What goes on behind the scenes in prepping for a runway show? More than you can imagine. A peak into how it this collection went down.
Inspiration - The process begins with a visual manhunt scouring for pictures, books, websites, visiting museums, filling the minds eye with art, color, shapes, history, pop culture, modernism - the brain is a super magnet and the attractive sticks.
Sketches - Pen to paper to bring a visual end goal.
Materials - A delicate, tedious, and at times frustrating process - finding the resources to perfectly execute sketches is what every designer hopes for, but knows how truly unrealistic it may be. Color, quality, quantity, availability, and location all come into play. The perfect material found online may be your only source - and they may only have 1 yard,in some remote location without access to FedEx - which leads to cost, time, and quantity limits causing a designer to limit the number of pieces produced, alter designs, or come up with new designs.
6 weeks & counting - Materials have been reviewed and purchased. Sketches become patterns and include instructions for construction and material usage. Representing the treasures of pirates past old coins with the Madeira cross are carved in wax. The goal is to produce 12-15 pieces. At this point I'm working 80 hours per week.
5 weeks - Materials are sorted and cataloged per piece. Five interns and a seamstress are hired. Production team that regularly makes fine/semi-precious begin work on casting the metal for the coins.
4 weeks - Interns in the studio five days a week - beading, sewing, cutting, etc. The seamstress is building shoulder pads. Molds for metal are complete, work on producing earrings, brooches, and buttons begin. Flights are booked.
3 weeks - Half the collection (6 pieces) are complete and with 24 hours notice shipped to Nashville for a PBS shoot the other designer is doing. Hotel booked.
2 weeks - Production team finish their work - earrings, brooches, and buttons come to the studio for final additions of very tiny beads that require tweezers and an incredibly steady hand.
1 week - Three pieces left to start and complete. The other half of collection arrives the afternoon before we fly out - pieces in the mailed packager are broken and require mending. Packing is so chaotically last minute, but requires cameras, tri-pods, computers, jewelry making supplies in case something breaks, delicately wrapping pieces in Press N Seal and packing them within layers of clothing in the hopes they don't break in transit.
3 days - 9am - 7pm - Fitting & More
Clothes - We need vessels to carry the art we have made. Models are selected and try on dress after dress.
Jewelry - What looks best on which outfit? Oh - there's another jewelry designer? We need another necklace - husband & daughter sent off, scouring Lisbon for beads.
Hair - Up? Down? Half up?
Photos - So many photos taken already. Every outfit (30 looks in total) gets a photo taken to plan order and maintain organization of each look. Thank goodness for iPhones.
2 days - Putting together one more necklace. Fixing two pieces that were broken during fitting.
1 day - Still beading. Charging iphones, cameras, battery back-ups - packing a suitcase for the day of show with everything I may possibly need - pliers, glue, double stick tape, pins, needles, thread, wire, jumprings, Press N Seal, water, deodorant, mascara, etc.
9AM - Packing and moving collections from fitting location to show location.
11AM - PBS crew filming. Clothing and jewelry being unpacked and organized.
12PM - Make-up and hair have arrived and set-up. Lunch with Embassy representative, designers and PBS crew.
3PM - Guess what - I'm still sewing on beads! Models have arrived and are getting make-up and hair done.
5PM - Line-Up. Models, designers, dressers all practice the show - several times over. It feels and looks way easier than it should. The space we (10 models, 4 dressers, 1 jewelry designer, and some hair stylists) need to change the models in is barely 200 square feet. And has two giant clothing racks.
30 minutes - Clothing is being steamed. Models are getting dressed. Jewelry for the first 9 looks goes on.
0 minutes - We're late!
-15 minutes - The models are giddy, wringing their hands, the makeup artists are fussing with lipstick, hair stylists are spraying and pinning. Jewelry falls and breaks - one less piece in the show.
And we begin - The plucking of a violin, an opera singer sweeps across the grandiose floor and models start walking (but it feels more like speed walking).
Skirts flying. Thin arms, bony elbows overhead. High heels trample dresses and toes. Shirts rip. Shoes stuck in pant legs delay looks, models reorder themselves. Hair stylists are now dressers too. Jewelry flies through the air. Stress and chaos and then...
Months forced into moments. Backstage chaos bubbles over, a glass of Madeira Port is thrust into my hand and we toast. We mingle with the Embassy guests and the models pose inside and outside for photos. The collections are re-packed and carried back to hotels. A few of us re-convene under the Portugal sky, huddled under blankets at an outdoor cafe nearly three hours later we're all still dewy with stress, but clamoring in the success.
Pack up, go home, and begin the process of organizing the studio, reviewing photos, social media, press, etc.