The top 5 tips for a cool fashion show

June 13, 2008   |   AUTHOR: Julius Solaris   |   POSTED IN: linkedin

Photo by: Peter Duhon

This is a collective effort of the Linkedin community to help you in running an unforgettable fashion show. We have a 1650+ Event Planning & Management Group there which I invite you to join. The community has so far answered on what makes an event outstanding, the top 5 qualities of the successful event manager , running your own event business and the best way to promote your event.

If you missed this chance, try answering the next question

Here is the original question:

To all the fashion show producers, planners, managers and coordinators. Share with us your secret weapons and tell us stories from your experience. We are ready to listen.

The best answer (the first you’ll see below) was selected, as always, according to my own preference. You can use comments to vote yours.

There are great insights and practical approaches, scroll to the end of the post because you might find the answer you were looking for.


- Valentina Giuffrè – International Event Manager and Communications Consultant says:

In my experience, best fashion designer know exactly how to realize great clothes and complete collection: a good fashion show production or organizer must keep in mind that to have a successful result it is fundamental to have a great team of consultant supporting the designer, people really well coordinated and working together to communicate and emphasize the fashion designer creativity and ideas.

So, in my opinion a good producer has to take care of everything from A to Z, but the clothes!

A professional fashion show oriented toward International press and buyers MUST:
1) Have a central, comfortable, wide LOCATION with nice foyer, big backstage with separate entrance and high ceiling (so you can have a great lighting design!). Better not daylight or with dim windows. Capacity for a minimum of 500 people (especially if you are in Fashion week calendar). Available for a minimum of 3 days.
2) Invest in a GREAT CASTING (about 20 models for about 50 outifts) and in an EXPERT CASTING DIRECTOR: selection of models it is not just a matter of beauty, it is more a matter of knowing the trend of the moment, understanding the taste of journalist, editors, photographers, and to be confident in dealing with agencies.
3) GIVE EMOTIONS. As more as people feel great emotions as more they will remember your show.(don’t forget press and buyers see “thousand” of shows in their life!!) Music, lighting, set, staging, makeup, hair, styling and catwalk must get across the audience the same message: the concept of the collection, which most of the time is a mix of emotions! Sometimes is good to use also parfumes in the venue of the show.
4) Treat all the audience like special guest: have to make them feel like they are coming to the designer open house. Maximum hospitality: simple cocktail or champagne, minimal finger food and nice souvenir on the sits.
5) Do special FINAL: use lighting or music or special effects at the end of the show and not while the girls are walking on catwalk during the show. And never ask the model to pose at the end of the catwalk!


- Stevie Wilson – Consultant for Brands and Web 2.0, Editor, Writer says:

For anyone planning a fashion show, there are some key things that are critical
1) make sure that the press (cast a wide net) and insure they have seats– as close as possible. While celebrities are great, the ones that write about the show really make the biggest pop
2) if goody bags are important, then get the make-up and hair company involved behind the scenes to donate a moderate amount of products. It doesn’t have to be a ton. Small bottles of water go a lot farther than minis of liquor but neither will hurt and include something slightly decadent like cookies or chocolate.
3) make sure you start the show within 15 minutes of the scheduled time– REALLY!! Particularly if you are in NYC or in LA, it’s respectful of the audience and their time
4) pick out music that won’t blow out someone’s eardrums
5) have some sort of program describing the looks in the show as well as your own photography and/or video of the event and get it up on the brand’s site and also on youtube or myspace.com

- Shava Nerad – Working at the intersection of society and technology management for 25 years says:

Here’s a tip or two from a non-professional in this field, but a professional woman with thoughts about fashion:

It’s hard times for a lot of folks. Make things practical, *and* fashionable.

Feature accessories for real lifestyles. Totes for knitting that have pizzazz. Headphones that don’t look like they came from Radio Shack. Laptop bags you’d be caught dead with.

I am sure that there are real women who get by all day with pint-size handbags and no brief or laptop bag. They are probably all models who have someone in their crew to carry all their makeup and such for them.

