teams on even bigger and better shows!
In 5 years I hope to be running my own business and be hired by New York designers as their creative director and show producer to bring their visions to the runway.
Q: For us California girls that couldn’t make it out to New York for fashion week, what trends should we expect for fall?
A: Fur, animal print, and embellishments were huge this season on the runway. Beautiful things are coming this fall!
Q: What style advice do you have for LA Wanderlust readers?
A: It’s not about what you wear, it’s how you wear it! You can always buy clothes but you can never buy style and confidence!
Thank you for sharing your NYFW experiences! For more information on Kendall Shai, click here.