Despite the fact that most runway shows last just ten minutes, the planning and work leading up to the show can start almost a year in advance. Last year, I was responsible for the PR of the debut show for Australian activewear brand P.E Nation. While a year of planning would have been ideal, when we were given the opportunity to show in May after only launching in March, we turned around a show-stopping presentation in just under eight weeks.
We enlisted a team of experts—Lara Karamian event producer extraordinaire, Alice Babidge, acclaimed production and set designer, and DJ Sam Francisco and Sylvester Martinez of Yolanda Be Cool, who created a custom ‘90s playlist. Once the core crew was locked down, the sponsorship quest begun. This is probably the toughest part of fashion week because it’s extremely competitive and it’s not just brand awareness anymore, it’s about long-lasting relationships that actually make sense.
Keep scrolling to read all the little details about what it’s like to put together a fashion week show.
Pictured: P.E Nation Resort 17
Next on the list is the venue. On or offsite? Then it’s the actual set and production itself. This requires a lot of planning as you want to ensure it’s something different, you need to stand out amongst a sea of hungry designers all looking to do the same—keeping in mind the finished product also needs to be ‘PR-able’.
While this is going on, model castings are also happening. Lara initiates this part of the puzzle and as there’s a lot of competition between designers—as far as casting models and ensuring there’s enough time for models to get from one show to the next—decisions need to be made on the spot.
The PR strategy is created and about to be actioned. First there is an announcement to be drawn up and sent out, generating excitement that P.E Nation has been included in the schedule and next is compiling the guest list.
The guest list is always a hard one as there is the delegates list to consider (those attending both locally and internationally including media, buyers, influencers and celebrities) as well as those who have supported the brand—friends, family, and colleagues. But there is a set capacity, so it takes careful consideration when deciding who makes the list and who needs to be omitted. It’s strategic. As a debut designer, it’s about generating as much quality press as possible, so that means having to be a little cutthroat when necessary.
And on to the actual choreography of the presentation. It’s super considered, nothing is by chance, and it takes many revisions to get to the final version. The order in which the clothing appears is important, as well as the timing of the music and the integration with the lighting—you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
From a PR perspective, you’re thinking about that Instagram moment. The show is short so you need to create something that will last a season. Social media is really important, as it creates content that we can continue to use to promote the range—which isn’t set to drop for another six months. Because the setting for the P.E show was going to be dark, there was definitely apprehension from my side as to whether we could get ‘the shot’—but I know better than to argue with the visionaries Pip Edwards and Claire Tregoning when it comes to creative, I just had to make it work and thanks to Robin Hearfield, Life Without Andy and Lester Jones, we didn’t just get ‘the shot’, we got several.
In the background, the PR plan is still moving forward. My personal approach to PR is strategic and it’s about quality over quantity. I was mindful of our partnerships and obligations as well as wanting to create fresh and exciting content too. Pre-show, an intentional execution ensued which included a BTS shoot during the hair and makeup trial for TOMBOY Beauty as well as a long list of exclusive angles and imagery for the wide range of media in attendance.
There is also a lot of admin going on in the background—uploading guestlists to MBFWA’s exclusive system (not going to lie, I may have yelled at the screen many times during this part of the process), managing RSVPs, writing runsheets and managing pre-show, backstage and post-show interviews.
The day of the show calls for an early start. Hair, makeup and nails begins, bump in of the set, interviews, steaming of the clothes… and lots of coffee! Everyone has a place to be and a job to do so it’s all hands on deck.
As it nears showtime, I head out to the registration desk to make sure everyone who needs to be there has arrived, a couple of mix ups with RSVPs and we’re back on schedule. Backstage, the models are dressed and on stage and they’re waiting for my cue…. That being, that every key guest has walked through the doors and is waiting for the show to start, the objective is to make some noise about the brand and the show so it’s imperative the right people are there. The space starts to fill up. Guests start to get impatient. We close the doors and they stand still, in a quiet room, in complete darkness. The sound of a basketball being dribbled begins before a light and music presentation showcasing 22 models on black-mirrored plinths in varying height and levels brings urban sport to Fashion Week Australia.
Ten minutes later and the presentation is over but the show must go on. Post-show interviews, live TV feeds and radio interviews are completed while the production team bump out before the next designer bumps in. For me, it was home to my six month old whilst compiling imagery, writing a post-show press release and fulfilling both exclusive and mainstream press requirements before heading out for a celebratory team dinner for a job well done.
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