Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Amateur's Guide to Planning a Fashion Show

Well, after a few weeks of uncertainty, I can finally now announce that I am the director of the fashion show for the Philadelphia Bike Exposition! I am beyond excited that I was given this chance to merge my two of my three greatest loves, fashion and cycling. (The third being my cats, of course.) The show will be held on Saturday, October 30 at 8:00pm and will showcase athletic apparel for everyone from the daily commuter to the experienced cat-one racer. We will be featuring all-local cyclists to model the apparel and are hoping to include clothing raffles to benefit the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. The event will be free to the public and I encourage anyone in the Philadelphia area to stop by!

Now, as excited as I am, I am also completely freaking out. I so readily accepted the job before realizing, hey Molly, you've never planned a fashion show before! The only experience you even have is doing makeup for an art school showcase! Oh yeah, I forgot about that whole part...Luckily, I've got the support of one enthusiastic boyfriend and a representative of the Bicycle Coalition who's got more industry contacts than I have friends in my phone book. Between the three of us, we divided and conquered until we were able to put together a rough outline of what it takes to host a successful fashion show:

  1. Secure a venue. [We are hosting the show at the same venue for the Bike Expo, the 23rd St. Armory]
  2. Determine the length of the show. [30-60 minutes]
  3. What is the theme? What looks will you showcase [We are deciding between categorizing by weather (windy, wet, warm, and cold) or type of rider (city, mountain bike, or road)]
  4. Secure both a DJ and emcee.
  5. Decide what sort of stage you need and measure your venue to ensure it can accommodate the stage.
  6. Scout for models. [In an effort to keep the show authentic, we are recruiting everyday racers from local cycling teams. We are emailing a call sheet to shops, colleges, and other cycling community contacts with basic information, contact numbers, and what we need interested models to provide.]
  7. Approach designers. [We are contacting apparel and accessory companies via email with information about the fashion show. Though we are only asking for sample items on loan, anything donated will be raffled off in an auction to benefit the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.]
  8. Recruit hair stylists and makeup artists. [I looked to a friend at the Paul Mitchell school, who said she can provide 3-4 stylists in exchange for school credit. Everyone wins and it doesn't cost us a dime!]
  9. Think sponsorship! [Urban Outfitters is based out of Philadelphia,so we plan to approach them for sponsorship money. In turn, all publicity would mention the "Philadelphia Bike Exposition Fashion Showcase, presented by Urban Outfitters"]
  10. Start planning as early as possible! Visit local fashion shows, especially college presentations, for ideas and inspiration. [The show isn't for 5 months, but there's no such thing as being too prepared!]
Easily, the two biggest challenges at this time are finding designers and models. I'm just beginning to circulate emails out, but we've got a couple designers already signed on, which is a huge encouragement. As a result, there's less time for dressing fancy and more time spent like this:

Do any readers have experience planning fashion shows? What am I missing, and what random advice do you have for an overwhelmed first-timer?


  1. I've done a few fashion shows. As director, you really have to remember to stay chill. AND ORGANIZED. These completely go hand in hand. Everyone will be looking to you to give them direction, so make sure you have all your info in one place and you don't freak out.

    A freaked out director freaks everyone out.

    Also, set building is super simple and can be super cheap. I designed of a cityscape a set made of wood and lights and it was less that 100 bucks.

    Also, I just moved from Philly back to Jersey, but I'd love to come check the show out.

    P.S. five months will fly. Doing it now is an awesome idea. :]

  2. This blog is so helpful since I am planning my first fashion show for one of my non profit organization client. I just have to work out logistics because everything else will not be a problem . Hope the show u did was a success.

  3. Hi girls,
    My name is Pepita and I have a bit of experience with fashion shows for our local charities. also I am a local designer and store owner. Everything above is perfect models are a tough one and I always use locals it makes the event real. Always be sure you have a dressing room close to the runway and a way for the models to get there unseen by the audience. don't bore them with a lot of talking let the clothes and fun models do the talking. Remember this is not a NYC runway have fun. My question is do You wow them at first or always at the end? I have tried both and still not sure what works...get their attention right in the beginning or at the end? What are your thoughts?