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Meet The Backstage Insiders Who Make Fashion Shows Reality

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Fashion weeks are unarguably the most buzzy time in the industry; jumping from city to city, show after show can seem rather taxing, and frankly, even a little exhausting. But how does my hectic schedule as a writer compare to the fashion folks producing all these fantastical presentations? There is so much more to a show than what the immediate eye can see; the runway, the collection, the front row fixtures... what about the invisible teams that make it all come together? From London Fashion Week, to Men's Fashion Week in Milan, to Miami's sizzling Swim Week, I examine the symbiotic relationship between the front and back, and everything in between.

The Designers Say...

"I'm self-trained. My mother's a designer, my sister's a designer, I grew up with a sewing room with Singer sewing machines, but it's not an easy trade because it's a business; there's a lot of logistics, and things can go wrong. I've got 12 years under my belt now with my business, and I've learned and its now more successful than ever.

I'm really engaged -- this is [presenting the collection as an instillation] quite unique for me, because it's more design/ show/ campaign in one; it's been really mad, presenting and entertaining people with doing a dinner! I am a perfectionist and I am a visionary; I think it's about all of those things coming together in one night. I'm also mindful of the importance of the power of social media as a platform and I think that's wonderful."

"With that in mind, I really wanted to create amazing imagery and a world that wasn't just about the clothes, but it was about creating the Alice world and editorial-type feeling, and that's what we're doing tonight. I just want you to enjoy, drink, be merry, take photos; it's all about the experience. It's really about gratitude for me as well, saying thank you to our customers for the support and brand."

-- Alice McCall, London Stylist turned top Australian designer of alice McCALL at the dinner for her Resort 16/17 collection dinner held at Porteno's

A sweet, fun look from the macgraw collection.

"[This season] we created a really girly, cute, but still cool collection because we've put it with a boot that we've created; there's still a toughness. We've actually collaborated with a jewelry designer called Venice, she's actually made little botanical shoe jewels that are going on all the boots to enhance the collection. It's more of a runway thing, but people will buy these. We started off just doing show shoes, but then everyone wanted the shoes so we were like, alright, and we love making shoes now. This year, we've been inspired by French royalty. We're definitely taking it to a more opulent place, but it's still the effortless, playful, cool millennial macgraw girl we hope everyone's come to expect.

[On this year MBFWA presenting resort collections] This year, I guess probably more locally for us, it's shifted around some of the drop dates. Internationally though, we actually sold our S/S collection as a resort collection last year from our runway show, so there's not a huge difference there, it's more of a continuation for us.

For the local market -- I think it being on the international schedule is really exciting, it's less about what we're producing in a collection and it's more about the attention it's getting and the buyers that are coming out. There's pretty amazing buyers coming out this year on an international level; it seems the resort presentation has garnered more interest.

We're just really excited to show you guys, we're really ready -- this is both of our favorite collection, we've tried our hardest. People are kind of watching us, we've won a few awards, and we're just got everyone's attention and we want to put on a show! We're enjoying this. These are the special days, these are the moments we should be most present in. it feels like a wedding sometimes, honestly!

-- Beth and Tessa MacGraw of Aussie mega label macgraw backstage before their Resort 16/17 show

Front row favourites

The PR Maven Says...

"When it comes to campaign shoots, we're really the jack of all trades and work with multiple team members to pull it all together. With alice McCALL for example, it always involves working hand in hand with Alice herself as it is very important that the campaign has her DNA in it. We are always very respectful of ensuring it's her vision. From organizing the creative teams, working with the modeling agency, sourcing the photographer, scouting the location... and the list goes on! As for a large-scale fashion event (like Australian Fashion Week or shooting in a different country / foreign location), the designer must hire a producer, as we have so many other duties to fulfill.

That being said, we work hand-in-hand with the producer and designer to ensure the best event outcome possible. A few months before the show, I strategically put together a publicity plan. That includes what details I share with which media outlet leading up to the show, pitching collaborative ideas to other media, and sharing a few sneak peaks to create excitement.

Another really full-on aspect of what goes on behind the scenes at a fashion show is the seating plan. It takes hours, days and weeks to strategically place who sits where -- it's a delicate thing involving lots of politics and I'm required to know everything that's going; you want to ensure you haven't sat someone next to their former employer that they left from mere days before, or competitive brands for example.

There can sometimes be demands from people who insist on sitting front row, and it can be really difficult to not insult anyone. But if there's one thing I know, it's that you can't please everyone! We also work with celebrities and influencers to dress them in the product so when you look at your star studded front row, you would ideally like to see those stars wearing your designer's pieces. These make for great online content. There's a lot of quiet work that happens behind the scenes on my end to make it all come together and look completely seamless.

-- Ali Smyth, Director / Owner Electric Collective @electriccollectivepr /

Pulitano and team hard at work backstage

The Hair Team Says...

"Doing a show that presents as an instillation as opposed to a traditional catwalk is amazing because we get to create little scenarios for each girl. Tonight [at the Alice McCALL presentation] there are only 10 models, so you can put so much more work into every girl, make every girl perfect. It comes to life with backdrops, and there are just so many beautiful props. The experience was also all about being able to photograph this, and show fashion at the same time.

I do a lot of shows internationally. For example, I worked on Gucci, and there was a lot of retro vibes going on, like we also created here tonight. If you're not too big, and you can do it like this, great. But if you're really big and you've got 80 looks to show, it's impossible. For Alice, she's huge here and this is great -- with 10 girls, she can just swap the looks a few times, and instillations and looks happen on and off. Backstage during fashion week is always really chaotic, and a presentation like this gives us more time to customize the looks and have some fun with the girls."

-- Jon Pulitano, Redken Hair Director and Artistic Director at Headcase Hair Salon in Paddington

The Makeup Team Says...

Creating looks backstage at a fashion show and doing presentations are extremely different! When it's a smaller installation, it's so much more fun; it's a lot more personal than any other backstage shows, and you'll notice every look is completely different. Yes, there'll be an underlining theme, but it's all very different and suited to the model as well and the outfit, so that made it a very fun aspect. Some designers have such great input of everything too, and they're there with us every step to tell us what they was love and its great energy to work off. Plus, it's so cool to come and do shows at different locations!

I think makeup is such a cool thing at the moment; you can play with it in so many ways. I think this show [the Alice McCALL presentation] really shows that -- you can look at other shows that are quite natural, whereas this one is so punchy and modern and eye catching. You'll notice there's a huge focus on the eye, we've gone for a really '70s, Studio 54 vibrant colour, but also very elaborate in the sense as well, and still very classical and chic.

@alicemccallptyltd @lancomeofficial @fashion_week @fashionweekaus @redkenaustralia @yayadeng_ @nuclearpistachio 💯

A photo posted by Annabelle Hogg (@annabelleh_mua) on

Looks created by Hogg

For the eye, everyone has a customized look, but they all have bold colours coming through with the creased liner -- all of them have very punchy and bold colours. For the lips, we used the new juicy shaker. All of them have that juicy, plump lip, but in colours to best suit each model. It's like the new juicy tubes -- they're oil in a pigment, you shake them together to mix them, and then just pop them on the lip. It's great while they're [the models] are at fashion week and all have dry lips, the juicy shakers have five different oils in them, so its sort of two birds, one stone with colour and moisture.

Look around; the models are dancing! They're having a great time, and that's really important. If you make them comfortable in their skin but also getting really creative with that, that shows in the models as well."

-- Annabelle Hogg, Queensland State Make Up Artist at Lancôme

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Toronto Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016
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