Pre-Show: Build a Team
Building the team: this is so huge. You can't do a show without a team, and we're gonna go down the list of the different people you're gonna need to get, then we're gonna talk a little bit about who you might wanna connect with and how. So the talent, this is the actual creative team, the designer, maybe the other designers you might be collaborating with, sort of a shoe designer, a hat designer, jewelry designer. So really the people who are creating the actual content for the show. Then you have the models, and lemme just say, a lot of people forget about that ironically, that first team, even though that's the point of the whole show. It gets so wrapped up into production that you forget that they're a part of the equation, even if it's you because you're so concerned with all the other elements, so take a moment, take a breath, take a step back and remember that you're an important part of that process. The models. Now everybody has a different strategy with models, and actually w...
e have some examples here from one of the local agencies and pushpins, thank you, and one of the first things you wanna do is you can do it digitally, we got comp cards, we wanna be a little old school. Models will put together a comp card where there's a headshot, and then there are maybe four different looks to show their range and as a designer, you wanna go through these head shots, you wanna get a feel for what they look like.
Can you hold it up?
I'll hold up two examples.
So this is a version of the full headshot, so you get their name, you get their agency, and then you get versions of their identities, who they can morph into. So there's usually a body shot to show that they can be athletic or for lingerie and things like that, they have an athletic shot, they have a high-fashion shot, a more catalog shot, so this can be a whole range of things depending on what the model is kind of, wants to take on in terms of their modeling career. And these can be a little deceptive and they can be a little out of date sometimes, so one of the things with models, you wanna always make sure that you take your own measurements and you take, and you figure out how tall they really are and one of the little tricks that I do is we have a tape measure taped to the wall and when they come in, they need to take off their shoes and we get an accurate measurement because sometimes it may be an issue to have the models all the same height, so you really can't go by the cards because they may be that height in heels or close to it or a little over. So little things like that are gonna play into I think getting back to with the making, sort of your pattern making, because they need, kind of a Cinderella thing where they need to fit a certain form. Some designers that's not an issue, it's really about other things. So I'm going to move ahead just one second and we'll come back, but what is the most important, what is most important to you about the models you're working with? So with this, we need to ask ourselves when we have this range and I'm just gonna put up a couple of these, so we have, you wanna get them in front of you almost like you did with your mood board and remember also when we were doing our sketches, we were trying to create an identity for our croquis, here's a live presentation of that, and it doesn't always have to be an exact match because you can have the essence of a girl and she could be all different skin tones, all different hairstyles but she represents a certain audience. Yes?
Can you define croquis for folks who haven't been with us the whole time?
Yes, so croquis is a term in sketching and technically it's a French word and technically it means the finished drawing, but over the years in fashion schools especially it's come to mean the figure. So I kind of use it that way. Technically in France it would mean the entire sketch but that figure or that mannequin who is going to be carrying your clothes into the world.
Alright, so and these are great, 'cause these have a real range. Alright. So as I said, you always wanna meet the models after you've gone through this process but this is a good sorting process. This is an editing process like we talked about earlier. So here we have some beautiful young women but they're all very, very distinct and you wanna ask yourself which ones might be able to transform into your look because they're all beautiful but they all are saying something kind of with the focus of their photographs so some of them are definitely playing up sort of being sexy and voluptuous, some of them are playing up, they have an edgier side, and even if you have your aesthetic is the classic beauty, to throw a couple of unusual or unexpected types for your category is a really good thing to do. So if I was doing bridal, I might, you know, again go for more classics but think about how I can put that punctuation in there because that could be your awe. Like all of a sudden you have a bald model or have a model with a crew cut, you know something hairstyle-wise that would just be a little jarring but just as beautiful and you can make that really powerful. So of these models, not to put the models on the spot or you on the spot, but for instance, right away do you see anyone who feels like your special occasion wear?
Well the one on the far lower left has a very fresh, very fresh, youthful look, so if I were designing primarily for a youthful bride, that would definitely be the type, but in fact I work more with mature brides and so I would, I don't see anybody up there who looks--
That is a great point.
Quite like what I have in my mind. I think it would be somebody older, edgier, with more of a presence. Not so much--
Somebody with a real personality who has a stronger sense of herself already without the layering of the makeup.
