Pre-Show: Create a Timeline and Checklist
This is again, a little bit more logistics. And here we want to think about the big picture, not just the event. So we want to think about the announcement, and this is where I mentioned before about reverse engineering, you kind of want to think how far out do you want to talk about this. Because if it's too far out, people will forget about it. So you want to think in terms of a save the date and then an invitation and then maybe even a follow-up as a reminder to get their RSVPs in. So you want to think about what that timetable is. And there's no right or wrong really, you can kind of adjust it to your audience's needs. You know, what you think their needs are. But I would say you want to have the RSVPs far enough in advance that you can plan for, for instance seating. If you have 200 people RSVP and you have a venue that seats 150, you have a little bit of a problem so you need to figure that out. So you want a cut off that's early enough that you can tell, if you're working with a...
venue, what your needs are. And then also work backwards from that and say okay, the reminder will come two weeks before, and the save the date maybe, I don't know, a month before. But once it gets past that, it just starts to get really leggy. That's about the most distance from the event that I would give it. But besides picking a date, for the event and for the announcement, you need to think about what that announcement is gonna be like. This is where you pull in all your great graphic design friends and you start to say let's collaborate on what this is gonna look like, how it's gonna reflect me as a designer, but then also the event itself. And the great place also, not so much the invitation, but if you do any printed materials for the show, it's a great place to thank people. Be careful with, I would say just a little warning about programs and things like that, sometimes they're a necessary evil for events. But they get very logo heavy, you know everyone wants their logo on it and just lots of thank yous. That's all great but I challenge you to make that program a little bit more of a keepsake rather than a program. And say what could I put in there image wise or story wise or something that people go "Oh this is really special, I want to keep this." So instead of just doing logistical stuff, even though that's very important because you want to acknowledge everybody, I would say make it a little bit more special. Because one of the things I've noticed over 20 years is that programs, and any kind of handouts like that at a show, usually end up under the seats and it's just a matter of cleaning them up afterwards for recycling. So you want to give them a reason, just like with the press, you want to give them a reason to take home that collateral that you've created. Alright, promotion. When it comes to promoting the show, just like the timetable for all this, for all the, for the date, you wanna think about rolling out a campaign. Like in advertising you wanna sorta roll things out. And ask yourself when is a good time to send that press release? When is a good time, and a little note on that, the key to that is finding out where you're sending it, and what their lead time. If you send a magazine a press release for your event that's happening in four weeks, they will write about it, they may come and cover it, but you can't count on that, but they definitely won't write about it and help you promote it. So, because they don't have the timeline, usually it's at least four to six weeks in advance. So but online services or online calendars or dailies could be someone you approach a little bit, you know, with that kind of lead time. And then you wanna think about what are the messages. We talked about this earlier about creating different types of messages for different audiences, different sizes. I went through this when I was thinking about this course. You know, how often am I gonna tweet? How many posts am I gonna do on Facebook? Ended up my time was really completely filled, so I didn't do much of it. But I tried. But then plan was I thought about it and said, "How am I going to roll this out?" How am I gonna tease it out earlier? How are we gonna make it sound exciting? And it's interesting because, working with the Creative Life team has been really cool 'cause they have their needs as to how they roll things out and they encouraged me to think about how I would connect with my audience around the course. 'Cause it's a little different than the bigger audience, you know the scope of the company. So when you're working, collaborating with different people, think about those elements. Like a week before, there has to be a really good Facebook post. The week of, I'm tweeting every day, sending a little message. Yes?
Can you give us some examples of what those tweets might be or what's the content that you would put in one of those Facebook posts to get that attention?
