What makes a runway show? We shadowed the team at Jill Stuart during the week prior to their Spring 2016 runway show to figure out just what goes into Fashion Week, and—no surprise here—it goes far beyond the front row. Check back for each step of the way.
As told to Olivia Perez
Images by Greg Mitola
AN EXCLUSIVE LOOK AT THE BRAND FOR
JOURNALISTS AND BLOGGERS
MAXXIE GOLDSTEIN, LIV KELLEHER, AND COURTNEY-BROOKE JOHNSON
JILL STUART PUBLIC RELATIONS
Courtney-Brooke Johnson: First the influencers are selected. We handpick who we feel is most influential, and go from there.
Maxxie Goldstein: Courtney and her team put together the press plan for the show. Then we put together the plan in terms of digital influencers, and see where the two intersect. We want to scout girls who Jill loves and considers faces of the brand...
C: ...especially with bloggers and digital influencers. We’re not just asking them to do something that a lot of brands are asking them to do during this time. This is a moment for us to say we truly respect and love your work and style, and feel that its very on-brand with Jill Stuart. We want people to come in and meet us, meet Jill and start off Fashion Week right. We want to hear what you’re doing, what everyone’s looking to see this Fashion Week, and help guide them to see how Jill Stuart is different than any other brand.
M: A lot of it goes into, 'What does the week look like? How is the week going to play out? What do we want from a digital perspective for Day of Show? What’s the strategy behind all of this, and how does it align with a traditional press plan?'
C: A lot of times, the front row of a runway show are consumer-facing and industry-facing. Now that brands reach out to VIPs, there’s such a disconnect. Tonight was about making that true connection, and making it organic. Now all these girls will be connected throughout the week because of Jill Stuart. That's what we’re looking to build.
Olivia Perez: What are you paying attention to the most during these events?
C: I think before moving onto the show, the first thing we’re looking into is the relationship with these influencers, since we get to meet them face-to-face. We also get to watch them go through the collection for the show, all the while we’re cueing in on their taste. We also get to explain to them where the fabrics come from and Jill’s inspiration, so we get to excite them about the collection and give them a background. It’s not just throwing a look on—we want it to be a choice of theirs and have it be a part of them. I’m so excited to have these girls at the show because they’re just so excited to be there. Now they all know each other, and that’s going to change the entire energy of the show.
M: You and all these bloggers now are all connected socially. When you plan a dinner party, you want to sit people next to each other who know each other and have common interests.
C: Now you’re going to be so much more comfortable talking to each other after having this kick-off night together.
Liv Kelleher: We really wanted to find the right girl to match the brand. We went through so many girls. We wanted to find someone who was cool and laid back, not someone who is the hottest, most-followed blogger, but someone who we thought represented the Jill brand.
C: I think one of the other pieces not to miss is this is great from Jill’s perspective. So much of what you do during a show is based around critics watching you. Having this group of women here who are there to support here and support each other is such a good purpose for tonight.
BLOGGER, CLASS IS INTERNAL
Last year, I went to my first Jill Stuart fashion show and I remember getting to wear an outfit from them. I honestly thought it was a brand of dreams! I was in love. I went to the show and was front row and honestly, it felt like Cinderella. I love taking feminine things and ruining them completely with something totally masculine—like a blazer, tuxedo look or leather vests and studs. I love grunging things up. Anything girly and frilly I love, but there needs to be a masculine twist to it. I love all of [Jill's] luxurious fabrics—all of the velvets and silks. It’s very fluid to me. It’s sophisticated but it has a modern woman's vibe to it. I’m so excited to try things on.
I'm looking forward to the madness of it all. It’s so much fun for me. Getting to the shows, seeing all the photographers, and seeing all my friends again. I'm from Toronto, and this year I’m going to shows with my best friend, she’s also a fashion blogger. That’s definitely going to be my highlight this year.
THE MODELS AND LOOKS ARE SELECTED FOR THE SHOW
Specifically, we take two days, four hours a day. We might go overtime a bit but that’s usually it. We match the girls to the collection, we think of a certain girl we want to portray. This is the girl that everybody wants to know and never leaves the dance floor. She’s innocent, glamorous, and flirty. So we pick the personality and then find the model that best portrays her. It’s a very fun and exciting process. We do a tight edit and really try to tell a story. It’s one of my favorite parts of the entire show.
Casting usually takes between 2 – 6 days depending on the time restrictions involved, but it's a pretty fast scenario—it's surprisingly not difficult to choose between so many girls. Casting differs from brand to brand: if you aren't casting to the story and preserving the brand integrity, almost the way you would with a movie, then you aren't doing your client justice.
