Who says you can’t go home again…….I’m back…..yes, you heard correctly, I have been asked to work on fashion shows for Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago and I am thrilled to do so. My first return show was for a private client at a luncheon at the newely redone Ritz Carlton Chicago (I’ll post about the hotel another time!) I thought it might be amusing to walk you through the steps in fashion show prep or Fashion Show 101, the way I do it!
First of all this was a pull from stock not an all one designer show so I could have a bit of fun with it. The first thing you must think about is who you are showing to, fashion shows, after all, are presented to sell. That might not be an immediate reaction of the audience but you want to intice your guests into the store to see what else is on offer.
I really can’t give you my thoughts on exactly what I pull or my thoughts behind why I select one look over another I guess it is gut reaction. I most often go with a color theme and, of course, feature the trends of the season we are in, not an easy thing this time of the year since so much is on sale (lucky consumers….you get major deals!) but I found wonderful late fall and cruise looks.
My first step was working with Bridget Halanski, Director of Runway at FactorChosen, Chicago to select the ten models and make arrangemenets for the 5 dressers. Having done that and gotten their comps I was off and running. I met with catering at the hotel to see where we would be dressing and the room where the show would be held.
Next step was to pull the show, I made arrangements with my assistant for the week, the delightful Executive Office Manager, Bryant Woodson, Jr., who served as my right hand for prep and the show and who, by the way, had been one of my students at Columbia College Chicago in my Fashion Show Production class….a very small world! We met at 8:00 the Monday before the show…I got to the staff entrance and stood at the door in disbelief….there is a security keypad and guess what I didn’t have the code! I also didn’t have the phone number for the AP office so I stood there for a couple of minutes and finally got to my senses and knocked and called out “Hello”….I was, obviously, let in by TaJ’ae Robinson and proceeded to the Designer Collections on the Second Floor to begin the fun part…The Pull!!!! I do pull quickly and did so this time as well. The garments were placed on rolling racks and taken to my office (don’t you love it I have an office!!!!) I decided on four exits (don’t ask me why they are called exits but that is “fashionese”) forty outfits in all.
Here is some of the pull. I wanted to do day into evening in color groupings and start and end with black, white and red. Several trends I included were trench coats, moto jacket, shearing, some pink (see above), blue, glitz, etc. All themes we saw in the extensive posts I did on the four major fashion markets a few weeks ago. At the moment clothes are easy to understand not too much gimmick but very wearable, elegant looks. After the pull I met with the Beauty Collections Manager, Kristina Gutierrez to discuss the look I wanted for the models….bold red lip and smoky eye. She arranged for several artists to do the models at the Store (they did their own low bun) and I must say they did a perfect job, exactly as I had envisioned!
I do the run of show (which is tranlated into a list for the attendees of the show and was printed in house) and then break it down by model to make it easy when the clothes are bagged and taken to the site. I then went to 10022 Shoes to choose from the unbelievable selection, my oh my oh my, what a collection of shoes at SFA Chicago! My new thing (and by the way I have been doing shows since I “retired” 8 years ago) is having the models carry one shoe that I have selected for that particular outfit. It is much easier for the audience to see the shoe and easy to do, works well, in my opinion. The models wear their own shoes.
I was done…I left the next morning for my Thanksgiving feast marathon and returned the night before the show….loved that I didn’t have to scan (list the merchandise) change the hangers, remove the sensors, put everything in garment bags nor accompany the truck to the Ritz…I felt like a princess…..The truck came on time to the hotel and the garments were brought to the dressing room area where I had prepped the racks. All that was left to do was unpack and place the exits on each models rack (two to a rack), easy. My long time assistant, Alberta Dean, arrived and started steaming the garments…I really can’t do a show without her she has been with me for a zillion years (35!) and I don’t have to tell her what to do she just does it! Yay, Alberta!
The show was flat on the floor with a white runner and I had at least 2 models out at a time worked well. The music had already been selected.
I place the comps at the top of the racks so the models can easily find their spaces. I line up left to right and let the dresses undo the clothes so they are familiar with them. shoes go underneath the garments and handbags were placed on the hangersThe item you see on the top right of the rack is a model hood, which I always have in my bag of tricks, it is a huge necessity when pulling clothes over your head (get one for yourself at Sally’s or on line!) I put the moto jacket over the gold sequin dress, funky fun!
The models arrived show ready and early, I reviewed the garments with each model and we decided on shoes from their model bags. They had plenty of time to relax, text, chat, whatever, before showtime. Of course, all goes in reverse after the show…clothes are zipped, buttoned, rebagged, picked up, and returned to the store.
The Crew….Nena, Alberta, Katie Stickles, Stylist Manager, Megan Henry, Assistant Stylist Manager, Bryant and TaJ’ae they were all amazing, I don’t know when I have had so much support doing a show…kudos to all!
First exits in show order I have already posted this on Instagram and Facebook and the finale photo as well, but didn’t take any more shots of the show, difficult with you are in the middle of senidng models. Bryant sent them to me, he has the run of show in his hand in the photo.
I thought it would be amusing to show you a photo from a show’s finale, probably early 1960’s, at the Hilton (I have done more shows at the Hilton than any other venue, I also did the first show at the Ritz Carlton when it first opened!) You will notice the politically incorrect item the models are holding in their hands….packages of cigarettes! The show was for a tobacco convention! Wow have times changed but we still want to see wonderful clothes on lovely models and Saks Fifth Avenue continues to be on the cutting edge of style….fun to be back doing what I love to do! Stay tuned……..there maybe more…….
Oh Nina congratulations on being back at Saks. I just loved your commentary on putting a show together, such a pro . By the way, I thought to myself after reading your recent blog that I just loved everyone of the pieces you had chosen. When I am better I will have to get into Saks. Bravo!
A million thanks Marcia. Let me know when you want to go and I’ll treat you to lunch at Sophie’s. I hope you are gaining strength each day.
Oh my goodness! What fun, and a treasure of fond memories. Blessings to you, Nena and Alberta. I miss you both dearly. Let the glamour continue…….
Thanks so much Lesley….you were THE best. I so appreciate your comments and that you follow nenasnotes.
Fantastic blog post, just loved the behind scenes info, here’s to many more fashion shows!!
Thank so much Jane. It was a fun show to do….
Great blog. Love the play by play.
Thanks Tommy…next time you are with me!!!!
Wow, you are the energizer bunny!! Do what you love and enjoy good friend! Dianne
Thanks Roomie…it was a fun day for sure.
Awesome!!! So excited for you, they’re getting the best.
Thanks. Can’t do it without you!!
Congratulations! Great post!
Thanks Karen a fun one to write.
Love reading Nenasnotes!
A million thanks Dori.