By Daniela Christiansson and Chere Di Boscio
Fashion week is an exciting time for everyone involved. From the designers to the models to the photographers, there’s a lot of responsibility on everyone’s shoulders to ensure that every element of the show runs smoothly – and that’s just for one show.
Those scouting the models for fashion week turn to a runway models agency that has talent suitable for the shows. The agent then asks potential catwalk models to attend castings, where a handful will be selected for the runway.
The role of the runway model is huge. They’re hired to ensure good sales of the clothing on the catwalk; customers have to like what they see, and a good model can make any outfit look desirable. The best models are likely to feature in many different shows, so their schedules are manic leading up to and during the events. It may look easy and glamorous, but there’s a lot of hard work needed!
We asked one top model, Daniela Christiansson, what a day in the life of a top model during Fashion Week is really like, and she should know: she’s walked for top designers around the world, appeared in major commercials such as one for YSL makep (co-starring with Cara Delevingne), and is also the founder of Green Fashion Week. Here’s what she had to say.
A Day In The Life Of A Top Model
Fashion Week Fittings
Once hired for a particular fashion show, models are expected to attend all fittings for the garments that they will be wearing. Fitters or designers will pin the items to fit the model’s frame, which may take some time, and then the model returns for another fitting to ensure that everything is sewn correctly and looks just right.
Daniela says: “Basically, you are trying on all the clothes you will wear during the catwalk. The designers try different looks on the models and decide which outfit looks best on who. Just because you are called to a fitting doesn’t mean you will walk in the show. It depends if the designer likes how the clothes look on you, if you fit them, and if you match the image the designer has in mind.
For example, if the models are all the same height and one model taller or shorter, it is possible the designer won’t book her, just because of this and not because the looks do not fit the model.
Normally, you do a casting before doing the fitting. At a first selection of the models, often the designer is not present during the casting. The fitting is another selection before confirming the models of the catwalk. Normally the designer is there during the fittings, but not always.
Each model is called at different hours to do the fitting. It can take some time or be very quick, depending on the brand. When you’ve arrived, the clothes have already been selected for you. During fashion weeks, the fitting is often the day before the show, so everything happens very quickly and you can get several fitting and show appointments in a day. The life of a top model can be very very intense!
During a fitting, they also always take photos of you with the looks on, and already create a walking order for the catwalk. So you can already have an idea of what’s going to happen, which is nice for the model, but changes can and do happen.”
Typically, a rehearsal date will be scheduled with the other models for a run through the show so that everyone knows their place and the pace of the show. There will be someone running behind the scenes making sure you are in the correct position in the lineup, but a knowledgeable and compliant model is always a welcome one.
“During rehearsals, you discover the location, the choreography, the music and sometimes the order but it is always very basic. You walk two or three times down the catwalk just to remember the way and pace, and it is often done quickly before the show while you are having your hair and makeup done so you are wearing your own clothes at this point, and look quite funny because you can be doing it with your hair and makeup done halfway!
If the choreography is more complex, then normally you get more information, specific roles, order etc and it can take more time. But rehearsals are normally quite funny and relaxed – but again, it depends a lot of the person in charge of it, if the person has experience as well or not,” says Daniela.
The First Day of Fashion Week
The working life of a top model starts early! Models need to set their alarms for an early start and expect a late finish, depending on how many shows they are in that day. They have to arrive on time at the location, usually a couple of hours before the show starts – it can be earlier depending on the designer and the model’s status in the industry.
“I wake up 20 minutes before the time I must leave the house. I don’t need to do much, I just need to get out of bed, get dressed, wash my face and teeth and go. I can’t go there with make-up and my hair must be washed the night before, so it is very basic before exiting the house.
Regarding breakfast, it really depends on the hour of the time that I must be at the location. There will always be food available at the location. I’ve never seen a client not thinking of its models and staff during fashion week.
Sometimes, I take some food with me just in case there are just some fruits or biscuits available and not a proper meal. But there are always some snacks and drinks available that you can have while having your hair and makeup done,” the model states.
Models will have their hair and make-up styled by the professional team hired by the fashion house. There may be some time to wait until they need to get dressed;. this would be a good time to go through the steps they need to follow on the catwalk. At this point, many models start to feel nervous.
Daniela says: “At your dressing station, you will have everything you need. Your outfits and accessories will be all ready to go and a dresser will help you change quickly in between looks. It’s important that you change into the correct outfit for the right time so the show runs smoothly.
Normally hair and make up don’t take that long during fashion week. There are so many models to be done up, and there are normally several hair and makeup artists working on each girl, so it goes by fast.”
The Show, At Last
Now is the moment the model is on display to hundreds of fashion editors, spectators, and photographers, who will splash her photo around the world via fashion magazines, blogs and to buyers and clients. What does it feel like? Daniela says:
“It is very exciting, I love to be on the catwalk. You get a big adrenaline rush – I enjoy being on the catwalk even if I am nervous at the same time! People are there to enjoy the show. You must go with the flow, feel the music, you can’t just be there just walking. I believe it can be felt if you are not feeling good. And your job is to represent the designer’s work well!
I think the shows I’ve enjoyed the most are the ones where the catwalk set, light and music are impressive. Fashion week is always amazing because of the incredible vibe that’s there, but it’s also amazing to do a catwalk show wearing a piece of jewelry that costs millions, like for Chopard, or to do a show that has never been done before in a historical place like at the Imperial Forums in Rome, as I did at Green Fashion Week.”
Keep On Moving
After the finale of the show, the model will have to rush to the next location and start all over again. Again, they have to arrive on time, and their hair, makeup and outfits will be changed to suit the next designer’s vision. Hair extensions, hair products and makeup will be quickly (and sometimes painfully!) removed and the model will be transformed into a new look.
She will likely have several outfit changes during one show, which must be done quickly. Daniela says:
“You have to pay attention to keep your hair and makeup fresh when changing outfits! There is always someone to help you, but sometimes they also make you lose time so you end up doing the change by yourself.”
That’s a Wrap
So, that’s a day in the life of a top model. When the shows are all complete, models will return to where they are staying, usually an apartment rental that hosts several models. After a few hours of sleep, they will be up early to repeat it all over again – sometimes, they may have to catch a flight to a new city to repeat the Fashion Week cycle there.
But it’s worth it: Daniela clearly loves her job, and after several years in the industry, she has gotten the hang of what happens each Fashion Week journey well enough to make it a fun and enjoyable experience.