The Ins and Outs of Fashion Show Production

The Ins and Outs of Fashion Show Production - Style Nine to Five

One of the biggest events in fashion is a fashion show. Fashion industry insiders and fashion lovers wait each year for February and September to see the designs for the biggest names in fashion unveil their collections.

Those working behind the scenes at fashion shows have been working tirelessly all year in anticipation of the bi-annual fashion months. If you’ve attended a fashion show, you know how quickly they go by—blink and it’s over. For the uninitiated, the average fashion runway only lasts about 10 to 20 minutes.

Even though fashion shows are short events, there are a lot of moving parts that go into preparing and executing a runway show. If you are interested in what goes into a fashion show and where you could use your skill, read on—these are the main factors that are involved in fashion show production!

Model Casting

What would a runway be without models? Models are cast in shows either through open calls, through agencies, or by being asked by the designer. Castings often happen weeks in advance, but may even be days in advance. Models are selected based on their look, their walk ,and sometimes just their name if they’re famous in the industry.

Models will often be directed to walk a certain way for each designer, they may be given specific instructions for how to walk, perhaps with a smile, with high energy, or “like a cat.” For example, Maison Margiela and Vaquera are designers whose models often have a very unique and notable runway walk.


Thanks to artistic visionaries in fashion like Karl Lagerfeld, whose runway show sets for Chanel were just as thoughtful and extraordinary as his designs for the iconic brand, location has become an important aspect of the fashion show. The location can add to the overall experience of the show. A location can set the stage for a theme (you may recall Karl Lagerfeld had a beach, complete with a rolling tide installed in Paris’s Grand Palais for his Chanel S/S 2019 collection) that compliments the tone of the collection.

Ina addition to the location’s aesthetic, it is also important to be mindful of how easily accessible it is. Fashion month is a busy time—one of the busiest times for editors, buyers, and influencers. Their schedules are booked from sunrise to sunset with fittings, dinners, after parties, and attending a full calendar of shows.

Each of the four big fashion cities (New York, London, Milan, and Paris) get one week of shows, and during that time hundreds of designers are showing their upcoming collections. If you’re a major brand that can’t be missed (think Prada, Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton, or Dior), you have a bit more luxury of deciding on a location, whether it is convenient or not.

If you are a smaller brand who could really use the exposure of photographers, influencers, buyers, and editors, you want to make sure it’s easy to attend your show. With such a tight fashion month schedule, Anna Wintour isn’t going to be sitting in her town car for an extra two hours to see your up-and-coming label present a collection.

Lighting and Audio

Just like runway walk and location, each show will have its own specific look and sound, achieved thorough lighting and audio. These will be chosen by the fashion show producer or audio-visual professionals and will need to be meticulously timed. As noted above, a show is a quick event, so there no time to make mistakes—the lighting and soundtrack for the entire show is thought out and designed to the second.


Many shows will be through invitation only, reserved for the most important names in fashion, along with press (photographers and journalists). Fashion shows are often not large—they are an exclusive, even intimate affair. Designer Rick Owens hosted his Fall/Winter 2024 fashion show in his home, as an example of how intimate they can be.

Since the purpose is to take in the collection, the audience needs to be able to see the detail and construction of each garment. There’s often up to five rows of seats lining the runway, with the most important names in fashion in the front row.


The fashion show producer is like the final boss in how the show is executed, where all the ins and outs come together. The producer oversees everything above: models, lighting, audio, seating, photography and video, and more. They make sure that everything runs smoothly, down to the second. If you ever watched the reality show The Hills, you might remember Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port working for Kelly Cutrone’s People’s Revolution and assisting with fashion show production. It’s an exciting career path, but be prepared to work long hours and operate under intense pressure.

Sustainability and Technology

As the fashion industry evolves, so does the production of fashion shows. An increasing focus on sustainability is pushing designers and producers to consider eco-friendly practices, such as using sustainable materials for set designs or minimizing waste backstage, aligning the glamorous nature of fashion shows with the pressing need for environmental responsibility.

