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Produce a Fashion Show

Lesson 7 of 12

Show: Working with Front of House

Jay Calderin

Produce a Fashion Show

Jay Calderin

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Lesson Info

7. Show: Working with Front of House

Lesson Info

Show: Working with Front of House

Working with front of house. You need another management overseeing the front of house. You need someone who... I mean, in theory, it could be the same person who's seeing the big picture, but you want someone who's concentrating on front of house and knows all the elements in play, and every logistic and be prepared for it, someone who's comfortable with it. The tech check. You don't want to gloss over this because I've had people show up with what they think is music, and it's a blank thumb drive that they thought their music was on, and they accidentally erased it or whatever, and I err on the side of duplication of everything. I have redundancies on my redundancies. I'll put it on an iPod, I'll email it to myself, I'll do all these different versions, so I'll put it on a CD, and make sure I have it so that if anything goes wrong, we have an alternate. The key to this, too, is to remember, as I mentioned before, the importance of lighting. Besides the clean light that I usually reco...

mmend, you want to think about a strategy for the light that works for you. The ideal runway is sort of brightly lit so that it's evenly lit all the way down, and people looking at it from both directions and both sides get a nice experience. But what if you're on a budget and can't afford a big lighting setup? I've seen great shows where there are spotlights on different stages of the runway, and the models walk in and out of light, very intentionally. So you take a negative and make it the cool part of the show. And that show became really memorable because it was like a magic trick when the model just... And then she would pose there for a minute and then disappear. And it became this great little moment, and you were waiting for them to walk in. That's a great way to do a very simple fashion show, I mean, lighting-wise. And then sound, we talked a little bit about that earlier. Staging. I think besides what we talked about in terms of, do we want elevated? Do we want floor level? I think the other key is, how clean is the surface behind and under the model? I know, with us at the school, we do our shows in a hotel often, and the big ballrooms just have these ornate rugs. If you're doing a show that doesn't have an elevated runway and you're using the rug, you have to ask yourself, how can I use the rug? Because how can I let it be the setting? And often that will sort of dictate how you shoot the show. So instead of trying to shoot a runway show the way we see it in the pictures, you know, where it's head on and it's white, and, you know, I would love to do that, but the reality is that this is the framework we have. So then I shoot it more editorially, like about the happening. Like I'll shoot behind rows of seats so you see heads, and you see just this model, and it's the essence of the fashion show. Or I'll let the rug be a part of the look, you know? As long as it doesn't conflict too much with the outfit. So you want to ask yourself, this will inform all your decisions about how you record the content. Arrivals. I call it the step and repeat even if you don't have a step and repeat. But that essence of, what is that experience when someone shows up? So it could be that step and repeat like you see in Hollywood parties and openings where there are logos on a white backdrop and your guests actually stop, have their photo taken, and go in. Now they're doing it at weddings, and they're doing it at sweet 16s. So it's a common thing. It's basically getting your client or your audience into the spirit of it. It's also, if you're working on a big sort of bigger show and you want to thank people who are sponsors and things like that, it's a great place to put logos that isn't in the event, that isn't in the space for the event, and you're saying, thank you, you're getting photo ops that, again, are branding those sponsors, all that good stuff. But beyond that, when they walk into the space, you want to take that walk first. Like you want to go through that experience, like, when they get here, they're gonna stop and have their picture taken. Another thing you might want to consider is some people don't want their picture taken, so you might want to come up with a way for them to bypass it if they want to 'cause a lot of times they'll be standing there for a long time trying to get past while a picture's being taken. So you want to ask yourself, how can you allow that? So always respect your audience in that way. When they walk into the room, are there ushers? Is there a seating plan? Is it open seating? Is it zone seating? I recommend zone seating because it kind of gives you that first come, first serve, but you say, you're in zone A, or the green zone. You break up the audience into four and it's A, B, C, D or orange, green, blue, yellow, and they have a place to go, it feels special because it's been designated, you've blocked off your audience, and you can just let them take care of it. For more intense shows where you have to have certain seating, people seated front row, that kind of stuff, you can have ushers, you can have names on seats. You can do all that control stuff if you want, if that's important, but don't feel like you have to because I would say the only thing that you usually want to save in terms of seating at a show is the front row, mainly for the people you need to thank. And also, like I've had, at our shows, we make sure moms have front rows because all their kids in their show, it's like, no, we're putting every mom in the front row, especially graduates. So you want to think about