Fashion Week is to models what the Olympic Games are to athletes. It's a chance for models to showcase their talent, travel the world, and make a name for themselves. Both require months and even years of preparation and hard work to experience the ultimate moment on the global stage.
For all involved - models, designers, show producers, model agents, makeup artists, stylists, photographers, magazine editors, buyers, and even musicians - Fashion Week is often a hectic and exciting time with little sleep. But the excitement doesn't start with the shows; it begins months in advance when models attend casting sessions, fittings, and rehearsals.
What, When, and Where
Fashion Week takes place twice a year in each of the four major fashion capitals of the world: New York, London, Milan, and Paris. During each Fashion Week, countless shows are presented by both established and emerging designers.
It all began with New York Fashion Week in 1943, followed by Paris Fashion Week in 1945, Milan Fashion Week in 1958, and finally London Fashion Week introduced in 1994. While other major cities also have their own Fashion Weeks, these four cities are considered the "Big Four" of the fashion world, drawing the most attention and attracting the largest crowds and celebrities.
In February and March, Fashion Week showcases the models for the upcoming fall/winter collections. In September and October, shows present the spring/summer collections for the next year. Since the shows take place so far in advance, buyers have the opportunity to shop and plan for the upcoming season, and fashion editors get a first glimpse of the new trends.
Backstage to the Runway
Before each show, models participate in final fittings with designers, where the outfits are finalized, and the model's presentation is determined. Once the outfits are selected and adjusted, they are hung on a rack, usually with a picture of the model and other specific instructions. Designers may also attach a "goodie bag" to each rack, containing items like nude underwear or a thong, makeup remover, razor, deodorant, and other hygiene products, just in case the model forgot to bring some essential items.
The shows take place at all times of day and night, often requiring models to work from before sunrise to well after sunset. There are early call times for hair and makeup, and often models are expected to attend extravagant after-parties crucial for networking within the modeling and fashion world.
As most models attend multiple shows per day during the week, they must constantly rush to arrive on time for each individual show; and if one show runs late, it can create chaos for all subsequent shows. Models often get little sleep and have only a brief time between shows to eat and interact with their agents on their way to the next venue.
Part of being a model is always looking good, which can be challenging when dealing with limited sleep. Luckily, models have some of the world's best hair and makeup specialists who also work long hours to help the models achieve their best appearance.
While most people only see the glamorous side of Fashion Week, every show involves hours of work by hundreds of people, even if it only lasts a few minutes. Fashion and modeling are undoubtedly exciting professions, but they also demand a lot of hard work, preparation, and dedication.