Technology has become a pivotal element in modernizing the fashion show experience. Innovations like augmented reality, virtual reality, and live streaming are transforming traditional runways, enabling designers to reach a global audience and offering viewers an immersive experience from anywhere in the world.

Post-Show Dynamics and the Significance of Teamwork

The post-show environment is ripe with opportunities for networking, crucial for forging lasting industry relationships, securing future collaborations, and celebrating the collective effort that made the show possible. Acknowledging the behind-the-scenes team—from makeup artists and hairstylists to wardrobe specialists—sheds light on the collective artistry that brings the fashion show to life.

Inclusivity, Preparedness, and the Heart of Fashion

Emphasizing cultural sensitivity and inclusivity ensures that fashion shows respect and celebrate diversity, contributing positively to the industry’s global image. Additionally, thorough preparation for unforeseen incidents underscores the industry’s adaptability, ensuring that the show can go on, irrespective of last-minute challenges.

Produce a Fashion Show a Budget

Executing a fashion show on a budget presents its own set of challenges, but it also sparks creativity and innovation. It’s about prioritizing elements that maximize impact without compromising the designer’s vision.

To maximize a fashion show budget, focus on key actionable points:

• Utilize digital invitations to eliminate printing costs.
• Employ social media for cost-effective marketing.
• Opt for reusable decor that adapts to various themes.
• Collaborate with emerging talent for cost savings and fresh perspectives.
• Implement sustainable, eco-friendly practices that can also reduce expenses.

The next time you’re scrolling through the runway shots on Vogue, enjoying a livestream during fashion month, or are lucky enough to attend, remember just how much time and effort and collaboration went into those utterly glamorous few minutes.

If you happen to be one of the people mentioned above who make these incredible events a reality, congratulations on all the hard work, there’s nothing quite like executing a fashion show to give you great job satisfaction.

So, How Do You Get Involved?

Getting involved in a fashion show can be an exciting opportunity, particularly for job seekers looking to enter or progress within the fashion industry. Here are some steps and tips on how job seekers can get involved in fashion shows:

1. Identify Your Interest Area: Determine what aspect of fashion show production interests you most. This could be design, styling, makeup, hairdressing, event management, marketing, public relations, or logistics.

2. Get the Necessary Training: Depending on your area of interest, you might need specific skills or training. For example, if you’re interested in fashion design, a degree or courses in fashion design are beneficial. For roles in event management or marketing, qualifications related to these fields can help.

3. Network Actively: Networking is crucial in the fashion industry. Attend fashion events, seminars, and workshops to meet people in the industry. Social media platforms, particularly LinkedIn and Instagram, are also great for connecting with fashion professionals. Engaging with and following the work of established professionals can lead to potential opportunities.

4. Start Small: Look for entry-level positions or internships with fashion show producers, fashion magazines, or fashion brands. Many fashion shows rely on interns and volunteers to manage various aspects of the event, providing a great entry point.

5. Develop a Portfolio: If your interest lies in a creative field like design, styling, or makeup, developing a strong portfolio showcasing your best work is essential. This can be shared with potential employers or collaborators.

6. Apply for Jobs: Keep an eye on job postings from fashion brands, event management companies, and other institutions that regularly organize fashion shows. Job boards, company websites, and industry publications can be good resources.

7. Volunteer: Offering to volunteer at fashion events can provide practical experience and help you make important industry connections. It also demonstrates your enthusiasm and work ethic to potential employers.

8. Freelance Projects: Consider taking on freelance projects related to fashion shows. This could involve anything from freelance graphic design for show materials to doing makeup or styling models.

Are you interested in a career in fashion and wondering what role is the best match for your skills? Book a Career Meeting with Style Nine to Five Founder, Christie Lohr. She will help you match your abilities and experience with an exciting career in fashion.

Sheila O’Neill is a creative, innovative and inspiring storyteller with a background in fashion.

Featured Image – Adobe Stock