- Tiffany Bentley – National Marketing Coordinator at Triad Manufacturing says:

I’ve been in fashion for 11 years now and have walked many runways. Tips:

–Do not carpet the runway. This is good for nobody.
–Lighting is key – make sure you have proper and flattering lighting with lots of angles, colors. (You asked for “cool”).
–Models that have personality is very important if you are going for hip. Look for more dimension in the walk and an “edge” to the girls selected. Models ARE your show – put a lot of attention into the selection.
–Proper music choices should be heavily considered. Make sure it has a good beat (doesn’t urge the models to walk too fast, doesn’t make them want to crawl either), and it makes the audience feel engaged and interested.
–Don’t over-choreograph.
–Put energy and money into your stage. Don’t let the audience see any of your models, stylists, dressers, media backstage – this can be more interesting than what’s happening on the runway, and people will be distracted.
–Get your audience engaged pre and post-show. Have photographers, cocktails, etc.
–Hold it at an art gallery, outside in a cool area, in a warehouse space, a rooftop… use your imagination.

- Sudarshan Mazumdar – director marketing at fortis healthcare ltd says:

I have no experience in fashion…but will try my take on it

1. Models are important. Great attitude/great bodies/movements. Not too beautiful as that would distract attention from the garments

2.Clothes should be aspirational in looks/ design but practical to wear

3. Link the theme to a larger cause

4. Seating to bring media and key buyers close to ramp

5 Great music…peppy …but not so much that models have to walk too fast

- Aurora Bramble – Independent Internet Professional says:

a great fashion show includes:

- location (a garden is one version of cool an empty ballet studio is another)
- music (a virtuoso violinist a chamber orchestra a dj pick your style of cool)
- lighting
- flowers
- champagne (good champagne)
- gifts (if the designer designs perfume or makeup there’s the gift)

- Cora Majewski – Account Representative at Gail & Rice says:

Fashions shows are cool by nature. If you want to add unique elements you need to be sure it enhances and does not overwhelm your audience.
5. In pre production of the show, get as many details together as possible. It sounds obvious, but organization is key to a successful show. By coordinating the garments, shoes, accessories with the models days and weeks ahead of time, you give yourself the room to add creative elements.
4. Keep your objectives in mind; your focus is on the fashion. So if you are looking to create a very avant-garde show, make sure your elements are helping to focus on the fashion and not distracting form them. I was at a trunk style show where a path had not been properly cleared for the models to walk. Because everyone was so focused on keeping the atmosphere club-like and casual, the models could not get through which affected their timing and took away from the cohesiveness of it.
3. Have some sort of description of the pieces; whether it is in a program or if there designer or emcee wants to speak about the pieces. This adds another level by which the guests can help remember certain pieces after seeing them only for 30-45 seconds each.
2. Bring a bag of production goodies. (This is for first-timers mostly) Combs, nylons, safety pins, bobby pins, hair spray, a black marker, a lint roller, a shoe horn, extra lip gloss, black tape, double sided tape, etc… These will all come in handy at some point during your show.
1. Be prepared to improvise! Something will not go as you had planned, so the best way to handle it is to find a way to make it work to your advantage. I produced a shoe show recently, and our tall, Amazon-esque model had feet to match her height, and one of her shoes did not fit! The number on the shoe matched her usual foot size, but we all know how sizes work- and there were no larger sizes for her. Rather than having her sit out a round, we had her go barefoot and carry the shoes. It added a new element to the show and looked really fun.

- Michele Peck – You can find me at Point A Media says:

In addition to the other answers…

1. Invest in, script and rehearse a great emcee.
2. Be sure to mark the stage at run through.
3. Add transition elements via projections or interesting light cues; don’t forget transition music.
4. Don’t skimp on the goody bags.
5. Don’t forget to recognize the sponsors.
6. Make sure to feature reserved seats for press and VIPs.
7. Print one-sheets describing the designer, designs, models and noting sponsors to give to press.
8. Cast back-up models to prep for inevitable no-shows.

- R. Scott Frothingham – Partner at Key Search Marketing says:

edit your narrative … make sure the descriptions don’t go on longer than the walk and/or the narrative be longer than the show … rehearse your MC and rehearse your models

- Peter Metz – Principle/Creative Director, ZOOM.7 INC Meeting and Events Producers says:

Lots of good answers here. I think it’s interesting to note that many of the answers, with a very few simple word changes would apply to any event. (My personal fav being the “Start on Time!”)

I would add a couple more . . .

