What It’s Really Like Modelling in a Fashion Show

  • Amy Bebbington
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Fashion shows may look glamorous from the FROW yet behind the scenes it can be absolute madness. Last minute changes, the sheer amount of people and no shows can make the atmosphere electric and a little stressful. From the moment the first model steps on to the runway to the finale the backstage area is chaotic. Even though the fashion show has been planned and prepped for months, designers can change their mind or an unforeseen hiccup can completely change the running order.

Modelling in a fashion show is a lot more difficult than you may think. You are expected to be on board for all aspects leading up to the event. A models fashion week schedule is probably the most crazy time of the year. 

A Successful Casting Call

The process for London Fashion Week (and all the others that follow) begins like any other modelling job – the casting call. You most likely will have quite a few lined up during the fashion week period and may have to travel internationally for the likes of Paris, New York and Milan – if you’re UK based. Try not to plan go sees too close together in case of delays. Castings do involve a lot of waiting around so be prepared.

Once in the room you will be expected to deliver your model walk. Make sure you practice in advance and strut with confidence. They may ask you to repeat this a couple of times and even give you advice if they see potential. The casting agents may also take a quick snap of you to remember who you are when they are deciding who to choose.

The Fittings

With a few successful castings you will have fittings to attend before the actual date. The designer arranges the line up deciding which model will be most suited to each design. You will be invited to the fashion house where you get to try on the garments so the atelier can clearly see the adjustments that will need to be made. You need to be patient and stand still whilst they pin areas that need altering. By the final fitting hopefully it is a matter of double-checking and making minor adjustments unless the designer has had a complete change of heart. The number of fittings depends on the designer and how the process is going but you must make sure that you are available when they need you.

Attend Rehearsals

Before the big day you will be required to attend rehearsals so that you know exactly what you are doing. Hopefully, the running order will remain the same but it is not guaranteed. Models are zigzagging all over the city trying to make all of the shows on time. However, if a model gets a better offer on the day she may not show up. This could result in a new model taking their place last minute, which could affect your position also. Fashion weeks are about showcasing your talent and making a name for yourself in the fashion industry. Therefore, a model who adapts quickly and performs well under pressure will be remembered for next season.

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It’s Hard Work

A lot of models work in multiple fashion shows over a few days that are located in different areas of the city. Dashing across town is a reality for many models who cannot be late. Once at the new venue, your look from the previous show will be removed by hair and makeup artists and started all over again. This could happen a few times a day, which can be damaging to your locks and skin. With early starts and late finishes, your complexion will not be in the best condition. Also, make-up and exhaustion can make your eyes puffy and sore. Eye masks and eye drops are really worthwhile investing in during this time. For hair natural oils are advised on the run up to the shows to treat the locks overnight. After the fashion shows have finished you will be expected to attend parties to network. Models really do work on minimal sleep during this time.

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Constant Communication

Invest in a portable phone charger, as with schedules changing on the day your agent will need to get hold of you. With so many apps, smart phones don’t last the day and a socket may not be in sight or in use. However, a fully charged portable charger will be a lifesaver. You might need be asked to go to a fit confirm that wasn’t planned. Your agent may WhatsApp you with the details and without a phone you may miss an important message. As well as eating you will be expected to catch up with your agent whilst running between shows.

The Dresser

Your clothing will be lined up on a rail with your photo, name, shoes and essentials (nude underwear etc). You will be assigned a dresser who will help you as you come off the runway and need to be back on extremely quickly. Running in 5 inch heels is a reality for models who don’t want to miss their cue. However, when you step on the stage a calm, fierce walk is demanded.

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How Much Do Runway Models Make per Show

It’s difficult to predict a set figure for a runway model salary. It depends on you profile in the fashion industry, Instagram followers, gender and experience. A well established, public figure will earn a lot of money per show however, an unknown may only be paid in clothes. They are the two extremes yet very relevant. The fashion world is all about who you are and building up to earn a large sum per show. Aspiring models walk in a lot of shows for the experience and excitement rather than the money. You have to weigh up if the catwalk appearance is worth your while. If you do walk for next to nothing make sure the next season your wage goes up. Remember that you have to pay your bills, rent and eat.

Unfortunately, a male model salary is much less than a females. It is the one industry where women are paid more as the industry is much more lucrative than men’s. It is an injustice that needs to be addressed as male models are being discriminated against for their gender. Equal pay is just as relevant for men as it is for women.

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Posted by Amy Bebbington

I express my love of fashion through writing, blogging and styling. My creative personality ensures that I produce unique and original work. I am a keen knitter and enthusiatic dancer.