What I learned from working at Charleston Fashion Week

Every year I’m always excited about what Charleston Fashion Week (CFW) has to offer.  The event organizers promise that CFW is a must for any fashionista.  Some regard it as the next best thing to going to NY Fashion Week.  There are over 20 runway shows that feature emerging designers, Charleston boutiques, and established designers.  I’ve attended CFW for three of the five years it has been held.  Every year the show delivers on its promise and gets better.  The organizers have truly set the standard for any fashion event in South Carolina.  So it’s no surprise that people want to be a part of it.  Many sign up to volunteer to work on any aspect of the production just to gain experience in working with a major fashion production.

I am no different. I jumped at the chance to audition to work on the CFW hair and makeup team.  I was thrilled to be accepted as an assistant on the team for the spring bridal show.  It was exciting (and tiring) to work behind the scenes with such talented people.  (Can you believe call time was 5am?!)  I also worked as a volunteer with the show “ushers” two other days as well.  The show “ushers” are the people in black who usher people to their seats.  They usher you along to get your tickets.  They, you know, usher people.

Anyway, I expected there to be major drama to go down while working the show, and there would be some “Ugly Betty” moments, but dang, I can’t think of many worth relating.  However, there was one incident where a fashionista vomited in my section in the the fourth row.  That was interesting because homegirl just sat there and was pretty much a vomit faucet.  The police had to escort her out.  But it was all good.  The janitor cleaned up the section, and the show went on.  You know compared to my “day job” as a web developer and marketing consultant, I found working at the CFW a nice diversion from the norm.  I came away with a few lessons.

Work with the right people to bring your vision to fruition. Ayoka Lucas, is the Creative Director of the event, but she always attests to the fact that it’s the CFW team that brings the show together.

It doesn’t hurt to audition. I may not be the best makeup artist in SC, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try out to work on the hair and makeup team of a major fashion show.  I got in, and was there.  Being accepted as an assistant was good enough (for the moment).

Working with the crew of a fashion show takes the glamour out of it. Before you say you have a passion for fashion, you should get your hands “dirty”, and work in a fashion show.  My experience with helping with vomit aisle cleanup, being in the makeup tents at 5 am, and seeing a designer want to use a bandage to cover a model’s tattoo was an eye opener.  Not everything in the fashion industry is glamour.  There is a thing called work.  Can you handle some of the work?

Wear comfy shoes if you don’t plan on sitting a lot. I’m on my feet too long to be rendered cute after 2 hrs of standing from taking photos and interviewing folk at the event.

Check out behind-the-scenes photos on the CFW website.