Producing a fashion show is no small feat, let alone producing the same show twice 2.5 hours apart, with fine-tuning session squeezed in between. That’s exactly what AiCA-SF students did for StyleNOW 2014, the school’s latest annual student fashion show. Under the direction of Michael Rosen, the fashion production and marketing students brought forth their A-game in delivering a solid day of production.

You have seen the student designers’ talents on StyleNOW 2014 review, however sometimes we forget about a million other things that happened behind the scenes so that we, the audience and photographers can enjoy the myriad of models wearing garments on which the students poured their heart, soul, and countless hours into. But that’s not counting the time spent in preparation of the fashion show itself! Even excluding the back-to-back dress rehearsals two days before the Saturday show, they had to be at SOMArts at 8am that Saturday morning (after finished with Friday dress rehearsal at around midnight) and likely did not return home until late that night either (after StyleNOW was finished, there was an after-party at Novela – 662 Mission St. – which we did not attend). Truly, it’s very brave for these students to choose crafting their path in fashion industry. The kind of dedication, commitment, perseverance, stamina, not to mention talent…were unbelievable. Kudos to them!

After attending several fashion shows and local SF Bay Area fashion events for the last 4 years, “production value” for a fashion show is always a hot topic for media folks and photographers, long after said fashion shows are done. It is common that we recommend (or not recommend) each other to go to fashion shows based on the production value. Questions like “Who’s the organizer / producer?” and “Where’s the venue?” are regularly asked. Therefore it’s a great asset if you are known to be good a fashion show producer; we would want to see events you produced! This is why I believe fashion production and marketing experience that AiCA-SF students gained (under the direction of such caliber as Michael Rosen, no less!) are wonderful. They worked hard and did a great job. Hopefully, these students will be able to produce stunning fashion shows with high production value themselves very soon.

StyleNOW 2014 was the first event for Chris and I, in which we came to the same fashion show twice. We arrived less than 1 hour before the 5pm Preview show, and stayed until after the 8pm VIP show. Both of us saw so many actions that enhanced the production value of StyleNOW 2014, and while the shows were not perfect, the initial threshold and progression from one show to the next was really commendable. We took so many pictures that day, that’s why I created this blog post filled with documentary photos dedicated to actions behind and around the runway, including backstage during the 5pm show and my shots from my seat during the 8pm shows*.

The 5pm Preview Show

Less than 45 minutes leading to the 5pm preview show, we saw Victor Cembellin and his M.A.C. make-up crew working their magic with the last wave of models inside the hair and makeup room.
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The following pictures were taken minutes before the runway about to start. Excitement, nervousness, hectic anticipation and hopeful expectations all rolled together in this room behind the runway.
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Suddenly, the 5pm preview show began. On the runway, the models confidently delivered much-practiced runway walking sequences. Behind the runway, the flurry of makeup finishing touches, model line-ups, and quickly getting in-and-out of outfits never stopped. I also quickly found out that the wing I stationed myself at was apparently another backstage area in which models were coming out from! For this production, there were three backstage areas (back, left side, and right side). There were intricately choreographed walking paths for the models, who stopped and went their way in various sections of the runway. The intimate runway setting really made it easy for the audience to engage (and take pictures) of the garments. The models walked rather fast in time with the thumping music, however their pace was almost lazy compared to all the craziness happening on all three backstage locations.

There were several mishaps during the 5pm preview show that I noticed: Mark Figueroa’s name failed to be shown on the big screens during his collection feature, a child was *very* reluctant when walking down the runway for Makayla Scott’s collection feature, MADlines’ mic was not on during Tyler Melhart’s collection feature, as well as some models’ timing issues when walking/posing at the end of the runway. Plus, the runway was pretty dark. Perhaps that’s the biggest hurdle I experienced for StyleNOW photos’ post-production. Nevertheless, I think the moments we took during the 5pm show were quite lovely.
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I was surprised when the security guard that was standing beside me suddenly moved forward towards the runway. Internally I was shouting, “What are you thinking!!” but then I relaxed when the other security guard from the opposite wing did the same. And oh, hey, they walked up and down the runway, eliciting the audience’s wild applause. Their walk was apparently the prologue for the finale, in which the student designers all came out with their models and (attempted to) pose for the photographers at the end of the runway. Unfortunately for designers who were showing their collection on the 2nd half of the show, the runway traffic got so congested that they just had to be content with walking to the middle of the runway and then went back to the main backstage area (the back of the runway).
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There was a sense of temporary relief and pause on the models’ and fashion students’ faces after the show. But the day was still far from over…

Fine-tuning in less than 2 hours

Michael urgently (and politely) requested the 5pm show’s audience to continue their socialization outside, since the room had to be cleared for the preparation of the 8pm VIP show. It was about 5:40pm when the preview show ended, and the door opened for the VIP show at 7pm. Not much time, so many things to fine tune! All of the models were called to the runway to practice some sections of their walk. The VIP bags were placed on the now-empty seats (and apparently my 8pm VIP show seat was less than 5 feet away from where I stationed myself earlier!), Michael and Geetika discussed some more production issues and logistics with the production staff.

The models got their make-up and hair touch-ups again from Victor’s team and Alex Chases, respectively. Michael changed his outfit and called 4 minutes countdown for the models to go backstage. He also did a final check of the runway. The VIP guests started to arrive, entertained by music performances by the students while walking on the red carpet outside (when did it get there?). The VIP guests enjoyed wine and hors d’oeuvres before asked to take their seats 15 minutes before the show.
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The 8pm VIP Show

And…the 8pm show of StyleNOW 2014 began! This time, Chris was at the end of the runway along with many more photographers, whereas I took pictures from my seat.
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I could see a great deal of the kinks were smoothed out this time around. The only big challenge was still the lighting. The now-present spotlight helped brighten up the runway, however it’s still hard to illuminate the runway fully if there were 2 or more models walking together. In addition, there was one instance where one model spent too much time posing at the end of the runway that the model following her only had time to reached her mark and immediately turned around in order to reach her next designated spot on-time. Oh, and the congested runway during the finale still happened :) Other than that, the production was deservedly a great source of price for the AiCA-SF Fashion School. The student designs were front and center, the designers AND models persevered through the long day, the fashion production and marketing students were on the top of their game. It’s a great showcase of talents!
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So congratulations to all the AiCA-SF fashion student production staff, both front and back of house. You guys were awesome, no wonder Geetika and Michael were so proud of you all. I believe StyleNOW 2014 fashion show production set an unprecedented standard for AiCA-SF annual student fashion shows to come, and I can hardly wait to see how next year’s production is going to shape up! By the way, nice media kit. Thanks for the notebook and pen, I truly love them.

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*SPECIAL NOTE: Sharing all of the pictures from the “Behind and Around the Runway of AiCA-SF StyleNOW 2014” album is not practical for this blog post. Therefore, please feel free to browse all 172 photos in my Google+ album if you’d like to see more photos.

Until next time,

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