how you want to manage that because that will be very important. You also don't want to keep people waiting too long, and if you do, make sure that they're having a good time, and whatever that means to your audience. It could be, there's a way to get a drink, there's other entertainment, there's something engaging them if there's gonna be a lag time between the time they arrive and the time they start the show. Okay, and then, finally, working with front of house. We have the extras or the takeaways. The gift bag, the program, those kinds of things, like what do you want to share with them? The one thing I would highly recommend, I mentioned the program earlier, about not making it just a list of thank-yous, like putting some content or something special in there. Maybe it's artwork by the designer, you know, sketches that feel like, oh, I'm gonna save that because they're gonna be famous, or I want to support them or whatever it is. And then also thinking about, like when you think about gift bags 'cause people will say, oh, I'm gonna get a lot of stuff for the gift bag, and what they normally get are coupons and things like that, lots of paper. Those bags get left behind like the bad programs. Ask yourself, if you could do one thing and actually make it a gift, like make it something that's special. I'll give you an example. A hair company might say, "Oh, I'll give you samples." like little samples. Say, I'd rather have one bottle of something for every bag, like one full-sized bottle. It's an actual gift. It's actually something that it's not gonna go away, and most companies will go that route because they can be the star of the bag. And then it gets very competitive. Then you can start to go, well, they're giving us, I think you should up your ante. So, you know. (laughs) So you can play that a little bit. But you want that gift bag to have value. It should really be a gift. Alright. So now... Where are we? There we go. Okay, so now I'm gonna turn it over on you guys, but we're not gonna talk necessarily about you worrying about how to do it, but we've all been to events, we've all been to shows. What are some of your best experiences as a guest? Like, can you think of one show or an event, I mean, that's the reason I want to think of it as an experience, like, what was really special, that you have said "Oh, I would love to do that if I do an event." Can anyone think of anything in particular? Like a fashion show. It could be a wedding. It could be a party, you know, a great event, a charity event, but something that falls along the lines of the things we talked about in terms of that experience. What made you feel special? What made you feel like you were a part of it? Yeah? So the photo booth actually, I think, has been a reoccurring thing, and I think it's nice just 'cause we've even brought it in at CreativeLive, and it just gets a lot of hype. I think people like that extra step of having the option to be involved and have that like proof like, oh, I was here. and a part of this big event and big deal, and it's been used at weddings, and like New Year's parties, and especially runway events too. It's a real connection, and for the designer, this is a way of, we'll talk a little bit about extending the experience, but having that source of content where you've created all these images, you put them online and you let people tag themselves and repost, you're taking that event into a whole other realm. So that's a great example. The fashion show that I last worked on, we ended up getting one like really last minute, and it's kind of stressful. And I remember being in this kind of like humbug spirit about it, like, we're going through all these hoops to get this like silly thing, and it was just that, it like kind of, social media-wise, like marketed itself just because people wanted to have a picture. People love it. People love documenting what they're doing today. It's a great gift for you as a creative person or the event person because they are helping you get the word out there, and they're doing it, again, in a really authentic way. They're having fun, you're seeing them have fun. And even if you didn't have a photo booth, maybe you could set up a little space where people could do their selfie, have a selfie stick available for them to use it so they get to take their own picture, and then they'll post it. I was just at the Peabody Essex Museum, and they have this wonderful art exhibit, and you're not allowed to take pictures, but they took one of the paintings, actually, two of the paintings and had them printed on the wall. And you can put yourself in the painting and take a selfie. So they gave into that need and that desire that so many people have to, I need the selfie, or I need the snapshot. But they decided and they controlled it. So that could be something really fun, like steampunk for instance, you know, I keep thinking about that because I love it too, is having some sort of environment that you can take a selfie in is really fun. Anybody else? Yeah? Or put on one of your hats, exactly, very experiential. Alright. And the next one is, what are maybe some of the fun takeaways? Like a great gift bag that you remember, or something that you've taken away physically from an event. Anybody have any good gift bags? No? (laughs) See, that's a sign, I was right. (laughs) Not actually what was in the bag, per se, but the actual bag itself was like an actual like reusable tote, like kind of almost the size for like grocery bags, use it all the time. It's great. That's a perfect example. Even the bag itself was a useful item. And again, it has a memory attached to it. So that's really, really important. Yeah? It's about a question for you. Folks are wondering, who comes up with the ideas these days for Boston Fashion Week for those bags? And are there any fun things that you guys have done? Well, it's