Running a fashion show. A featured interview with Carl George
Running a fashion show is definitely the aspiration of a multitude of soon-to-be planners out there. We decided to ask Carl George to share few tips with us to inspire our readers that want to get involved in the business.Carl George is an event producer, designer and consultant to retailers, museums, Fortune 500 corporations, restaurateurs and philanthropic organizations – designing exceptional public spaces and staged events – environments that simply “wow” an audience.
A bit of Background
Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Carl George moved to New York City in 1980 where he soon became actively involved in the city’s art and nascent underground club scenes. During this time, Carl produced several experimental films that are exhibited internationally and are now part of the permanent collections at the Whitney, the Guggenheim, the New York Public Library and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).
While still actively involved in the East Village avant-garde art scene, Carl became involved in the fashion and home furnishings industry, ultimately working as an event and fashion show producer. His first fashion show was for the launch of Fendi, North America. He then acquired luxury brand clients Yves St. Laurent, Courreges, Charles Jourdan and Armani – solidly establishing himself as one of the premier event producers in New York, specializing in fashion, beauty, culture and the arts.
For more than fifteen years, Carl George traveled nationally and internationally, designing and producing launch parties, events, and public relations tours for some of the world’s best known corporations and brands including Germaine Monteil, Estee Lauder, Prescriptives, Origins, Joop!, Cool Water, Jil Sander, Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, Vogue, Vanity Fair and the Museum of Modern Art.
In 1998, Carl relocated to Los Angeles and once established, rapidly acquired such clients as The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Sony, Disney, Warner Brothers, Courvoisier, Jeremy Scott, Guess?, Valentino Rome, AT&T Wireless, Lexus, the Pacific Design Center, Platinum Guild International and numerous private clients.
Carl George’s work is marked by its inventiveness, whimsy and an impeccable attention to detail. Offering an unsurpassed level of service, Carl provides high-touch, “turn-key” service – whether designing unique and functional retail spaces, producing stunning large-scale events, or designing intimate social gatherings for a select, private clientele. You can find him here
Let’s see what he told us
– Three attributes the fashion show producer should have.
- strong organizational skills
- excellent communications skills (written and verbal)
- a thorough knowledge of art and fashion history, current, global art and fashion trends and movements, and a strong vision for production and set design that refers to all of the above.
– What would you recognize as the most important stakeholders when running a show?
I would answer that it is always the client and your ability, as a professional event producer, to listen and collaborate closely with the client to insure that you help them to obtain their vision, goals and objectives by enhancing the overall effect.
– The day of the show your survival kit will definitely include…
- A very smart and enthusiastic assistant who listens well and exceeds all of my expectations.
- A “right hand man / woman” to work the front of house and call the show. Someone, like myself, who has years of experience in live show production.
- An on site laptop with a printer to constantly update the show run and production schedule – up to the very last minute.
- A professional lighting / sound crew who want to please the fashion designer, and who understand my event design and the mood of the room, and who work to exceed all of my expectations.
- A professional public relations firm who will check in guests, handle celebrities, greet everyone warmly and seat all guests quickly. Manage all print and electronic media by positioning them advantageously and according to importance.
- Assign one of my best staff members to “shadow” the fashion designer / client and tend to his / her every need for the duration of the event.
- Excellent hair / makeup teams under the direction of positive and highly artistic lead designers who know how to collaborate creatively with me and the fashion designer (no bitchy ego please) and who also possess great time management skills (very important). I always use and recommend to use the best hair and makeup team.
- Good digital cameras and super fast printers to record any and all last minute changes to the looks or models wearing them.
- Professional dressers who come to the job prepared with kits for instant repairs, last minute pinning, sewing, fixing of broken earrings or heels. I always assign team captains and work with dressing “teams” this way.
- Professional models who arrive on time and in shape and who listen well. Models who “feel” the clothing and who feel beautiful wearing them. No actresses or actors please! I try to always give models some good runway prints after the show for their portfolios. They really appreciate it.
- Chilled pink champagne popped the minute after the designer takes his / her bows.
– The most memorable location that has hosted one of your events
It would have to the the “Platinum Rocks” show at the Couture Jewelry Conference at the Phoenician Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona sponsored by Vogue Magazine and the Platinum Guild International. I used gorgeous Ford models, set up the industrial, black rubber runway outside under the full moon and stars, had two $125,000 custom designed Harley Davidson motorcycles at the ends of the “T” shaped runway.
The models were outfitted in hard core punk rock fashions from a variety of sources including Gaultier, vintage Mugler, Vivienne Westwood, Frederick’s of Hollywood, thrift shop leather biker pants and chaps, and “barely legal” mini skirts… and to top it off, each of the girls was wearing $1,000,000 worth of platinum jewelry accented with diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.
Music by Heart, Pat Benetar, Courtney Love and Blondie. At the end of the show, two big fat biker Daddies mounted the Harley’s, revved up the engines and drove off of the runway with a beautiful biker chick /model on back. The audience of 1000 spectators went wild.
– Tell us a difficult situation you have faced and how you got out of it
Every event has hair raising complications that arise. A professional event producer handles them quickly, efficiently and intelligently and moves on.
– What would you suggest to those that want to be involved into the business?
Have a well rounded knowledge of:
- Art history
- Public relations
- Cultural anthropology
- Graphic design
- Product design
- Design history
- Fashion history
- Develop your communication skills (written and verbal)
- Learn to write an effective, award winning creative proposal (practice, practice, practice)
- Learn how to write an accurate “estimated” budget on an excel spreadsheet
- Become an effective networker
- Learn how to promote yourself confidently without fabricating or being overbearing
- Practice proper business protocol.
- Work for the best. Listen closely. Say less. Learn. Learn. Learn.
- Dress fashionably – however that best describes you.
- Take care of your money and it will take care of you.
- Always pay your vendors, in full and on time and they will never let you down. You will also gain respect and a great reputation generally.
- Keep your clients and contacts close. Treat them carefully, judiciously, and with respect.
- Read newspapers, periodicals and newsletters every day (most for free online)
- Keep your finger on the pulse – better yet, become the pulse!
- Stay ahead of the curve
- Never be afraid of competition. It’s healthy.
Thanks to Carl for sharing such great advice and experience. I invite you to read more about Carl here