1) Understand exactly what the intent of the show is. It’s a fashion show and it’s supposed to sell clothes right? Not necessarily. We did a series of shows for an international trade development council and our mission was to support that countries “brand.” To show them as hip, creative, happening by showcasing local designers. With that in mind we could take a lot (I mean a lot) of liberties with the clothes and their presentation. We have done several shows that were much more about attitude and image than selling. Another one was a motorcycle company that wanted their dealers to look at the clothes and accessories differently. It was also considered an entertainment element. Again, more attitude less selling clothes.

2) Identify your audience and their state of mind. What are their demographics? What time of day is it? Is this a for profit or charity event? Is this part of a larger project? Are they sitting theater or at dinner rounds? How will they be dressed? What is their call to action when the show is over? Take all these (and many more) factors and translate that into hard choices about clothes, production, venue, staff.

3) Spend money to get the biggest bang for the buck. A few production effects, a knowledgeable, professional show staff, great music production can all go a long way to making this a step above and something that will generate buzz. And it is all about da buzz. An ancillary comment, think professionally. If it’s done on the cheap it will look every bit of that. This is your brand we are talking about. Do it right or go home.

4) Spend your money strategically. Don’t get talked into gee whiz effects because some producer or lighting guy thinks they are cool. (Or has some back at the shop and wants to move them out on your nickel,) Always go back to the intent and the audience. Let that shape your choices. Often a few more models will make the show run smoother and look more professional than 10 more moving lights or a budget busting video wall. Spend your money with understanding and a larger view.

5) Don’t underestimate what you are taking on. Too often a fashion show is considered an easy cheap add on. It ain’t that. It’s like building a house. It will cost more, take longer, be more frustrating, need more logistics and support than you ever imagined. Still, when it all comes together it’s magic.

And my bonus tip . . . Feed the poor girls. Just because they look skinny doesn’t mean they don’t eat. This is hard work. Bring in a little catering.

- Zulkifly Jamaludin – Salesman says:

i. Find the correct “theme”for your fashin show
ii. Have an ample time to for your guest RSVP and the participants feedback .
iii. Great team-work
iv. have some rehearsal a week prior to the event
v. have fun.

Ta-da & Good Luck

- Omar Aziz – Integration Manager says:

I was thinking that you can link the audience with a Personal Digital Assistant while they view the fashion show. They can make comments on the event in real time and actually buy the items being run down the show. The PDA would also let you input customer’s information.

- Tonia Sanders – Corporate Events Production Assistant says:

1. Don’t forget the double sided tape!!!

2. Make sure you have enough body makeup for any unexpected suntan lines or body blemishes on the models.

3. Have great dressers who are quick to assist the models backstage. Timing is everything. Especially for the model that is shown a lot.

4. Play a variety of music to set each mood as oppossed to the same boring techno track during the whole show.

5. Pack gift bags with REAL gifts, not just a bunch of unwanted swag!

Take a look at some tapes from the hottest shows at Fashion Week the previous year and make sure to not recreate ANY of that. What’s old is NOT new no matter what you heard!!!

- Jeff Mantler – Artist, Consultant, Speaker and Author says:

I know everyone has pretty much stated the obvious, however, my suggestions are:

1) Keep the model’s choreography simple so the focus remains on the apparel and accessories being featured not the model.

2) Use real up-beat music that fits today’s trends and the designer’s motifs.

3) Lighting is absolutely key and can make or break your show!!! Gelling is cool, but do it from behind as not to change the color of the apparel, you don’t want to mess with the buyers and the photographers images (creates color casting).

4) MULTIMEDIA – simulcasts your show on large screens to the right and left of the stage and webcast it. Send out bulk e-mail targeting buyers who may not be able to make the show. You can also use the webcast to generate consumer interest.

5) Meet and greet with the designer after the show for the media and a separate one for buyers. Make sure to have goodie bags and plenty of refreshments and hor’ derves for the buyers.

