When you’re planning your first fashion show, everything can seem a little overwhelming. Approach it logically and methodically and all will go well. Here are three main considerations:
Single or Multiple Designers?
If you’re working with a single designer, take into account their unique vision for what their collection represents and who their main audience is. This will help in choosing a venue that has the right vibe, providing a complementing backdrop that helps set the tone of the show.
To take a couple of extreme examples, a romantic country house may be the perfect setting for a bridal gown designer, while an urban, modern setting would be more suitable to show off a collection aimed at an edgy city audience.
Working with more than one designer in the same show needs a more compromising approach. Is there a unifying theme that runs through the collections or something that represents the designers as a group?
Part of your early planning should be to hold meetings with everyone involved and get an idea of what each designer wants from the show.
Choosing a Venue
Fashion shows are unique, fast-paced productions, and call for some special features from the venues they’re held in. You’ll need:
- A space large enough to organise bespoke seating either side of the catwalk.
- The catwalk itself, which you may need to hire and have professionally erected. There are many different designs and layouts, often having a modular structure to accommodate different needs.
- PA for announcements or commentary, and a music system.
- Expert lighting can really enhance the mood and energy in a fashion show, creating drama, romance or other special effects to show off the outfits. Remember that lighting must always be bright enough to provide a good view of the clothes.
- Somewhere backstage for models to change quickly, along with space for makeup and hair, and room to hang outfits.
Because of the specialised nature of the event, if you have no experience putting together a fashion show it can be helpful if your venue has hosted this type of production before. Take professional advice regarding the staging and catwalk, and find out about insurances and health and safety regulations.
Figure out your budget for venue hire early on, and leave plenty of time to view and assess. Bear in mind that popular venues get booked up early, so factor in at least a six-month lead time if you can. How much lead time you need depends on personal circumstance and how high profile the event is.
Raising Finance and Advertising
This is always a tricky part of organising any large event. If you’re hoping to sell tickets, one idea to gauge potential interest is to start a crowdfunding campaign online. If you get plenty of response, you know your event will be popular, and if all you hear are the crickets, you’ll know you need to change something.
Maybe your timing is off and you can change the date (try to avoid dates when other major local or national events are taking place), or perhaps your pricing is out. This kind of exercise during the early planning phases can help you make informed decisions and avoid costly mistakes.
Another way of getting the word out is by asking VIP guests, the designers, models, speakers or other entertainers to promote the event to their circles. Make it easy for them by crafting some promotional text such as email signatures, tweets, photos or digital posters.
When sending out invitations, always ask for an RSVP. You need to know how many seats you need and the numbers you’re catering for if providing refreshment. Knowing the size of your guest list can also help with venue choice.
Because there’s so much to consider is another reason why you need to start months in advance. Gather as many helpers as possible, and have regular progress meetings to keep everyone informed and on track. And finally, enjoy the process. Planning a fashion show is exciting and creative, and extremely satisfying when it all comes together.