Lessons Learned: My Experience Getting Into Fashion Production
by ATFDC Contributor Kelsi Zimmerman
With New York and London Fashion Weeks just ending and Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks starting in a matter of days, most fashionistas would kill to be in on the action, seeing next season’s biggest trends as they hit the catwalk. Haven’t exactly made the show invite list but love the intense, fast paced environment the fashion industry has to offer? Get involved to work these shows. Consider volunteering/interning and using experience as an amazing networking opportunity while of course, being in on the latest trends, looks and styles before they even happen.
As a Fashion Merchandising major with a special interest in Fashion Show Production, I have worked various Mercedes Benz Fashion Weeks in New York and Miami with various designers and pr & production companies. I have also been on production committees for local shows including the TC Wallace’s Love Is Red, Youth Rocking the Runway (which went fabulously this past Monday the 17th at the Carnegie Institution of Washington) and I’ve also been a coordinator at my university’s fashion show. No matter the caliber of the show, I can honestly tell you there is nothing like the goose bumps you get when you see the finale walk at the end of each show and seeing all of your hard work pay off after the crazy pre-show preparations you just underwent.
However, that’s not to say that being a part of fashion show production is all glitz and glamour. I mean, lets be honest, we all saw that episode of The Hills where Kelly Cutrone, founder of the powerhouse fashion pr company People’s Revolution, made Lauren Conrad cry. Because well, when representing some of the most sought after designers that the industry has to offer, you have to be tough. You have to be tough enough to get through all of the mishaps, all of the requests asked of you and willing to be halfway done a task before it is even asked of you.Whether its taking a taxi all over Manhattan to look for an item that at the end of the day probably won’t be used, or trying to help security guards at the Lincoln Center move New York Legend and Socialite Zelda Kaplan from her front row seat as a show is happening as she had passed away mid-show. You have to be tough enough to refrain from having a heart attack when you are still buckling a model’s shoe as she is stepping on the runway since she has to change in between looks.
But most importantly, you have to be tough enough to maintain an inner balance during all parts of the fashion show production. This includes those days when you the person asking the favor of you may forget their manners during the request while at the same you are being shoved to the side by a passing make-up crew backstage. You just have to smile, nod, ask any questions you may have and then hurry on your way to steam those five silk gowns backstage with ten minutes left before the show starts. But the balance comes from staying true to yourself during all of the craziness. Like founder of Peoples Rev and author of “If You Have To Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You” Kelly Cutrone stated, “in breaking away from the familiar and the expected, you’ll be forced and privileged to face greater challenges, learn harder lessons, and really get to know yourself.”
So if you are feeling up to the challenge of fashion show production, whether its to make a career out of it, or to use as a networking opportunity and to familiarize yourself with what the next season’s collections have in store, just make sure to bring your toughest skin, most comfortable (black) flats and your best work ethic. I will never forget prior to working my very first show with Seventh House PR in New York at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Fall 2011, one of the senior staff members spoke to the interns and told us how lucky we were to be there and how many aspiring industry professionals would die to be in our shoes. And she was right. Countless shows later, I still feel lucky to bhe apart of whatever show I may be working at the time. Lucky enough to be in the presence of such beautiful garments and respectable professionals, lucky to be networking at such a high caliber, and lucky enough to get the chance to show just how hard you can work.
So, with that being said, to gear up for the next display of the following season’s trends and collections, I first advise to search for the opportunities for various shows and positions in your area. All Things Fashion DC’s classifieds “jobs & internships” section is a great resource. Secondly, stay in the know regarding the various fashion shows happening in the area. Then contact the production company holding the event with a hard copy via snail mail of your cover letter and resume as well as an e-mail with a cover letter and your resume attached. I have learned it is best to be persistent.
As a young aspiring professional, it is always imperative to get as much experience as possible. So don’t be reluctant to start your journey with some of the smaller shows in the area. For example, Virginia’s Fashion Week held by Splash Model Management starts Thursday October 18th and you can visit their website for details of the event (www.vafashionweek.com). In Baltimore on November 4th at 2pm, the Maryland Historical Society hosts evening wear presented by the Baltimore Design School inspired by the 19th century. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more event details. Richmond Fashion Week is working on the event details for their upcoming 5th RVA Fashion Week. Visit their website at RVAFashionWeek.com and participate using their “volunteer” option and filling out your information to be apart of the production of the show!
A 21 year old Maryland Native and Senior Fashion Merchandising major at Stevenson University fashion has consumed Kelsi’s life from a young age and continues to as she travels to experience the fashion scenes from various cities across the world. Kelsi is thrilled to be back in the DMV and help bring to light the rising fashion scene right here in DC.