- Elena Luzan – Independent Non-Profit Organization Management Professional says:

N a m e s / F a c e s – get (local) celebrities/famous people to attend – and the rest will apply

- Rob McKenzie – Output Editor at Russia Today says:

As a television professional who’s filmed hundreds of fashion shows let me add my thoughts.
Ok you need the snappers to get the photos into newspapers and magazines, but don’t forget television. Television coverage can be so much more immediate. Generally when shooting a fashion show i would want two or three cameras to get the best coverage.
Remember each TV camera will need one square metre for its tripod in the photo pen.. make it big enough. Also when using two cameras they will need TWO angles .. a head on and a side view. Think about having a two-tier pen. one for snappers the other for TV. And when covering a show live, there needs to be another camera position closer to the start of the runway for the ‘return’ shot.
I have one pet hate, and that’s the uncontrolled marking of the press pen. It has to be organised, and proper priority given to the various media.

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  • http://mellemhimmelogjord.urbanblog.dk/ Kim

    That great reading, thank you for sharing, Kim

    Kims last blog post..KVINDER OG MODE

  • http://mellemhimmelogjord.urbanblog.dk/ Kim

    That great reading, thank you for sharing, Kim

    Kims last blog post..KVINDER OG MODE

  • http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/ Julius

    Thanks Kim

  • http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/ Julius

    Thanks Kim

  • http://hoejepiger.wordpress.com Henning

    Good to read all this content. Very innovative ideas, needless to say, but, I really thank you for posting….

  • http://hoejepiger.wordpress.com Henning

    Good to read all this content. Very innovative ideas, needless to say, but, I really thank you for posting….

  • http://24.dk/user/jessie/ Stephanie

    Oh wow! I am no fashion designer and far from a model but I do write articles for event planners and they definently have a strict format to stick to when it comes to describing the location. But I also wanted to say that I just adore how beautiful that model is that is pictured on this wonderful blog.

  • http://24.dk/user/jessie/ Stephanie

    Oh wow! I am no fashion designer and far from a model but I do write articles for event planners and they definently have a strict format to stick to when it comes to describing the location. But I also wanted to say that I just adore how beautiful that model is that is pictured on this wonderful blog.

  • http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/ Julius

    @Stephanie -
    You are very nice! Thank you!

  • http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/ Julius

    @Stephanie -
    You are very nice! Thank you!

  • http://www.beautyitems.com/ Beauty Items

    I am not a fashion designer but i agree to their tips because they all proven it a lot of times. Music, Lighting,Clothes,location and etc. is a part of it. I believe that make up is very important when it comes to fashion show because it helps the models to create different looks.

  • http://www.beautyitems.com/ Beauty Items

    I am not a fashion designer but i agree to their tips because they all proven it a lot of times. Music, Lighting,Clothes,location and etc. is a part of it. I believe that make up is very important when it comes to fashion show because it helps the models to create different looks.

  • http://www.wardrobeconnection.com.au/ wardrobe

    Bad music and lighting can torpedo the best outfits. If you set the correct mood then you are half way there already.

  • http://www.wardrobeconnection.com.au/ wardrobe

    Bad music and lighting can torpedo the best outfits. If you set the correct mood then you are half way there already.

  • http://www.gleni.it/ Giulia

    Well, I think everybody had a lot of good suggests/rules for a perfect show. In my opinion the nicer response had been Valentina Giuffrè’s one, with her 5 points she already transmitted me the feeling of a nice comfortable experience. She had been able to make me imagine this perfect show. A comfortable atmosphere helps to have a good impact. And it’s true that each collection is also composed of emotions, so why don’t show them? and what’s best to show them with lights, “party” (cocktails, small food, souvenirs), music and so on?
    Great ideas!!! :)

  • http://www.gleni.it/ Giulia

    Well, I think everybody had a lot of good suggests/rules for a perfect show. In my opinion the nicer response had been Valentina Giuffrè’s one, with her 5 points she already transmitted me the feeling of a nice comfortable experience. She had been able to make me imagine this perfect show. A comfortable atmosphere helps to have a good impact. And it’s true that each collection is also composed of emotions, so why don’t show them? and what’s best to show them with lights, “party” (cocktails, small food, souvenirs), music and so on?
    Great ideas!!! :)

  • http://www.pcscleaners.com/ Carpet Cleaners NY

    It is important in a fashion show to know the place, clothes to wear, food to prepare,and the make up of the model. The tips you provided is very helpful. Thanks!

  • http://www.universityloveconnection.com jielea

    I love to watch fashion show because it shows the creativity of a person. I think this is a must read for organizers of fashion shows. right?