Yeah because it's very different. The Facebook posts, I almost treat them as archival. I think of them about, sort of letting these sort of stones sit in place that they'll have a shelf life. So I'll think of them as like this is a good post that takes someone, that tells someone a story or connects with, connects them with somebody who's an important part of the show like the charity. You know it might be a whole event about you know, the one of the people that the charity is helping and how the designer met that person and their part of the show. Those are interesting little stories that can go sort of longer form. When you're tweeting I often find either they're sort of fun energy, you know all about the energy of the show. So little perceptions of what's going on, but also they're really really good for call to action. So you can put something out there and say if you RSVP for the show today or if you go to get your ticket today, it's going to be 20% off. And think about that, the early bird. Conferences do that a lot where if you get your ticket by a certain time and you announce this on the website or in the invitation but then you reinforce it with tweets and posts. And then you have Instagram which is, I think we've talked a little bit about this, about giving people this visual insider look into what you're doing. Not just the process, but when you're putting together a show, you're doing the model casting, click click click. And not necessarily the specific model, you know because that could be a little like, that's not as special, but the environment. Like get a picture, walk to the corner of the room, I do this a lot here in the studios like cool shots, and get shot of the room and get a shot of behind the people checking out the models or the models all waiting and looking really bored. You know what I mean like all these different kinds of things that could be fun and expose your audience to this whole experience with you. So, alright. Prep, it sounds pretty easy but you need to build in a really sensible block of time for just the prep of the show. You want to anticipate any issues, pack toolkits, you know we talk about this with the guides. Actually this is a good place to kind of bring up the gear guide for fashion shows. I have it here at the back. And so many of the things, it's a long list so I'm not gonna go through the whole thing, but you wanna think about the care of the clothes, what you need to do once it arrives. You know for instance like steamers and irons and then even just a side note you want to make sure that at the venue you can plug those things in. Hair and makeup, you don't see so many hairdryers anymore but hairdryers suck up a lot of electricity so you're gonna make sure you don't blow a fuse. But getting back to the gear guide, all different kinds of tapes, pins, sewing kits, scissors, oh straws for the makeup kits so that they don't ruin their makeup and still can drink and not pass out on you. You know little things like that. And index cards, sharpies, travel bags, hangers, music you know like have something where you can play music because that can always help set a mood. All these little minute little things that you may sort of take for granted, but when you get there like ah, if only I had that. A key thing about models and just your team in general, which you want to really consider is having food and water for your teams, especially if it's gonna be a long period of time. I have had models faint backstage, just waiting, just waiting they just completely pass out. And you know having bananas or water or bars, health bars, whatever it is, you do want to make sure that whatever food that you get isn't dangerous for your clothes. So we're not gonna have red wine backstage. Or any wine for that matter. So you want to think about those kinds of things because, I'm guilty of it most and every once in a while I get a reminder from one of the great crew here to drink some water because I forget, and so you have to remember when you're in the moment you need that person who's checking, who's playing mother so to speak. It shouldn't really be you, it should really be someone on your team who's checking in with you to make sure everybody's okay. And that is an incredibly valuable thing. So, okay. So the prep, there's so much going in just to prepping what you're bringing. Nevermind just prepping the collection. And we also talked about in the making stage, how finishing and packaging everything, how are you transporting it? If it's going in a car for instance, all your clothes are gonna be laying down, right? They're gonna be flat. So how is that gonna affect your clothes? For some clothes it won't be a big deal, for other clothes it will mean lots of work at the venue. So it might be worth it to hire a van, that has you know, that you can put a rack in, stand it up. And actually drive it out and have the clothes in perfect condition when you get there. In this block of time you also need to consider communications. Making sure that throughout this whole process, you make sure all the people that you have coming are, you're checking in with people and make here they're getting in okay, they're not lost, they know the entrance of the venue that they need to go through rather than the first one. I mean the audience one. And so that takes a lot planning and you have to allow yourself that. I know a lot of designers you see in movies and television shows working to the very last minute, you know they're sewing something on before it goes on the stage. That's gonna happen, it shouldn't. It shouldn't really be happening right before the dress goes out. If there's an accident or something that makes sense but your clothes, you should have them done well in advance. And not only just so that they're ready for the show, but in promotional materials. The very day after the show, or even the day of the show you might want to have already photographed all your pieces so when you have a customer possibly, when you have press, that's something as your design team or your assistant or your press person can hand off in a moment and it reinforces that whole possibility of people writing about you. But it takes a lot of planning to have those clothes ready. Way in advance. When we work with our launch designers in Boston, which are new designers that we're kind of helping get in the public eye, their clothes have to be ready at a minimum of two weeks before the show, because we schedule the photographer to shoot every look. So that once the press asks they don't miss an opportunity to get in the press because those items have already been photographed. And again it doesn't have to be a big fancy shoot, an editorial, it's almost better if it's in a white space and it's more of a catalog feel but you've documented. And also for your archives as a designer, it's good to do that. Set up schedule the sequence. So you want to know what makes sense. A lot of designers initially will have everyone show up at the same time, you want to stagger everything for when you need them. If you have everyone show up at the same time, not only do you have a lot of people just waiting around for hours, but you get a lot of angry people waiting around for hours. So really try to think, how early do I really need this person. And we get to, we're gonna talk about in a minute, the post show, but you wanna do that at the end of the show as well. You wanna know who's gonna be with you at the end of the show because if it's a long event, it might not be the same team. Staging, sets and choreography. We touched about this but again, planning it out with the professionals or eliminating it altogether. You know, saying "I want a clean slate." And then show time, just a little advice, the audience and what is supposed to happen. They don't know what's supposed to happen. They don't know the order that dresses are supposed to go out in. So I've had shows where the designer will hold all the models because one of the looks it not ready. The worst possible thing you could do. Nothing worse than dead time on a runway. People get fidgety, it looks terrible. They don't know that that model's supposed to come out next. So it's better to have a great flow and go with it and have fun and act like this is the way it's supposed to happen, than to apologize or to make people wait. So remember this part of your fashion experience is not so much about you as about the experience that you're sharing. So just a little tip, but like they don't know what's supposed to happen, so whatever happens was supposed to happen.
And we have a question here from--
Oh, wonderful, yes.
I was just gonna say that I'm struck by how all of this relates to planning a wedding. And all of those things are exactly what people need to have happen when they plan their wedding and actually have it happen.
