New York Fashion Week is one of the world’s four major fashion extravaganzas. During the festivities, designers show off their long-awaited collections to buyers, the press and the general public.
A lot can happen during these eight days. Trends are set, careers are made and models rule the runway. Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes? Luckily, I got to go. Even better, I was able to work as a NYFW public relations intern.
“Fashion week?” I thought, “Easy stuff. Show up, look good, watch models strut up and down a runway. How hard can it be?”
Turns out, it’s very hard.
- The first mistake many people make when working NYFW is giving into the temptation to wear high heels. They’re cute, sophisticated and make you a few inches closer to that unattainable model height, but they are a terrible idea. While working as an intern for a public relations agency, wearing high heels is considered a sin. At the end of the day, your feet will thank you for choosing those ugly flats, especially after you’ve carried seven garment bags from the Upper West Side to the World Trade Center.
- When signing up for NYFW, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Checking people into shows may seem like a breeze— just add a checkmark next to a name, right? Actually, it’s not that simple. The wealth in the air at NYFW is suffocating. Asking celebrities for their names might be an even bigger sin than wearing high heels. Ever seen “The Devil Wears Prada?” The iconic binder filled with pictures of the rich and famous are shockingly real, and you have to memorize the name and face of everyone in it. You might also have to show guests to their seats, so recognizing anyone who’s anyone before they step foot in the door is a must. And if you don’t? Oh, honey.
- If you are given some sort of schedule, consider yourself lucky. But be prepared to completely disregard it, and expect to work 16 hours a day instead. Pack a snack, although you probably won’t even have time to enjoy it. Be ready to fulfill any task that’s thrown your way, whether it’s hopping on the subway and heading to Brooklyn, buying everyone in the room a latte with almond milk or carrying your favorite actress’ dress to her apartment.
- Your favorite designer’s show is today? That’s cute. You may get lucky and catch a glance from behind the five rows of Getty photographers, but odds are, you’ll be too busy. Though there is usually an hour allocated for each show, know that it will never start on time and that most people will be late. And don’t get discouraged by the fact that so much preparation goes into a show that only lasts 10 minutes. Although the experience is short-lived, witnessing a fashion show is always enchanting. It doesn’t even matter if you’re watching from behind the scenes.
- Working NYFW is a workout. You’ll certainly get your steps in, and you’ll also burn twice the calories you would at a SoulCycle class. But the downside is that your body will be twice as sore. Interns are always the ones doing most of the physical labor, and they’re working for free. Oh, you thought fashion interns are getting paid for working 16 hours a day? Think again.
People often forget that fashion entails a lot of sleepless nights and physical labor. Behind every beautiful model is a team of hair and makeup stylists who spent hours working to create the perfect look. Behind every lavish event is an army of people planning, emailing and lifting furniture until they physically can’t do it anymore. Behind every Chanel-level artist is a designer in a cheap apartment who’s working several part-time jobs to make ends meet. Although the end result is exquisite, it wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and sacrifices of a team larger than the workforce of the Macy’s on 34th Street.
If you can handle NYFW, you can handle anything. After it’s all over, any task will seem trivial or even relaxing. Although getting through the week can be difficult at times, the feeling of watching a fashion show open and close is a breathtaking experience that makes up for the sleep deprivation. I highly recommend interning at NYFW to anyone with a passion for fashion. You’ll do great, as long as you’re a problem solver and a bit of an adrenaline junkie.