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Produce a Fashion Show

Lesson 3 of 12

Pre-Show: Develop a Fashion Show Concept

Jay Calderin

Produce a Fashion Show

Jay Calderin

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Lesson Info

3. Pre-Show: Develop a Fashion Show Concept

Lesson Info

Pre-Show: Develop a Fashion Show Concept

And now we're gonna talk about the fun first part. It's very similar to when we were talking about mood boards and researching. We're gonna start to develop a concept. So here though, what I want to do, is with these four areas after I describe them, I'd love to hear from you guys in terms of an idea like for that answers we have some questions after this, and we're gonna start putting things on the board. And seeing how a concept will come together. 'Cause it won't be the cork board it'll be the white board where we can kind of just shuffle things around, ideas, and add things and really play with how it comes together. So first is the purpose of the fashion show. Which spoke to what we just mentioned about why are you doing it. So that will set the tone. The next thing location, location, location. The place is probably the most important thing you need to consider because unless you have really great resources, you have to often work within the restrictions of a venue. I remember wo...

rking with the Boston Public Library years ago with fashion shows. And the first thing I'd ask them are what are the rules. Because, you know, it's a public institution and you know like security and all these kinds of things. They told me all the dos and don'ts and I designed the event around that. You know, where can we plug things in, where can we have models, where can we have guests, you know, where can you have people coming in and out. All these very simple things that we would take for granted, but knowing the location is very important. And are you working with a raw space? That'll determine all the things you have to bring in. Are you working with a hotel that can supply everything? You know, that will elevate the cost, in terms of, you know, the whole package. So all those logistics you want to consider the venue is the starting point. You know, I call it the white box. The theme of the show is not always the clearest thing when you're first thinking about it. 'Cause you just assume it's an extension of the theme of the collection and it can be, but it can also be something that sort of is the setting for the show and letting that shine without competing with it. In some instances, you know, you have full immersion and it becomes a real theatrical experience where there's sets involved and complicated choreography and performers and, you know, it just becomes a little bit of a theatrical experience. But then there are other places where you want an environment that is that plain white box. There's no distractions. And you have the collection of the clothing, the clothing collection be the star. And you don't need a theme, the theme is really sort of a blank space. So, and there are many degrees in the middle, but again this is a place where you want to decide that. So it's not decided for you. And this is a little bit more out there in the ether. Because it takes definitely a little creative thinking, memorable moments. And you are designing experience. You want to design the user experience at this event. And it has to be more than a straightforward show nowadays. At least, you know, that's my opinion. I think because we're so exposed to fashion shows, like say online if we're into fashion, and so the bar has been raised very high. So and again I'm a big advocate of working within your means. But there are ways to do really creative things that will wow people. Probably the simplest thing is to think something they can actually take away, you know, like a gift or something that's tied into your collection or something promotional. But sometimes it can be something that happens. There's a designer in Boston, Denise Hajjar, last year she did a show for charity during Boston Fashion Week. And she has personally started ballroom dancing. So she brought in her teams, I mean the school, the dancers at the school where she goes to, and they were incorporated into the show. And the show had this really fun, festive energy. So, you know, you want to think about what are things that can interject and it doesn't always have to be big. It could be the lighting. It could be that throughout the phases of the evening, you know, people walk in and it's pitch-black. Lights come up and it's a bright color, a bright pink. For the show it comes on in bright white to show the clothes and then we have something else happen with, you know, strobe lights at the end. So it can be very simple. It doesn't have to be, but something that you can say that was a little different, that was beautiful. I remember how I felt, you know, being enveloped in pink, you know, for that moment because it related to the show or something like that. And it's a simple thing to do. Like I said lights could be a gel that transforms a room. Alright, so let's go to our questions. And when we ask that first question, what would you want to get out of a fashion show? I'm just curious what would you want to get out of a fashion show? Yeah. So the two obvious things would be exposure and press. Okay. So exposure and press. How do you think we do that in terms of let's say we're starting out and don't have any relationship with the press at all? So you'd have to lay the ground work to make sure that press knew you were doing this. And you'd want to have it in a maybe an unconventional setting like at the Zoo or at, you know, some place that was maybe outside of the sort of normal fashion runway kind of situation. And that if you had some sort of a catch like a theme or whatever that would maybe engage