And that is something in the modeling industry, I mean even though there's a range of younger models who have become personalities and you hire them to your shows because they're the funny one or the funky one and they have an attitude, but also the age is an important factor. We didn't specify what age range, so this is all probably that sweet spot for most models, you know, probably late teens, early 20s, and this is important because if you know your audience, and you're sending out, you know your audience is a little bit older and you're sending out teens and early 20s, that's gonna turn off the audience almost immediately because they're gonna go pretty dress but you know, why is a teenager wearing it? And that may not be your actual market. If you're doing party dresses that are after your special occasion that are maybe designed for a younger audience, you can bring that in. I remember going to an Oscar de la Renta show and where he had this whole influx of younger models but it was because he had done a part of his collection that seemed geared for that younger audience because he felt that his original customer now was maturing and her daughter and her granddaughter were coming into the fold in terms of buying de la Renta and I'm guessing at this 'cause I don't know Oscar but just from what I saw, it seems like that was a strategy, like showing the mix onstage was really key. So that's a really valid point, because you want to consider the age, and also the mix because you know, do you have different skin tones, different hair textures, even different body types? You don't necessarily want everyone to be the same frame if that's not a part of your aesthetic and your customer base. Okay? So okay, so let's get back to our list. Hair and makeup, this is actually, we can go back to the board here because this is a really cool range of hair and makeup. We have very classic, traditional sort of model looks but here, I mean her eyebrows are amazing. Whatever the makeup artist did to create this little sort of effect of sort of haphazard brows, I'm sure they were kind of inserted as well, is a simple little detail that becomes the look of a show, and we talked about that with the mood boards, how important it is to think ahead so you can give your makeup person and your hair person direction and if you look at her makeup, you know, it's a matte makeup, it's very fair, and the accent it allows that eyebrow to pop, and the same thing even with her hair. It's clean, it's almost the color of her skin, it's pulled back, and it's all about this freshness but with an edge, and it can be as simple a strategy as that to undertake when you're working with hair and makeup. Okay, yes?
I have a question for you going back to models, because such a huge part, as all of these things are, but do you do casting calls, like what are the actual sort of things that you do in all these challenges of finding the right models?
Well it depends on your needs and it isn't just the aesthetic need but that's why I said you want to meet them live and you would do a casting, but before you do a casting, you really have to ask yourself what is the most important thing and what will she be doing? You can have beautiful, beautiful girls who cannot walk, and I shouldn't say cannot walk, it's like not walk in the style that you want. And then you also have models who will walk in a style that you don't want that's sort of affected, like I remember I have this aversion to this little pony walk, it's like very stompy and it's cute and it serves its purpose, but for most shows, it's distracting. So you wanna learn those things. I had models, I say to them why are you doing that? And they're like oh, it's my signature. It's like mm, not so much. You know, you might think so but the whole point of a model is that you wanna transform for whatever you need and become the perfect ideal for that, at least I think so but because more and more models are becoming personality-driven, that's coming up more and more but you have to ask yourselves what do you want, do you want her to walk, does she need to be the right size, does she have to be sort of emotive, like does she have to look like she's smiling, 'cause a lot of fashion is very deadpan, very serious, but if you're a designer and you want this sort of athletic, earthy, fun feel, I've worked for athletic companies before and the hardest thing working with the models is getting them to have a good time onstage and jump around and feel sporty and you know, be really physical because they're so used to that serious, deadpan look. So you have to ask yourself, when you meet them live because this is the starting point, what you want from them, and then decide that because you can fall in love with a picture but then that person needs to actually walk and sometimes respond in ways on the runway. So, alright. (clears throat) The stylist. We talked about giving up a little control and letting someone interpret your work, but you don't have to do that in a huge way to have a stylist on your team. A lot of times your stylist can help you keep the look consistent and bring in elements that enhance. So if you say, all I want on the girls is like three huge chunky bracelets, you know, for every outfit I just want, that's the only accessory I want. Then you can work with the stylist to come up with what that means, you know, maybe they look very ethnic or maybe they look very plastic, like futuristic, whatever it is and a stylist is out in the world, you know, and constantly scanning for content so they are a really useful ally in this whole process and a lot of people kind of write them off as just, just for celebrities, or if I don't know what I'm doing, I need someone to help me interpret, but they really are an incredible ally if you can find one to collaborate with. And they are also a great team member backstage to help make sure that everything going out has the look that you planned with them. The dressers, the dressers are hugely important. They really keep things going, and often you will have one dresser assigned per model, if she has multiple looks that's usually because you wanna create that little relationship and they're sort of her assistant throughout the whole show. Sometimes you can't get that many dressers and models so you have to kind of just come up with a formula that works. One of the things that I, I'll mention later when I talk about timeline, your run of show with models, you wanna make sure you give yourself enough time in the cycle so for when the models start repeating, 'cause you're not gonna have one model for each outfit, and the dressers really help with that, with the speed and the dressers, the best dressers are gonna work with the designer first to figure out how this dress goes on because I've had shows I mean shows where the dress goes out backwards, or the closure