There are many words that could concisely describe my first runway show experience. It was exhilarating, exciting, motivating, annoying, chaotic, tiring, overwhelming, inspiring and moving but not in that particular order. I arrived at the Yak bar in Flinders Lane around 5 pm, the actual event was supposed to start at 7 pm, so I felt it was little too early but I was surprised to find out that the models have been there since 1 pm. Lauren Aitken from Scene Model Management was the first one to greet me, we have not seen each other since the photo shoot we were involved in with amazing photographer Josie Lee about a year (or more) ago but it was as if we saw each other few days ago and I was so comfortable talking with her and her equally gorgeous fiancée Jarrod, which is very unlike me, I would have felt slightly out of place with a tall, slender, and beautiful young lady and a tall, muscular and handsome young man but there is something about Lauren and Jarrod that puts people at ease, they are not at all intimidating, on the contrary, they are very inviting and warm but still with the strong presence one would expect from great models. I guess only the truly confident people can manage to combine the best of seemingly contradicting traits. Anyway, after I was done with admiring the beautiful couple, we went inside so that I can try some of my garments on Lauren. I wanted Lauren to open and close my show, and I had the line up in my mind but as Lauren tried my garments one by one, how I wanted my show to unfold slowly changed. Lauren looked good in everything and there is no way to describe how I felt when I saw her walking in my pink fairy floss gown and cream Heart of the Christ gown. It was very difficult to find other models to fit my garments; most of them were being fitted by someone else, who was not letting the models go until they tried at least 3 or 4 garments and save their runway walk and some of them were still in hair and make up. I couldn't find most of the models I have fitted on Friday, and the 7 pm was approaching at a frightening pace. Feeling the first rush of anxiety and panic, I ran across the room looking for models, and I found one sitting right next to my entourage. The model's name was Georgiana (hopefully I got the spelling right). She was tall and slender, and she had amazing look. She had fresh baby face but there was something slightly sinister and dangerous about her look, Innocence and seductiveness was melted into one. I asked Georgiana to put on my purple boucle dress with faux leather bow details on the sleeves. The sweetness of the dress and Georgiana was balanced with her darker side and the deep colour of the dress, the contradiction that I immediately fell in love with. I decided to put her in the denim coat dress with apron and pink frilled neck-piece, Georgiana could add some depth to the garment which could very well have looked too sweet and adolescent and black boucle top and maxi dress to bring out her dangerous side. After a thankfully brief encounter with quite unpleasant and aloof female model, I found Tina and snatched her right away to my little corner of the bar. Tina's beautifully dark skin contrasted very well with pastel colours, which I learned from the previous fitting. I gave her the fringed evening gown and a dress, I was also pleasantly surprised to see how darker colours suit her wonderfully, so I decided to give her the black coat with zipper detail. I was able to find Fi, and I gave her one of my favourite look of the collection; printed silk blouse with a choker, apron and chiffon skirt. I did not think I was very good at mixing colours and prints, but I thought although how the look was put together was quite eclectic, it somehow worked very well.
After fitting Fi, I had to move my garments to the runway backstage, because the guests started to pour into the bar. At that point I still had quite a few looks that I have not fitted on anyone, so I had my second rush of anxiety. Thankfully, jewelry designer Kusi Kim, who has provided me with beautiful pieces from her own collection as well as some original pieces specifically designed for my collection, helped me in organising the new line up and models. For the first time in few hours, I realised that I was nervous, I was quite shaky, and on that note it was the time for a glass of wine. There were loud musics spun by a dj and socialising, but only one thing was on my mind. I kept running back and forth form the bar to the runway to check every detail, I was so lucky to have Kusi to be there and help me out, I was busy running around but was not achieving much, it was Kusi who calmly organised everything and I realised how important it is to have a strong team of creative people with me. As far as I was concerned at the time, the garments were of less importance, without the helpers I had, I would not even be able to show them. Around 8 30 pm, people started lining up at the other end of the runway to get in, loud music started playing while ago but there was a crisis with the lighting and people were let in around 9 om. Considering the runway show was supposed to start at 8 pm, I thought we are starting at a very fashionably late time (I have been informed that many major fashion shows are rarely shown on time). Then finally, the show started. During the show, the backstage was truly chaotic. The backstage was not nearly big enough to accommodate models, designers, garments and helpers so everyone was squeezed in. There were models undressing (or more like being ripped away from the garments they were wearing) and models being dressed. There were designers frantically putting their looks together and helpers trying their best to not get in anyone's way ( which was extremely difficult considering the size of the backstage, everyone was in everyone's way). The audience would not have guessed what was going on in the backstage. Once the models were on the runway, they did not show any signs of confusion and completely professional. The music was perfect and the lighting looked amazing, the whole atmosphere was pitch perfect. After all the designers had their show, it was finally my turn. Felicity came to my rescue and pulled of two most difficult looks in my collection. If I thought helping other designers were chaotic, I was completely unprepared for the chaos I was about to witness. Most of the designers who stayed around helping others waiting for their own show have left to celebrate, and it was up to me, Kusi and the models to get the looks ready. I really cannot describe the whole process because I really do not remember anything, it was just one blur of flying garments and rushing models, but I would just like to say that most of the garments were wrecked during the ordeal. Almost at the end of my show, the music abruptly stopped and people started clapping, I took too long to prepare a model and the dj thought my show was over. my last and the worst rush of anxiety kicked in. The producer told me not to send anymore looks down the runway since the show was finished. I had only my best looks to show off and it looked like I wouldn't be able to. when I was just about to experience one of the greatest disappointment in years, Lauren told the producer that I needed to show all my collection and stormed out of the backstage, looking at her, I really thought God has sent me an angel, and I do not think anyone can argue with that. There were few seconds of initial shock and awkwardness from the audience and the dj when nobody really knew what was going on, but the music started playing again and and my show went on again. I quickly sent the models that were waiting down the runway and changed Lauren into the finale dress and I could not find a adequate word to say thank you ( I probably should have said thank you) because at that time, something so simple did not feel heart-felt enough for me. Then I made the biggest mistake. I was supposed to walk out with Lauren because I promised her that she would close the show, but I was totally caught up in the moment and ended up walking out with another model. I should have stayed calm and thought things through, there is no one to blame for my action but me. I was also horrified to know that no other designers before me walked the entire length of the runway (it still makes me cringe thinking about it, what would have other designers thought?). There was no way in knowing how the other designers finished their show and I just assumes, from all the fashion shows I saw on the internet, that was what all designers do at the end of their show. At the backstage when everything was over, I was overcome by joy and then embarrassment and then finally shame. I remembered about Lauren and how I should have acted.
I had a lot of fun during the whole process, I was extremely grateful for everyone involved with La Carte Blanche including Monique and Christian. I know as a student designer it is very difficult to be a part of a runway show and I was so thankful for the experience I was given. This was definitely a learning experience, there are still a lot that I have to get used to and be in control. I thought after the show I would be completely burnt out, and it was true that my body was very tired from all the late night sleeps and two in a row all-nighter sewing spree, but my mind was so inspired and motivated. I cannot help but feel that this was the first of many great runway shows of my own :)
Thank you again for everyone who was involved in my show.
Yak bar in the Flinders Lane, all the designers came early to fit the models.
I was excited to finally find an excuse to wear my John Galliano pants that I bought years ago
Fitting Lauren was extremely hard as she looked good in everything.
Images from www.fashionising.com
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