them. Definitely. And then you would get exposure. Okay. Through the press, via the press and... That's definitely a valid thing because you are physically putting your work out there on display in a very public forum. And I say, I like your ideas of, you know, unconventional spaces or themes and that's really great. Especially if you're preaching to the choir, which is people who already love the fashion and are there with you. But the truth of the matter is, that when it comes to the press, and sometimes for most of the public, nobody cares. Nobody cares. Because it's just another fashion show. You made clothes and you're putting them on models and great. You know, and if I'm interested I'll come, I'm not interested I'm not come. So this brings us back to the segment where we were talking about stories. We want to give them a reason to come other than the clothes. Because the truth of the matter is that they expect us to do our job. They know we're a designer. And they're expecting pretty, well-made, well-fitting clothes. And if we did that we're proud and we're excited because we're like I did that, right? But here you have to give the public and the press much, much more. So this is where our story-telling techniques come into play. So if we do have a theme, and we have explored who we are as a designer, like with your designs, for instance, you have this incredible hook which is, you know, special occasion wear and then the repurposing. And I mean I just think that is so unusual it's captured my imagination. So I think, you know, working with that, for instance, could be a great tool for creating the story around it. So instead of promoting the fact that you're doing a fashion show, promoting the experience of the past six months of you going to people's homes and checking out their fabrics and creating things. That's a story that someone who is a reader of the publication or a watcher of the show is going to get behind, right? So and it's something natural and it's not like, you know, an invention. It's actually part of what you do. But you need to think that far in advance to promote in terms of saying what's the story behind why am I more important on someone's radar. Like you almost want to think that you're showing against someone else at the same time. And you go why would they come to me? You know, let's say we're both evening wear designers, that kind of thing, why do they want to come to me? Or why do they want to write about me? And I think that's the key. And that's why we want to do all that sort of work with the story-telling. Because then we always, I always used to forget in the beginning, I thought, you know, that was the news. I'm doing a show. That is not the news. So, you know, and with the press often they're so inundated you have to do the work of creating the story and delivering it to them. Supplying pictures even sometimes of, you know, of all your visits. Because if they can they'll go and re-shoot things for themselves, but if they can't they have a resource in you. And I've had writers actually lift complete things out of the press releases I create, paragraphs, and just basically include it in their article as part of their article. 'Cause, you know, they're in a time crunch and this might not be breaking news, but they like the story and it has human interest. So you want to do that work beforehand. So any other... [Red-Haired Woman] I had a comment. Yeah. Yeah go ahead. Oh well, I listening to you talk, I'm not sure this is the same thing but... About 10 years ago I've done two fashion shows and they were mainly for, as fundraisers. And so what I did, I was in charge of picking the outfits and pairing them with music. Okay. Which was quite something, lemme tell ya'. (Jay laughs) But I think maybe as starting out, if you attach yourself to something else, like you said a reason to be there. Exaclty. And one of the fashion shows I did was, it's kind of a long story, but basically the theme was World War II. 'Cause I was living out in the islands and it was about the liberation of this island from in World War II. Right. And so we paired, it was like 60 years or something, so we paired the them of World War II with modern day kind of evening wear and leisure clothes. It was kind of a here's the arc of where we were. Right where we've gone. And where we are now. And we actually got quite a bit of exposure on that. And we made quite a bit of money. Well, I mean charities are definitely a great, especially if they're close to your heart and they really mean something, 'cause you can start to craft almost re-craft a story that relates to that. Because of what's important to you. [Red-Haired Woman] Right, but even some of the clothes sold too. Oh, well that's even better. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, but that's again another example of why they would write about it. Because there's history there. There's some sort of dynamic that you've created between then and now and I mean that becomes a really valuable story. So excellent. Anybody else have any reasons why they might want to put on a fashion show? In the chatrooms, Abby Lynn was also talking about doing charity auctions but also Fashion Time had said I want to find an innovative way to show off my clothes and create a vibe for my audience. And let's see there was one other one, in terms of Abby Lynn saying for the purpose of the fashion show what she would want to get out of it. Everyone to have a good time, to feel the message of the collection, connect with the audience so they could see themselves in some of the clothes and then for them to tell people about it. Well that last one is really interesting 'cause I think like when you think about things like seeing themselves in the clothing, a lot of times designers will put people from the community into their shows and very