very event-specific, and I think that's the key. You don't want to be generic across the board. So, I mean, the very fact that that event that you went to, the tote was this usable item that you can use for shopping afterwards, that's a very conscious decision associated with that event. It's not gonna work for everything else, I mean, for everything. It could be the tiniest little thing. It could be a pin. It could be something like, you know, if you do jewelry, you're teaming up with a jeweler, it could be this one little item that they do as a promotional item, but that the person can actually wear that night. The choices are endless, but you do want to, I mean, realize it's Fashion Week, is that you want it to be specific and reflect all the hard work you've put into the event. It can't just be an add-on. Like, for instance, even the choice of the bag, even if you go with a regular paper bag, the color, the finish, the size. And also, is it something that... I mean, you've all been to events. Is it something that you actually want to carry around? You know? Like that bag that we had, sort of the large-scale hair samples, I mean, hair products. Those actually turned into these big, hefty bags of like actual product. I spoke to all different people because I was worried about it afterwards. I was saying, was that cumbersome? It was like, "No, I just went back to my car "and got my haul in the trunk, "and then I went back to the party." It was like, was that valuable to them? So you want to sometimes figure out, if it's gonna be that valuable, they're gonna go to the trouble of keeping it and saving it. Yes? We've been going to an event every year for about the last four or five years. I keep wanting to go back every year because it's a fun event, but also because I get a Tiffany wine glass. I'm working on a collection of eight. There we go. (laughs) But it keeps me going. A real investment in time. It keeps me going back. I said I enjoy the event, but I also really like the wine glass too. It's funny, when I used to shoot the New York shows, like in the early years, one of the best things was the editor's bag. It was this incredible bag that was actually a bag from a company, like a nap sack or a tote or a messenger bag. It had the logo of 7th on Sixth, which it was called at the time, and it was full of heavy-duty product. For photographers there was film at the time, that kind of dates me. There was all sorts of accessories, things like that. I mean, there are things that you say, I'm gonna go back, 'cause this is a great tie-in. This is just a shot from one of the Fashion Week events. You got to remember everybody involved. Like if you have that white runway and you have multiple shows, you want to make sure that runway stays beautiful. And you can never forget that team that's sort of on the ground, literally, taking care of your stuff, and making sure you anticipate it 'cause a lot of the New York shows, for instance, the runways will actually be covered with plastic or paper when guests come in, and it looks kind of like, you know, they're painting or something. But the minute the show happens, it just gets pulled off and revealed. Other than that, you have to have this serious control over your audience so that you don't step on it and ruin it for the show. 'Cause the key to a good show in this respect, in terms of staging is to make sure that every photograph and every bit of video is great. Another quick thing. With the rows like this, there's not a whole lot of room between that chair and the runway because we were in a tighter environment. A little tip: have whoever is introducing the show or announcing the event to have everyone uncross their legs. If their legs are near the runway... Sometimes you have the luxury of pulling the seats away, but when people cross their legs, they do two things. One, the leg or the foot juts into the photograph. So you have a beautiful gown with this foot sticking out, or, even worse for video, you have the bouncing leg. You know, someone is bouncing. And it's perfectly natural, but for the photograph, that's a big thing, and you'll find at New York shows, it's hysterical. The photographers in the pit right before the show start yelling at audience members. It's like, "Uncross your legs!" And then they do it in unison. I mean, because it's gonna ruin all of their shots. So you want to think in those terms, making sure you have an end product that's clean and beautiful. So you always have an on/off? One side is on, one side is off? Now that I'm thinking about it, I never thought about it. Oh, for the choreography of it you mean? Yeah. That's a nice circle, yeah, 'cause you don't have girls colliding into each other, but they're all different formulas. The one thing I would say, like an easy formula that works is if you have one girl at a time, I mean, 'cause you can do multiples and all that, but the general rule of thumb for me, like when I'm doing a really super simple show, is head of the runway, or at the entrance, at the stage, take a pause, not necessarily a pose, walk out half way, depending on the garment, a turn, but not like a stop and turn, but like as you're walking turn, again, depending on how wide the runway is, walk down to the end, pose for the photographers, and then start walking back, and you can either keep the turn and back or not, you leave, and when she reaches halfway up the runway, that's the time to send out the next girl, because if there's just a tiny little overlap, it feels like there's more flow. So the minute the girl is halfway back, and that's where that feeder comes in, she's seeing it or hearing it, she sends the next girl, and you have this nice little crossover, and it's great for photographs because you get this energy going.

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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