NYFW Insider: What It's Like To Work Backstage For Couture Fashion Week

new york
United States

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work backstage for New York Fashion Week? Look no further! I have the 411 on what happens behind the scenes of the glamorous Couture Fashion Week.

There are various jobs when working backstage, such as helping the models change, steaming gowns, assisting designers, checking on models in hair and makeup, being bombarded with questions about photographer accessibility, restrooms, and specific personnel, AND running across the venue to find missing apparel. It’s a truly unique experience for everyone, but there are a few things I did learn about being a noob in the fashion industry.

1. It’s important to take initiative

Don’t expect to be told what to do after an orientation or meeting prior to the day of the show. Unless approached to perform a specific task, you may be left hanging around to find something to do. That’s when I realized that if I didn’t step in, introduce myself, and prepare the models for makeup and hair, the confusion of prepping would persist. DO NOT, however, make any decisions that may interfere with management or the designer’s requests. The task is to create efficiency, not controversy.​

2. Network, Network, Network

You’ll meet so many people! From makeup artists to hairdressers, models, photographers, designers, interns, and independent companies, there is an array of people to work with and learn from. Every connection is truly unique and being able to help out or speak to them for just a few minutes may get you very far.​

3. The designers are special house guests, they should ALWAYS feel welcome

Every designer has their own agenda, that’s why being able to assist them simultaneously may be a tricky task. Regardless, there are responsibilities you must be ready to take on; this means any and all of their requests, especially if they arrive a few minutes before a show time. Yes, that’s a thing. 

4. “Wear COMFORTABLE shoes” Is NOT an understatement

Yes, I heard this a couple of times and all those times I found myself totally capable of running around in chunky heels. Did I do it? Yes. The second day when I felt comfortable enough to show up in them, my feet were destroyed by the end of the day. My toes were so stiff that I couldn’t even feel them. Wild, right? Not really if you ARE expected to run, literally, in case of a “fashion emergency.”

5. Consider the team your family  

I can’t stress how important teamwork is. “Teamwork makes the dream work”? YES. It’s not impossible, but truly difficult to be a versatile assistant backstage without at least two other pairs of hands. In fact, strategizing is VITAL to make it through the day, which is why being able to work with others will have the backstage running smoothly.

6. Having fun IS a rule

Working with Andres Aquino, International Designer and Producer, was truly motivational. Although extremely busy, he made sure to remind us, assistants, to breathe and have fun. Simple, right? Well, that notion of happiness can be lost through the turbulent waves of commotion backstage, but at the end of the day, you are surrounded by beautiful designs and talented individuals welcoming you to their world. There are plenty of ups and downs within a few days, but its all worth it! In fact, seeing the finished product of everyone’s hard work backstage, on the runway, leaves you in complete awe. Couture Fashion Week is only one of the many fashion shows that display a variety of beautiful, international designs. Thanks to the inclusivity of the producers and management, the audience is immersed fashion heaven. ​