Ever Considered a Fashion Show for Your Clients? Five Helpful Hints
We all have to wear clothes, so who doesn’t like fashion, right? OK, I can think of several individuals who would rather run through a wall than sit through a fashion show. However, a fashion show is definitely a crowd favorite. So much so, that it seems to be an automatic default for many organizations when planning events, along with cocktail parties and networking socials.
Fashion shows are also one of the most underestimated as far as event planning, coordination and onsite management are concerned. Organizing a major circus with lions, tigers and bears is almost easier, yet a fashion show with all its glamour is something that almost always come to mind. As in, “Ooooh! Let’s do a fashion show!”
It’s hard for some to imagine how much work goes on behind the scenes of a fashion event, especially since a great deal of work will go on for months and once the show goes on, it may be over in less than 30 minutes. The challenge is that there are several moving parts involved when orchestrating a fashion show, from the backstage frenzy to front-of-house management and attendees. Then at one magical point-in-time, it all comes together.
The excitement of coordinating a fashion show isn’t going to go away anytime soon, so here are some helpful hints for any non-fashion organizations who are thinking about adding a fundraising fashion show or fashion show component into their events mix. Aside from time, resources (i.e money and talent) and research, you’ll also need to ask yourself a few questions:
Who is coming to the show?
Remember how I mentioned that some people would rather run through a wall? Make sure your idea for a fashion show is an ideal fit for your organization and list of contacts. Making someone sit through an event that no one thinks is cool is equally painful for the participants (i.e. designers, models, etc.). Be sure your target audience is open to the idea and it’s not just an eager handful of individuals within your organization.
What is the theme for your fashion show?
This will help you to identify the overall feel for your event and also give you an idea of the type of clothing you will want to have showcased. Think you can’t have an entire fashion show based on one type of clothing? Consider Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim, where there are more different types of swimwear than meets the imagination and each year, their “Swim” theme changes. The theme also helps with developing consistent branding for your event.
When are you hosting this event? Map out your timeline.
Identifying the date for your event will help you plot out your timeline so that you know what needs to occur leading up to the show. On your timeline you’ll want to knock out your most difficult tasks first and outline all details (e.g. music, stage, A/V, hair and make-up, etc.) Planning for a show should occur (depending on the size and scope), at an absolute minimum, at least three (3) months out.
Where are you hosting this event?
As with all events, venue selection is critical but it’s even more important with a fashion show. You not only have to think about your customer event space, but your internal, behind-the-scenes clientele in the form of 5’11’ models. So you’ll have your actual space that seats [insert your #], but you’ll need to have ample space “backstage” to accommodate models, hair and make-up, clothing racks and crew. Professional models have changed in itty, bitty spaces, but that’s obviously not comfortable. Don’t forget your backstage space.
What are the models (and you) going to wear?
Notice how I saved this bullet for last because often this is the primary thing people think about when planning fashion shows. After all, it’s the most fun! This bullet isn’t necessarily in order of importance, as you can pick your designer brand based on your theme or work your theme around the selected brand. The more seasoned the designer, the more experience s/he will have with runway shows and fashion events. The overall production is part of their brand experience, so the event set-up and all of the above will be important.
Even if you decide to hire a company experienced in producing fashion shows (recommended) to handle your event logistics, you’ll want to have a good idea of some of the overall details above. Imagine missing one of these details, for instance, lights, and that may be a last minute expense that could negatively impact your budget.
What unique or non-traditional events have you incorporated into your organization? How was the experience? What tips do you have to share?
Nancy Vaughn is an entrepreneur and principal, PR & Marketing Director of White Book Agency, a public relations, marketing and special events firm. With more than 16+ years in the communication field, Vaughn leads the development of publicity and marketing campaigns that improve the visibility of businesses and entrepreneurs across the country. She has garnered national, regional and local editorial media placements for clients in industries ranging from fashion to information technology. Nancy’s agency has been recognized in MuckRack.com’s Best PRs of 2011, and she has been featured as a Rising Star in the award-winning publication, Tampa Bay Times (formerly St. Petersburg Times) and is called upon frequently by media outlets for her PR/business knowledge and industry connections.