And what do brides do? They hire a wedding planner. Right because often this is so overwhelming and they're concentrating on being the bride. So it's just like with a designer, you wanna make sure you have this incredible team. And what I would suggest too, if you don't have sort of this team in place, think about working with people that you might identify as being good at certain things that maybe have never done it before, and being honest I have never done it before. So say to them, "I have never done it before but I think you'd be really good to do this part." And working with them and coming up with a strategy for it. Like thinking it because sometimes out of not having done it before, this comes into that place where if we haven't done it before it seems like very foreign and distant, but if you haven't done it before sometimes you can come up with new and fresh ways to look at it that no one else has seen because they're so used to the structure that's been in place forever. So, yeah.
Well, great I would love to see if anybody at home or anyone here has additional questions on this subject matter that, or things to consider or challenges that you've had in terms of getting to this point. Or any further experiences that you wanna share.
Well I think everything we've talked about so far is pre-show.
This is like this huge pre-show checklist, this is before you even get the girls on the runway. And it's important not to, again like said before about other areas is not to look at it as chore. Even though it's exhausting sometimes to even talk about it and think about it, it's just like feels like so much, if we compartmentalize and we break it down and we take it one nugget at a time, we can allow ourselves to do a lot with it. And then also, as I think I mentioned earlier when you asked me about do I lose sleep over fashion shows nowadays and it's like not anymore. And the main reason is I delegate. So I make sure I worked years on developing relationships with incredible people who are really talented at what they do and we collaborate on all the issues in advance and then they take the ball and run with it in all these areas. And after a while you build up a real trust and you know not only does she have your back, but she's going to deliver and probably surprise you in a really good way. Yes?
We have a question here. Go ahead.
I found when I've done these shows, and I've also done some other, not fashion shows but other events.
And they usually have to do with arts and stuff like that I've always, yeah they're stressful and you know there's a lot of work to be done but I've always looked at it from the standpoint that it's all part of the creative process because you have your outfits or your designs that you're showing but this is showcasing everything, this is all a big part of the entire design process. It's like the finishing touches on a big picture.
And to look at it like that kind of takes the stress out of thinking oh god this is a lot of work.
Well because it really is a whole other job, and like a lot of the things we've spoken about, the research phase, the sewing, the construction, the pattern making, we're not gonna be experts at all of them and we need to really embrace that in a good way. And saying it'll, if anything we're saying to ourselves, "Well this is gonna help me figure out what I'm really really good at." And I've done a lot of things over the years, and I love designing, I love drawing, I love making patterns, all those kinds of things, but I realized that the communication aspect of it was what was, I mean I could just go on for days talking about it and doing it and I lost time, you know how they say you lose time and that's what you should be doing. And that come out of years of training and all different types of things but all that training and all that information is I feel what kind of makes me good at what I do. And, its funny, they say, it's really funny they say that what you're scolded for when you were a kid often is what you're good at as an adult and I remember on my report cards "Jacob is doing very well in class but he would do so much better if he stopped talking in class." That's all I do as an adult, is talk about what I do. And I love it. Thankfully people are willing to hear what I have to say. But yeah, a lot of times you can look to those things that are innately a part of your nature and go with it.
I was always getting caught passing notes to people. (laughter) And talking in class, and here we are. Jay I wanted to ask a couple of questions before we do continue on. And we have, in the beginning we started to talk about when you look at whether doing a fashion show is something you should even consider is the why and what is it you want out of it so Liberace is saying, "I'd like to know how to make the average customer feel like fashion is relevant to them. I understand putting models who look like your customers in the show, however I never get the sense from watching say New York Fashion week that those folks are actually speaking to me." So can you, and I think that's how a lot, for a lot of people who look at it.
I think it depends at what your goal is. Because the goal of shows for instance during New York Fashion Week, and I don't want to say all shows, but a good majority of the shows, is not to relate to you. As the individual who is looking about fashion. It's all about perception and fantasy and this imagery, this lifestyle and fantasy that they're creating. So they're, often the clothes you might see at a big show, much of it might not ever make it to the store. But the feeling that you got at that sets the tone for why you would maybe pick up an accessory or pick up a scent or pick up whatever it is that will make you feel like you're connected to that fantasy. You know we saw the Karl Legerfeld beautiful experiential shows where he does these incredible sets. So if you buy into that collection in any way, whether it be an accessory or just Chanel perfume or whatever it is, you feel like you have a link to that. But it's less about being relevant to our lifestyle and more about selling you a fantasy. But that's not the strategy of every fashion show, that's why we talked about why, that's definitely promotional and they're setting the stage, it's like the biggest advertising investment because they are setting the tone for that season. Saying "This is what we're focusing on and we invite you to be a part of it." Whereas a show that might be about the community and real time it's really about connecting and reflecting. But even with the big designers who do these big shows, the consumer for this product, even if they're not that age or that size, that's what they want to see. They want to see the very young, tall, skinny model because when they put on those clothes they want to imagine themselves like that. So it's a part of the fantasy. And everybody is different so that's the beauty of it is that we can interpret it however we want.