Behind The Scenes - 2016 Spur Fashion Show

The Spur Fashion Show is an annual charity event organized by Western’s premier social club, the Purple Spur Society. Never having done any modelling before, I decided to add the show to my list for getting that “best student experience” the University PR team raves about. I’m writing this with my show makeup still smeared on my face, and fake eyelashes still glued to my eyelids, but what I got out of modelling for “Western’s sexiest fashion show” was something far from material.


The Auditions

“Now, we’re going to ask you to twerk for us.” It was the end of my audition and I had never (successfully) twerked before, but did I do it in front of the exec team anyway? Of course I did (thank you, high school improv team).

By the time I became a first year at Western University, I had gone through my fair share of insecurity, upset and hurt. I was craving an outlet to be spontaneous and confident again, and Spur gave me exactly that.

When I got an email saying I had made the first cut, I stayed up pacing the hallway in my residence, practicing my walk in an uncomfortable pair of heels I brought from home (P.S. I apologize to whoever lives on the floor below me).

The second round of auditions were done in groups, and I thought it would be as unsuccessful as group projects in high school.

I was hugely mistaken.

For one thing, I was surprised by how outgoing everyone was. Being the only one out of my group of friends to audition for the show, I was going in blind. But the energy in the room was alive with returning models pumped for another year, and other newcomers excited to be welcomed into the fold.

In under an hour, my group members and I choreographed and auditioned with a country-inspired performance. Donning invisible lassos and cowboy hats, western style. I left with an overwhelming amount of new numbers in my phone.

The Rehearsals

One thing I never realized while watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, was just how much time and practice goes into the entire performance. Everything from how you stand, where you look and which foot you start walking with, is choreographed.

I was tripping over my toes in no time.

But eventually, things came together. I bought a new pair of heels, started to have fun thinking up new poses to try with my partner, and got used to having random articles of clothing thrown at me to try on during our fittings and photo shoots.

When there weren’t rehearsals to go to, there were model orientation nights and launch parties to attend, social events and promotion to be done for the show. All of this brought everyone together in a way that reminded me of my experience with theatre in high school. Feeling like a part of a cohesive group again made Western feel even more like home.

Suddenly, I couldn’t step foot on campus without seeing someone from Spur; yelling Hi from the back of the Spoke line or giving out a high-five on the way to class.


The Show

On the morning of March 5th, everyone showed up to London Music Hall; makeup-less, hair undone, and coffees in hand. I learned three major things during our dress rehearsals and stage prep.

Performance anxiety can bring out the best in people. The levels of nervousness varied between those who had a lot to no experience onstage, but wherever you turned there was someone supporting and cheering you on. From needing last minute tips on perfecting your runway walk, going for a lunch run while others were still working on a scene, to making sure no tags were sticking out of clothes before going onstage. Everyone had each other’s back, and the pep talks ran rampant.

Getting your hair and makeup done is a bonding experience. Here’s one thing to remember when someone is doing your makeup: NEVER peek before they’re finished. Otherwise, you’ll think you’re being made into an overly-contoured racoon. The end product is usually much more satisfying. But those who were uneasy about their final look, didn’t have to wait long before someone was lending out their makeup bag or curling iron. Touch-ups throughout the day became routine, giving compliments was second-nature, and bonding over conversations in the washroom only amped up the excitement for the show.

Close-quarters backstage means losing all hope of privacy. There was only one small room backstage to hold all of the clothes and models between scenes. Shoulder-to-shoulder we changed together, snuck in last-minute workouts, downed more Red Bull than I’d care to admit, and documented the entire crowded, sweaty experience all over Snapchat.

Minutes before the show, everyone huddled together for the Spur cheer, and the lights came on. Music blared and the crowd erupted as the rest of us on stand-by felt the adrenaline pumping, purple and proud through our veins.

I almost tripped stepping onto the stage, and our time in the spotlight felt over too soon. But finally showcasing all that we had worked on the past four months came to the most satisfying climax when you looked into the audience of familiar faces all cheering you on.

I’m not going to lie and say that a big part of owning it in a fashion show isn’t about looking and feeling attractive. Spur has definitely been stigmatized for being “a bunch of pretty people,” and to that I have to agree. Everyone in Spur is downright gorgeous. But it’s the kind of positive body image that has been fueled by an empowering group of people, motivating each other to be their healthiest and most confident selves.

Body confidence is something that looks different for everyone, but once you find it within yourself, why not flaunt it in flashing lights?