Fashion shows are events unlike any other. Fast-paced and often highly charged productions, they need special planning to create and maintain that lively momentum. There are also many creative minds involved, as you’re likely working with designers who have a particular idea for their creations. The first step in planning a great fashion show is, therefore, to get inside the designer’s head and understand their vision.
Working with Designers
For designers, the fashion show is the culmination of months of work, representing a hefty investment both financial and creative. Do some initial research into previous shows featuring your designer’s work, and make note of favoured themes, preferred lighting effects, music styles and energy levels. If you’re working with multiple designers, this task is a little more complex, although when designers work together they understand that compromise is needed to present a show with a cohesive feel. You can change lighting and music styles for each designer but you can’t, for instance, change the layout of the catwalk or runway.
It helps to have an understanding of the fashion industry and history. If you don’t already, get to know the big fashion names, most sought-after models or major fashion photographers. You may not need the information directly, but it helps when communicating with designers who most certainly will have this knowledge. Learn some jargon! A fashion show catwalk, for instance, has hot and cold spots determined by the lighting. Hot spots are where lights are brighter, with dimmer lighting used in the cold spots.
Match the venue with event style. Is it a wedding fashion show? If so, maybe a country house would be the perfect location. Or maybe a high tech city centre venue would better suit the market, style or theme of outfits modelled. Budget may dictate the choice of venue, depending who you’re organising the show for and how high profile it’s likely to be. You’ll need a venue with a public space big enough to erect the runway, and for this you should seek professional help if you’re hiring what you need. There are many different layouts and designs of catwalk, along with stages and suitable seating and lighting. You’ll also need somewhere for models to change, along with plenty of hanging space for outfits and areas for hair and makeup.
Choosing venues with experience in hosting fashion shows would be a big help, but if you have a clear enough vision of what you want to achieve, and a big enough budget to make it happen, this isn’t vital. If it’s an outdoor event, consider a marquee to protect models and guests from the weather. Marquees also surround and hold the sound, so music is clearer and announcer’s voices won’t get blown away. Allow plenty of time. You’ll need at least several months and even up to a year to plan and hire all the specialist staging equipment and people.
PR, Marketing and Fundraising
Fundamental to a successful fashion show is early publicity. Who are the buyers, investors, writers and photographers you should invite? Send out promotional materials early to give these important people plenty of time to book space in busy schedules.
As well as identifying fashion names and experts, you need to know who else to have on your guest list:
- Identify your audience: know their age, income, ethnicity, and education level. Know where they hang out online so you can target your social campaigns. Get to understand the psychographic information of the group, such as hobbies they enjoy and the types of shops they prefer. If your target audience is older and maybe not especially interested in the digital age, newspaper or magazine ads could reach more of them than online promotions.
- Encourage everyone involved to help with marketing. Provide models with email signatures, prepare text snippets or tweets they can use on social platforms.
- Send out invitations to local dignitaries or celebrities, and ask for an RSVP so you can plan ahead.
- Use crowdsourcing if you need help with funding or are not sure about interest levels, especially for a show relying on ticket sales. The level of interest shown in a crowdfunding event is a good indication of its likely success. If you don’t get much response you can rethink the theme, date, or whatever else is putting people off.
One of the most vital tips is to have a Plan B. Because fashion shows involve so many people who all play a key role, there are sure to be some unexpected situations. Knowing what you’ll do when the unexpected happens prevents panic on the day.