specifically. You know, that's a way of tying the community. Because everybody rallies around when that person comes out if it's a news anchor or, you know, somebody in the community. And so that's a useful tool and I would say that that's a really valid point because it connects with the audience. The other thing is to think about how you might reinvent the whole idea of a runway presentation to a place where they have a better connection to it. And we've talk a little bit about that earlier with like installations and things like that. So kind of doing hybrids of ideas that are event driven, but that you can make them, you know, really unique and that people can be very, for it to be accessible for people. Cool. Yeah, I was kind of thinking along the same lines of like collaboration. The last show that I helped out with, we had Tom Douglas, who is like a local foodie he owns a lot restaurants in Seattle, come out. And they did like a food fusion with the fashion. And I felt like it got a lot, I would have never have thought of it originally. It was the designer at the time who I was helping put it on for, her original idea. But I was just like this is great 'cause it got such a variety of people into the audience. Whereas you already have the people who are interested in fashion coming out, but like food kind of unites everyone. (laughter) And I also thought that, when I think it was Valentino who just did the fashion show where they brought Zoolander out at the end? Oh, yes. Yeah, and I was just like, that rallied so many people. Like I have a lot of friends who are not as interested in fashion and like it was just something I was hearing about everywhere. Yeah. Like it was all over social media and like people talking about it. I'm like this is really cool 'cause it got a lot, like a whole new level. A lot of exposure. And it speaks to something we touched on earlier, the wit of it. So having a sense of humor about it. I mean, not every designer is going to play like that. Some people are very serious and that's what they're serving up. But, you know, to play with that humor and wit and the unexpected. And I think that speaks to what we said earlier about those memorable moments. So I think that's very valid. So, okay, we talked about promotion and the collaboration. So what kind of venue would best suit your style? So with your evening wear, what do you think is important? So let's talk about it, a special occasion, right? Being key, special being the key word. Yeah, an obvious place would be some sort of a wedding venue or something that somebody would think about as a place where they would consider having their wedding. So it already is sort of set up to look like that kind of a place. Exactly. Yeah. I mean, and it doesn't have to be that you create a set, but saying what kind of venues are my customers using? Because it may not be a hotel. It may be something very avant garde. So you wanna ask yourself which one reflects my customer more? [Silver-Haired Woman] Definitely, yeah. And I'm just curious if you were showing off your cool new steampunk collection (laughs), what might be a fun venue? Like here in Seattle, let's say. That you think would be a great place to show it off. I actually think I would do that down at, what's it the Underground downtown? Yeah. Yeah I think I'd do it at the Underground, Pioneer Square. Or the train station. Yeah, something like that. I like that. And the Underground is a... Well it used to be Seattle, but it's... Maybe someone can explain that better. It's a whole lower level in Seattle that's historic that was, has all the what you used to be. Right it was kind of bricked up. [Silver-Haired Woman] And covered over. And they do ghost tours and stuff down there now. It's like catacombs. That sounds amazing. That sounds absolutely amazing. And that would be, again not just for the press, and you spoke to this earlier of doing sort of an unexpected venue, but it plays into the story. It plays into the history. It plays into all the things that are valuable to you. So what would the theme of your collection, I mean would the theme of your collection be extended into the aesthetics of the show? And I think with both of you, like what you talked about in terms of, you know, special occasion going to a wedding venue, and then also the steampunk, going to an atmosphere that would feel like you could almost, you know, it makes sense. You know, it's a reflection of it, is really great, but I don't want to discount like that white box. Because I think for instance, although we think of fashion shows as live events, there are a lot of fashion designers who might use a white studio and have models coming out and it's something you shoot and play online. And it's this controlled experience. Viktor & Rolf did one of the coolest shows online. It was one of the first, one of the early live stream shows. Well I should say it was live stream, it was streamed online. And they used one model. So this is incredibly economical too. One model and it was all about the editing. So it was a fashion show virtual runway. They even created, I think, the venue virtually. Like through graphic design, I mean design. And the same model kept coming back and at certain points through the miracle of editing, she crossed herself. So really, really simple. So with technology and, you know, creative people behind filming and graphics, you can create an online event, you know, a virtual event. Yes? So what you're talking about is not necessarily a virtual event, but with the steampunk, since the idea of steampunk is kind of Victorian with a Victorian's look at what the future might be. Yes. Would be to take steampunk and put it in kind of a 2001: Space Odyssey type setting. Yes that would be this incredible twist. [Red-Haired Woman] Be a juxtaposition of... Yes and it goes back again to our