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Producing a Fashion Show - Lights, Action, Runway

Written by FS StaffJuly 11, 2011
Fashion Show

Producing a Fashion Show

Producing a fashion show is like directing a movie - coordinating all visual and technical aspects to create one final (but fabulous) production. Although fashion shows can be produced on any budget and for any type of audience, a game plan is necessary to execute perfection.

With over 20 fashion shows under my belt, I could probably write an entire book (and may still do). However, the following guidelines will certainly put you on the right track to illuminate your very own runway!

Did You Know.... Academy of Art University’s School of Fashion offers BFA's in Fashion, Fashion Merchandising, Textile Design, Fashion Marketing, Fashion Styling, Costume Design, and Fashion Product Development. Learn more.

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Every fashion show must have an overall concept. Is it a Back to School Fashion Show for a mall, a showcase for a local designer, or a charity fundraiser? The client possibilities are endless. Creativity is the key to dress up the show any way you see fit. I have produced many themed events for holidays, stylist collaborations, color/shoes/jewelry/lingerie inspired concepts, and designer or retail-driven shows. Once you have a theme for your runway, the details are much easier to solidify.


Agency models know how to strut the catwalk, but can be very expensive. If you don't have the budget to pay industry rates, base your model search on your client's needs. Are you promoting a children's line and need models under the age of 12? Is this a charity fundraiser with all ticket-holders over the age of 60? Hold a model call and place ads on free bulletins requesting potential models to show up in person to fill out fitting sheets and take Polaroids to remember their look. This is a great way to build your own model base for future shows.


As the producer, you may or may not have to select the clothes for the runway. Based on your show concept, the stylists, designers, or stores might choose the merchandise. In any case, make sure you are familiar with all the garments in the show. Each garment should be returned in the same condition it originated. Take photos at the model fitting and have a list of all items on each model. When they return their outfit to you after the show, check for all pieces. This way you know who is accountable for what.

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To get any show ready for the runway, you will need to solidify a venue to host the event, a runway or stage, lighting, music and of course, hair & makeup. Nightclubs, hotels, schools, and malls are popular fashion show venues. However creative spaces can be turned into runways. You may have a DJ to mix the music, a salon sponsoring the hair/makeup, and a multimedia screen on the runway with store logos. Whatever your technical details, make sure everything is tested and ready to go before the show.


Write out the entire show in a script format. Whether you have an emcee speaking commentary on each outfit or music timed out for each individual scene, the model and fashion order is extremely important to have written down. This will make it much easier to call your show and follow along with the program.


On occasion, you may work with sponsors paying for the event who want additional publicity onsite. Hang their banners, giveaway promotional gift bags, and/or host a VIP reception for the sponsor's guests. If the sponsor is a restaurant or alcohol/beverage company, feature their product exclusively.

With thorough planning and creativity, a fashion show can be a huge success. And so much better than a boring movie!