Fast fashion

By Carly Radist

The music is blaring from the speakers, the lights are flashing down the runway. Models stream down the aisle, decked in clothes that look perfectly put together. These models are cohesively dressed, with the right accessories and shoes. As they turn that corner and disappear, only to reappear in a couple of minutes, a new outfit will emerge, looking as though they effortlessly threw it on. However, those crucial minutes, sometimes only 45 seconds, are filled with frantic people trying to dress the models in order to send them back on the runway.

Rebecca Weinstein ’09, a dresser at these runway shows, performs the “quick change” behind the scenes, a vital job for these fashion shows.

“Backstage is absolutely wild,” Weinstein said. “The second the techno music comes on, everyone offstage launches into work mode.”

Weinstein has been involved with fashion shows since last year’s Grammy Awards. Her first show was a Pre-Grammy Special Buyers show at Saks Fifth Avenue. This was a test run for Weinstein, set up by an event planner for fashion shows that got her involved with helping out backstage. She came into contact with this woman through a friend of a friend, landing the job after e-mailing her and expressing her love of fashion and a previous internship at a clothing manufacturer.

“I got involved because I really do love fashion and I would love to work in this type of industry some day,” she said. “I figured any experience is good experience and it has been an incredible journey so far.”

Weinstein’s job isn’t to simply dress her model for the night. It entails preparation and cleanup. She must steam the clothing when she arrives at the venue and after the show has begun, she must be prepared for her model to exit the runway to change her outfit. This quick change means that she has about 45 seconds to redress her model, which is not easy because the clothes are often more intricate than everyday wear. In addition, with a larger show, she usually will have more than one model to dress. She must make sure that everything is coordinated; double checking that the model has the right shoes and accessories on. Once the show is over, she has to pack up all of the clothes and accessories so that they can go back to the designer.

She has worked plenty of shows since her first, including a Teen Vogue Fashion Live show and her favorite, the Macy’s Passport show. She usually works on the weekends, realizing that the weekdays are too stressful with school work. In addition, Weinstein gets paid for each show that she works at. Usually shows don’t last for much longer than a weekend. However, she has participated in bigger shows that are multiple days in a row with hours from 6 to 11 p.m or 5 to 10 p.m.

Backstage during the fashion show, tensions run high as dressers and other various workers scramble to keep the show running. When a model walks off the runway, dressers start tearing their clothes off, Weinstein explains. Depending on the size of the show, there can be around 15 to 40 dressers.

“If you can’t move quickly, you can’t do the job,” she said. “It’s the best combination of stress and fun possible.”

Besides getting to participate in an industry which she is passionate about, Weinstein’s favorite part is meeting all the people she gets to work with. The dressers range from 22 to 40 years old, much older than Weinstein. Most of them have gone to fashion school and are people she would have never met if she hadn’t gotten involved.