Hollywood pitch. It's like mixing things up. It's saying what's the formula you want to use? Because it can be a formula that kind of the elements relate to each other there's just a slight variation, or drastically different that are meant to sort of clash and collide. So very cool. And then what you could you incorporate into your show to shock and awe the audience? And again it doesn't have to be huge shock and awe. It could just be a beautiful like ah. You know, like when something happens. Well I was impressed. I think, was it Karl Lagerfeld who had some the son of one of the models was in the show. And it was shocking to see a little child in this, you know, extravaganza of a fashion show and it got a ton of press. Exactly. Because this boy was adorable and you know with his father That helps (laughs). Right. I mean, but it really gave just a little extra oh, that's a different idea putting this little kid in these drag clothes. And that's tugging at a couple of, you know, strings. You know, in terms of, oh this sweet factor how charming. And, you know, again that's a strategy, because it could have been a whole different type of interjection into the show, right? It could be something that was just really wild. And, you know, being very disruptive. So you want to think about what this element would be. So I'm just curious, does anybody have any other shock and awe, maybe not that you've thought about for your show, but maybe that you've experienced? Because you've also gone to shows or even other types of events. Yeah, well I was thinking, I don't recall who did this. But there was a one spring fashion show that I watched and it was all kind of floral-inspired. Not to a literal sense, but it was in their ending garment was a dress, a gown, completely made out of flowers. And it was neat because the whole show although floral you kind of think of a light, happy print, it had like kind of this dark twist to it. And the ending gown was literally kind of like falling apart as walking out, like it would trail flowers and leaves, it was kind of this cool destruction to it. It was like a beautiful made, impractical garment, but like it was a good like art piece at the end. So I feel like ending on a strong, maybe like unexpected piece that ties in, but maybe not... Real theater at the end. This real punctuation mark I call it. In the traditional fashion show, sort of old school, designers always had a bride at the end. So nowadays that's not as common, because bridal has kind of become it's own thing. But that could be a version of that, could be really great. And even things like if you were doing bridal wear, let's say, I'll never forget I saw this beautiful wedding gown. It was pure, pure white and exquisite. Just shy of the floor and then just when she moved, you saw that all the crinolines underneath were red. So the designer's obviously making a statement. I don't know what it is. We won't even dare to understand. But it was amazing because it was this little rim of color. I've seen designers do that with the accessories. Like a beautiful white gown, but, you know, leopard shoes and red stockings. You know, where you just get that little hint. And you're playing with the personality of the, in bridal you're playing with the personality of the bride, but in fashion design you can be kind of expressing yourself and introducing these little elements that are your either sene of humor, or sense of theater, or sense of art. So, good. Yes. Well I think what might be interesting in the future and maybe somebody's already doing it, I don't know. But I'm really fascinated by those 3D printers. Oh, yeah. And to somehow incorporate, I don't actually know how you would do it, but to incorporate that into a show. Yeah. Along with, or maybe a separate show would be the use of holograms, wasn't it Alexander McQueen did-- Alexander McQueen did similar things on both those fronts. Yeah. And I think it's funny, with the 3D printing, I don't think it's technically fast enough anymore, I mean yet I should say. But I could imagine, because of Alexander McQueen, he had shows with lots of technical machines. There's one where this girl comes out and she's wearing this white dress and she's on a turntable and these mechanized arms are spraying paint onto her so they're creating the fabric on the model. And it's very theatrical, but also, you know, like with 3D printing it could be something, there are a lot of fashion out there happening now in 3D printing, there's a big movement in it. And to think about how onstage maybe part of that awe is the fact that that 3D machine is printing something and by the very last model she puts it on. You know, so the length of the show was producing a garment or an accessory that becomes part of the show. So, you know, a lot of great things. And you can be inspired by other, I mean that's definitely taking from a whole other industry.

Class Description

Fashion shows are a great way to generate interest in your work and get in front of a buying audience. Get the why, when and how of putting one together in Produce a Fashion Show with Jay Calderin.

Jay is a veteran of the fashion industry and in this class, he’ll offer invaluable insights on producing a successful show. 

You’ll learn how to:
  • Develop a concept and build a team
  • Create a timeline and checklist
  • Manage all aspects of the show
  • Take advantage of the post-show buzz
You’ll get tips on everything from promotions to operations. Jay will also help you get press interested in your event and guide you through the crucial post-show follow-up process.

A well-produced fashion show can be a powerful tool for boosting your business, but they aren’t easy to pull off. Get the inside scoop on making yours great with Produce a Fashion Show with Jay Calderin.

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