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A College Student’s Backstage Look at New York Fashion Week

One of our Campus Correspondents, Zoe Hawryluk, got an exclusive look at New York Fashion Week this fall. I sat down to talk with her about her experience, so check out all the juicy details:


What took you to fashion week?

Me in Washington Square Park on the Saturday of NYFW!

I just got an internship with the online magazine More Lovely (shameless plug: @morelovelyme on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). We’re a really small magazine, but quickly growing! My roommate from freshman year worked for them over the summer, and they needed a writer who knew more about hair and makeup so they called me. I just started writing for their beauty section. Our Founder/Editor in Chief has tons of connections with beauty companies and beauty PR companies (that’s how we get our samples to review in our articles). One of the PR companies happened to be representing a bunch of hair and makeup teams working behind the scenes at fashion week, so they got us on the list of a couple shows. It was honestly so surreal when I got the phone call from my boss and when the emails with show details started pouring in. It’s honestly still surreal now.


Do you have a background in fashion? Did you have an interest in the industry before you went to NYFW?

The hair table at Nicole Miller.

YES! Well, I would like to say yes. I have no formal fashion design or cosmetology education, but I’ve been interested in fashion my whole life. I insisted on dressing myself from a very young age, and I have really fond memories of sitting on the couch all day with my mom watching reruns of Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model. My mom is a beauty queen so I was interested in makeup from a young age. When I was in high school, I headed up the costume team in our theater department. Our costume loft was my baby and I loved dressing people for shows and creating themes with costume design. I’ve always loved to get dressed and do my makeup in the morning, and I see it as a way to express myself through a form of art. I can experiment with something different and be someone different every day, and it all comes off at night so I can start over in the morning. So going to fashion week, for me, was like my whole life came full circle. 


What was your favorite show and why?

A vagina cape from the Namilia show!

I only got to see one, which was by design duo Namilia. We could have gone to two but it didn’t quite work out. But the Namilia show was insane — definitely the talk of a lot of designers. It was this baroque Elizabethan exploration of pornography. A lot of people thought it was bizarre, but I thought it was fascinating. I’m very feminist and very into the idea of de-stigmatizing the female body. With those images walked to the soundtrack of famous Disney tunes, the show felt like an homage to growing up as a woman. It avant-garde-ly portrayed the awkward bridge from innocent childhood to provocative adulthood. It was also probably one of my favorite shows to cover.


What was being backstage like?

Being backstage is WILD! For a couple of the shows we went to, the backstage area was just a small hallway or room and there was barely any room for the artists and models, much less press. For a couple shows, there were multiple rooms and hair would be in one and makeup would be in another so there would be people running back and forth. It was loud and hectic but there was this incredible system that each team had that made the whole thing run (seemingly) smoothly. There would be five people doing a model’s hair at once and there were press running around and oh look PR maven Kelly Cutrone just walked by. CASUAL!

A picture of the very small backstage area at Nicole Miller. (Photo taken by me @zoe_ba_bowie for More Lovely @morelovelyme)

I was surprised at how kind and genuine the hair and makeup artists were. You’d think that they would be snooty or something, but they were all really excited to talk with us and share their vision. We befriended artists that we would see at different shows over the weekend too. If you know me, you know I love makeup, and I got so many compliments and tips from the makeup artists we spent time with. They were so knowledgeable and cool and down to earth and I absolutely adored them.   

The gorgeous models we met! Peep Stacey Ann from Cycle 10 of America’s Next Top Model!!!!

The models were also really incredible. They were there, just doing their jobs, but every so often they would glance at you taking a picture of them and strike a pose. We got to talking with a model at the Adam Lippes show and she told us about her career and life and gave us tips for when we go abroad. She even followed us back on Instagram! Everyone is just normal people. Of course, there are going to be people who are snooty, but if they’re famous designers they probably deserve to be, but they stand out from everyone else. 


Did you pick up any makeup/hair tips?

Makeup artist Kabuki applying the infamous VAGINA EYE! using the Glaze by Danessa Myricks (Photo by me @zoe_ba_bowie for More Lovely @morelovelyme)  

I made sure I asked every makeup artist and hair stylist how a normal woman could recreate each look. For the more natural looks, it was pretty easy. But for the more wild looks, it was fun to hear what they recommended. The best advice I got was from the makeup designer for Namilia, Kabuki, on how to perfect the glossy eyeshadow look. Glossy, glassy eyeshadow has been a super popular trend in the fashion world for quite some time, but I haven’t figured out how to do it, much less perfect it. I’ve tried everything that Pinterest and Instagram tutorials have told me to do, but to no avail. For the show, Kabuki used ColorFix eyeshadow and top gloss “Glaze” by Danessa Myricks. He says it’s the only product that allows you to do the wet shadow look without it completely melting off. He loved it because for the makeup they used a pink shadow and a slightly darker pink liner and you can still see the line of color difference between the two, and it lasted for hours. I bet you can guess what I whipped out my credit card for when I got back to our hotel that night.


Can you give us any hints on trends we’ll see?

A model being casually stunning while casually striking a pose, looking natural and beautiful at the Nicole Miller show. (Photo by More Lovely @morelovelyme)

One thing I noticed was a huge emphasis on natural beauty. For the Nicole Miller, Adam Lippes, and Vivienne Tam show, the models had little makeup on, and whatever it was just enhanced their natural features. Eyeshadows were simple, one to two color monochromatic looks using browns or rose colors. Cheeks were rosy and lips were kept natural as well. At the Vivienne Tam show, the models didn’t even wear mascara. Kelli (their makeup artist) only had their lashes curled, nothing else. She said she is challenging women to embrace their natural beauty and wear their natural lashes, except just curled with no mascara. There are always going to be wacky looks at Fashion Week, but I feel like the culture of the fashion world is moving towards loving who you are and I love that.


Overall, did you like Fashion Week? Was it what you expected?

I absolutely adored it. Of course I wish I could have seen more shows, but it was more than I ever could have imagined. I expected it to be more scary and intimidating, and at first it was, but I had some incredible and meaningful conversations with pretty important people. I loved getting to wear whatever I want and express myself in front of people who matter in an industry I’ve always wanted to be a part of. Honestly, I’m low-key reconsidering what I was planning on doing after college because I loved it so much. 


Any tips for people who go in the future?

Me getting a lip plumping treatment from Perk Skincare at the Adam Lippes show.

NETWORK! Talk to everyone! Literally everyone. We befriended makeup artists and fashion design students and models. We talked to some girls from a skincare company and I got a free lip treatment and my friend got an entire facial for free.

Everyone there is so kind and wants to help you succeed. Don’t be afraid of anyone. They understand that everyone has a job to do, but if you go with the mindset of wanting to learn and absorb as much as you can, there is no doubt in my mind you’ll have an amazing time. 


Oh, and if you need advice on sneaking in somewhere, let me know.

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