6 Things You Should Know About Working Backstage For Fashion Week
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is the most important time of the year on the fashion calendar. From New York to London, Milan and Paris, the trends vary far and wide throughout the seasons. However, what is always constant is the chaos backstage. I’ve worked for a few Fashion Week shows and there are some key things you should know before gracing the backstage scene.
If you plan on working backstage on a seasonal basis, it’s important to know the dos and don’ts, so you get hired or asked to volunteer the next time around. Working for Fashion Week is always a good look on your resume and if you are in college, it’s a fairly easy way to accumulate school credits, not to mention the ‘perks’ that may present itself in the form of a check or backstage goodies.
Whether you are working on the hair and makeup team or a general assistant for the design or PR crew, here are some tips (especially if you are a first timer) to get you through the insanity!.
1. Be on time
This should go without saying, but punctuality in any job is of the utmost importance. At Fashion Week, it’s even more imperative! Every single second before the show is important, and if you’re even a couple minutes late, it could make a difference and reflect poorly on you. If subways are notoriously late, leave absurdly early, just make sure you get there on time!
Before the show it’s imperative to have all the logistics on the show’s call time. Don’t be afraid to shoot your boss an email to find out the location, call time and other important details if you haven’t received the memo by the day before. Showing up on time not only shows that you are a professional, but almost immediately displays your commitment to the job and that’s always a good look.
2. Walk with your own snacks/refreshments
Though backstage is usually loaded with refreshments, it gets super crowded and crazy and grabbing a quick bite on the table easily turns into mission impossible. When you bring your own refreshments, you avoid the hassle of having to leave your work station and save time you may have spent food hunting.
Always come prepared! And in this case, it means stuffing your pockets with mini bagels.
3. Do only what you are asked, and stick to your task
Never be too quick to take on tasks that weren’t delegated to you. At Fashion Week, everybody’s jobs and tasks are so specific that chances are you can’t help that much anyway. Making a good impression and showing your multi-tasking abilities are important, but only do what you are asked.
If you are working for the PR team and someone in hair and makeup needs assistance with something, clear it with the head of PR or find someone who can better assist them in the area. Only if you have completed your current tasks with extra time to spare should you assist in such areas. Also, if there is an urgent matter stick, just be ready to jump on board to assist in any way you can, in case you’re asked to.
4. Stay composed at all times
It’s normal to want to bask in the moment, especially if you are a newbie, but fight the feeling and maintain your composure! When you are really passionate about fashion being backstage can feel like a dream come true and emotions can run wild, but holding it together is imperative.
First, try not to be too overwhelmed with excitement especially when A-list guests like actors, actresses, supermodels, musicians and reputable bloggers make their way backstage. They aren’t there to see you so keep it moving and don’t even think about asking for autographs or pictures.
Secondly, when tough tasks present themselves, don’t panic. Take deep breaths, stay focused and execute the task given no matter how difficult or easy it may be. If you don’t know what to do, just ask for help.
5. Absolutely NO PICTURE taking. Unless allowed to do so
Backstage is chaotic bliss. The thick crowds of media and A-listers create a massive frenzy. Designer interviews are taking place, supermodels stroll pass you nonchalantly and suddenly your hands are itching to capture it all on film or in images. In an age where social media platforms are on a huge rise, capturing those moments for your Instagram feels like a necessity.
Well, you’ll have to exhibit a mass amount of self-control. Taking photos backstage is usually banned for volunteers or interns unless there is a direct order from the PR team for you to capture behind the scenes shots for the company’s social media platforms. Feel out your surroundings also, not because someone else is doing it means that it’s allowed. However, if you get permission to take some backstage footage, go for it, but pictures with celebrities or the designer are still definitely prohibited. It’s a bummer, I know.
6. Never leave until you are dismissed
As a fashion week intern or volunteer, it’s good to linger and help clean up when the show is over. You aren’t expected to leave right away. Stick around and ask questions like, “Is there anything else you need me to do?” or “Do you need any assistance with this?” This shows your full commitment to the team and makes you memorable. By the time the next season comes around, you’ll be one of the first people to get the call and that’s exactly the kind of lasting impression you want.
Though these tips are vital to surviving fashion week, the experience is totally priceless and there is so much you can learn. It’s a great form of networking and helps build a great skill set and experience base. You’ll learn how to be quick and think strategically in tricky situations. If you are serious about fashion, you have got to be serious about Fashion Week. So get prepped and see you next season!