My fashion week experience during the Fall of 2014 was one of the best experiences of my life. If you’re attending the Fashion Institute of Technology or plan to, volunteering for a designer during Fashion Week is a MUST.
Most freshman girls wait in line ALL NIGHT for a spot with top designers for Fashion Week. I, however, preferred to sleep. The next day, (when everyone was still waiting for the clock to strike 12 (noon) so they could officially sign up for Fashion Week, I was heading to class. As soon as my class was over, I went to the volunteer center, along with many other girls, to see if there were any open spots still available. Thankfully, I was able to sign up for a designer after a class on Thursday!
At first I was a little discouraged as I not only had never heard of the designer, but also had no idea how to get around the city quite yet.
But nevertheless, Thursday came and I hurried out of class to put on a black dress and black flats (we were required to wear all black and strictly told not to wear heels). I ended up using google maps on my phone to find my way there and once I finally arrived, we were all headed downstairs into a small lounge area. Soon enough, most of us were there and although I had signed up to work in dressing, we all started packing up the goody-bags that were to be given to each guest.
After this, he introduced himself. The designer himself walked down in the most glorious way possible (to a girl who grew up surrounding by farms) and it felt like I was in a movie. He casually walked down the steps in a fashionable yet unorthodox suit holding the most adorable golden pomeranian dog.
“Hello, I’m Loris Diran. And this is Gypsy.”
This man was not only just fashionable and personable, but he was genuinely pretty.
From here, he brought us into the room where the show would be held. He talked with a few of the staff members before directing us to set up chairs in rows for the guests that would show up within just a few hours.
After this, he, and Gypsy adorably following, went upstairs to see how the models were looking, showing us the room where they were getting ready. Shortly after this, the staff member that had been overseeing the process of the prep room, dripping with sweat, gave my new acquaintance Sarah and I $20, begging us to go to the nearest Duane Reade to pick up some cases of water for the models, hair dressers, and makeup artists.
Remember, I had only been in the city for a few short weeks before this so I wasn’t quite sure where to go. Thankfully, Sarah and I found the nearest Duane Reade and each, struggling in our dresses, carried a large case of water back to the show and dropped them off to the extremely thankful models and staff members. Oh. Right. Did I mention that they happened to be male models? Yeah. This was Loris Diran’s first major men’s line (to my knowledge). When I had googled him before the show, every line had been female so I was expecting gowns and beautiful, tall, women models. I was mistaken but not necessarily with disappointment.
Right after we dropped them off, we joined the other girls assigned to “dressing” and stood in the small hallway leading to prep room. We hardly had two minutes to gather our strength from carrying the water when Loris Diran walked up to me and looked straight into my soul, telling me that four pairs of pants for the show needed to be picked up from the dry cleaners. I took his money and desperately got Sarah to come with me on an adventure once again.
With only about 30 minutes until the show, we ran to the dry cleaners using the very vague directions we were given and picked up the clothes. We ran back and were directed on where to bring them and to have them steamed for the show. By this time, the stylist, intern, designer, and a few others knew who we were and were thanking us. However, our work was not done as it was time to dress the models.
Since we proved to be good at following orders, the stylist did not assign us to dress a model. Instead, he had us stand by the mood board and oversee the dressing process; making sure that each model was dressed accordingly and sending them to him once they were dressed. We also helped the French marketing manager of the Cynthia Gale jewelry company distribute jewelry to the models. Unfortunately, whoever packed the jewelry for him put all of the thin-chained necklaces into the same bag so Sarah and I worked on untangling them. We managed to untangle a few and put them on the necks of giant models (which was difficult for 5’2″ me).
The models and other volunteers went downstairs to the runway and we were left in charge of guarding the prep room, making sure nobody unauthorized came in and snatched things. We used this time to talk to our new French marketer friend as we untangled his jewelry and he got us iced coffees to thank us. Loris actually came in at one point, complaining that someone wouldn’t let his friend into the show and telling us how he showed them up since he was Loris Diran, the main event.
Once the show was over, we collected the jewelry and made sure it was all accounted for. Loris, gleaming with pride, came in and invited us all to his after party. We took pictures and I got Sarah’s number so we could go the the party together later.
We nervously took the subway to Tribeca to find our way to the after party. We were mostly nervous since it was 9/11 and everyone is a little nervous to use the subways, worried it might be the next target.
We got into the party and just about all of the models were there and just a few other volunteers came. We talked, Loris got happily drunk, and we sipped on our drinks with our new model acquaintances before going back home.
My experience was amazing but it also taught me a lot. I wanted to blend in when I showed up. I didn’t think my outfit was fashionable enough and had my hair up in an embarrassing ponytail ready to work and not even expecting to meet the designer. I learned that putting in the extra effort and showing that you’re willing to do more work gets you noticed. Getting noticed helps you make connections and I made quite a few that day, along with some amazing memories.
Bottom line, if you can work at fashion week, do it. If you get a lesser-known designer, that just means you can work even closer to them. Also, you might even get to add them (and the stylist) on Facebook. That part still makes me smile.