First, we have to do what we call rotation. We have to check which girl would look good in which outfit. If I have an outfit that’s a bit too girly, I put it on a tomboy. You try to create a character that fits the whole story of the show. It's like a club, and then you need to have a crowd of lots of funny little individuals. After, the girls come in. She tries things on, and sometimes you realize you were previously wrong and then other times it's really good. Then we accessorize with shoes and jewelry. If she’s too girly, no jewelry. If she seems to be too nice or cute, we put a lot of jewelry and give her some attitude. We tweak the characters. Then the seamstress comes to fit the clothes perfectly so that it all falls correctly. Lastly, we have to test if they can walk. Changes will occur, because suddenly one can come and have problems finding something, and then we’ll have to swap. If a dress needs too much alteration, then I’ll have to adjust.
By today, the rotation and the story of the show are completed. But casting-wise, it can change, less and less, towards the show. It's always a work in progress. Until five hours before the show, anything can change. Today everyone comes in one by one. On the day of show they come in and have their makeup done—then they have to do a rehearsal to walk in their shoes and learn the room they’re walking. Sometimes models are concentrating on so many other things and we want them to understand the shape they’re walking in. Although that sounds stupid, models have to control their walk, be confident, looking good, controlling their body, and sometimes you can screw up and go the wrong way. It feels simple but it could be a big problem. So many designers are doing different things and they need to understand the vibe of it. They may be able to do it in the office, but once they have to walk 100 meters it becomes a problem.
I’ll always tell them if they look too sad or if one shoulder is higher than the other. But I l tell them they have to feel confident. When they like their look, they feel cool, and that’s where my job becomes important.
JILL STUART'S SPRING 2016 COLLECTION HITS THE RUNWAY
It's here! Watch the livestream below at 11 AM ET and follow us on Instragram for backstage access @frndofafrnd
AARON DE MEY
ARTIST, MAC COSMETICS
The inspiration for the makeup is the clothing, the beautiful soft fabrics. It’s the pastel colors, it’s the vibe of the Seventies and something bohemian. A progression of the rock-and-roll way that we normally do for her, and we’re moving it forward for Spring Summer 16.
I’m using a really matte pastel and individualizing the makeup, depending on skin complexion and what she’s wearing. I’m using a candy pink and a cornflower blue for lighter complexions, and giving darker complexions a naturalistic eye with lots of mascara. We’re going ante what we normally do, against black and brown, soft, but with a tough application. It’s almost like a David Hamilton photograph, but toughened up. If the girls wearing pink, I’m doing blue, and if the girl’s wearing blue, I’m doing pink.
ARTIST, ORIBE HAIR
The hair for this season is a continuation of a previous girl, who would normally have bouncy, full hair, a nice wave and body to it. This year we’re doing the same thing but the hair is going to be pulled back into a kind of low, loose ponytail for everybody. I don’t want it to be too romantic, but it should just have a nice nonchalance to it. It should look effortless—that’s the whole idea of the low pony, it’s what we do when we just don’t want to deal with our hair. It has a nice balance with the clothing: the clothing is so pretty, the hair needs to feel a little more casual.
On show day, I wake up really, really early, and Eddie from Sally Hershberger comes to my apartment and does my hair at seven o’clock in the morning. I get to the venue at about eight o’clock and everybody’s there hustling and bustling, and hair and make-up is getting ready and my team is there, steaming and pressing everything, and checking all the looks and making sure everything is in its place. Camille, my stylist, is there and everything is being checked over carefully and we’re checking and testing the hair and make-up again and going over everything just to make sure it’s perfect. There are a lot of photographers backstage; it’s a very, very exciting time. It’s a very busy day. We’re checking everything and are just running around like crazy, trying to make sure Kylie [Peterson, Director of Communications] is there and my sales team is there and my PR team is there… I absolutely love putting together the show.
This season, I was thinking about a specific girl: she’s the girl at the party that you want to sit next to, that you want to get to know. She’s innocent, she’s glamorous, she’s fun, she’s vibrant, she’s magnetic, she’s dancing, she’s wearing satin slips, she’s wearing little biased-cut skirts, she’s bare-shouldered. She’s very flirty but she doesn’t belong to anyone. She’s not a wallflower. I do have one favorite look that I cannot wait to wear: it’s a black satin top with smocking and ruffling around the neck, with ruffled sleeves and black wide-leg crepe pants with satin piping and a slit on the front of the leg.
I like to celebrate the show by going out to lunch with my team and my family. Afterwards, the collection comes back to the showroom and we set it up for the buyers and we merchandise it and edit it and set it up by delivery and price it and get ready for market week. Then, first thing Monday morning, we have the buyers come in and look at the collection and start to sell it. We try to sell everything that we show on the runway.
I’m leaving the day after the show to go to Paris for Première Vision, and I’m starting on next fall right away. I go to Paris and I work on the fabrics for the season, and that’s how it starts. Then I work on doing my research for the inspiration for the collection. I hope to surprise you for Spring 2016, and I hope to surprise myself for Fall 2016.