doesn't work 'cause the dresser couldn't figure it out, so and that usually happens with complicated garments or sometimes really simple garments with the whole idea of putting it on backwards so you want people, these dressers to be engaged with the designer so that they know, or the stylist so that they know what they're doing. And then finally, music, light, sound, and stage, and even if you have a very simple operation onstage, you want to work and collaborate with these individuals so that you have the look that you want. Lighting is really, really key. There was a short trend where lighting got very theatrical and very colorful and it basically completely negated all the work the designer did in terms of the color of their collection. You know, they very carefully picked out color and texture and all these kind of things, and these red lights and blue lights all of a sudden changed it, so in photographs you didn't see the clothes in their true light. So you wanna make sure if you're doing, working with a lighting person and they wanna do something fun and theatrical, that you think about how the clothes are gonna be lit for what you want. You know, it doesn't always have to be stark white, like I could imagine with steampunk, it could be sort of golden and amber and there's a softness and a romantic aspect to it. For something modern it could be very cool and blue, and those are just my perceptions of it, but you can kind of play with it, but understand how your clothes are gonna react under it. And then sound and stage, staging obviously, if it's a stage, if it's an elevated runway, everyone thinks that that's the standard but you can also have floor level, but always keep in mind can your audience see. So if you go down to the floor, then third and fourth rows and beyond should be going up so they can see down, and if you do all flat seating, you usually wanna raise your model so even if it's a short riser, just enough so that the people in the back can see. And those are all logistics that you're gonna want to work out with the staging person. And then for music, we touched on this earlier, how does the music make you feel and also, the level of the music, the volume? I've been to a lot of shows where I actually, actually a couple of them I have left because it's painful. It's like some people think louder is better and the other thing about that too and some music people have disagreed with me on this, the bass, often the bass gets people going because it's this thumping feeling so if that works that's great. I always say bass down, treble up, because I wanna hear the crispness of the music and that's just a personal thing but I find that audiences really respond really well to that if they're there and it's not supposed to be a heavy duty thumping kind of show. So keep that in mind because a lot of music people err on the side of the heavier bass because that's more fun and more club-like or whatever their interests are, so make sure the sound sounds right for you, okay? So let's move onto our questions about that. So we talked about the models. I'm wondering with your aesthetics for your collections is there a particular hair and makeup formula that you think, like would it be reflective of what you're doing or something completely different? I'm curious with the costuming because it's usually a match, right, or?
Yeah, I mean I imagine it would depend on that specific character and if you're trying to do a more modern interpretation of their costume, try and reflect that as well, or if you're, like steampunk if you're trying to take them to another time period to match that along with the costume.
Definitely, and what about with bridal? You think more traditional, or throw in a couple wildcards?
Again it would depend but I think what I do is more unconventional, so I keep thinking about this bride that I worked with about 15 years ago who came to me and she wanted a black dress. She was getting married in Prague and she had bought a jacket and she wanted it to go with this jacket. The jacket was kind of a rust color and it was very kind of hairy and odd, but I made her a black, backless, wool satin full-length sheath dress,
And it just worked out terrifically, so about 14 years later, I got a call from her and she said I don't know if you remember me or not but this is, she told me her name. I said I remember you (laughs). She said well, that wedding didn't work out so I'm getting married again, but it was quite a short timeline so she had some fabric, she brought it over and she said could you make me a dress out of this and I said, I don't think we wanna go in that direction. It was horrible, horrible fabric. But I said how do you feel about white? Because you know, I had a lot of white fabric on hand so I knew I had something I could make, so I made her a white bias-cut silk sheath, just a simple little slip dress, turned out great. Both dresses were completely unconventional and that's really what I do, so I would choose an unconventional location, I would choose people at a very unconventional look, a whole range of sizes, tall, short, really mix it up so there would be something there for everybody in the audience to identify with. That's the direction I go.
I think this is a great example for everyone because again, the preconceptions of what special occasion is are so ingrained in us, of what bridal is or what mother of the bride is, but you talked about your customer earlier about her being a little unconventional, sure of herself, she knows what she likes, what she doesn't like. That's a tough customer sometimes 'cause you know, it's gonna be really challenging but also really exciting customer because you can collaborate with them to go those places and I think to entice that customer and to capture their imaginations, incorporating hair and makeup and models and environments that will stimulate them is a real fun challenge.
It also has to, because they are, they can go to any bridal shop and find a gorgeous dress at any price point, so my hook always is that there is a reason why they're coming to me and usually it's because they have a specific body issue, or because they just do not see themselves in those fluffy white gowns at all, so we use a lot of color, a lot of accent colors, a lot of other things that are not, don't speak to sort of traditional bridal at all.
And that speaks to your niche too because I mean you are the answer to their problem and as designers, we wanna be solving those problems for people, we wanna say what's the challenge. For the theater it'd be the director, for you it'd be that person who wants to go to a convention and play, and then even as a stylist, McKenzie, with the challenges that come with that, this is all an important focus, thinking about how I'm gonna develop all this, 'cause we take it for granted so often but it really is vital.