From Concept To Catwalk, This Is How Our Favourite Fashion Shows Are Really Made

With fashion week nearly upon us, runway producer Alexandre de Betak exclusively shares his countdown to show time…

To the outside world, a 10-minute fashion show can look like the slickest, most glamorous event on the planet, where supermodels glide effortlessly through fantasy show sets and all of our favourite celebs just appear in magical formation on the frow.
  
Well natural it ain’t, as supreme show producer Alexandre de Betak (the man propping up everyone from Rodarte to Boss) can attest. It takes months of work to streamline those running orders, come up with cool venues, build creative set designs and generally whip everyone in sight into shape – hence the obligatory headset.

Marie Claire Runway chatted exclusively with the logistical genius working behind the seams at some of fashion month’s biggest events. Here’s Alexandre’s countdown to show time…

(Photo: Alexandre de Betak at The Row SS15 show)

6 Months To Go…Meet With The Designers
‘I meet the designers way before they start designing the collection, usually very soon after the previous season. They usually tell me and my team what inspires them, showing us their fabrics, mood boards and the direction the collection is taking. With a brand like Rodarte (we’ve worked with them for around 8 years now), the girls [designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy] have a different inspiration for each show, but we’ve used neon lights every season, just in a different way. For their SS15 show we created a kind of modern fairytale-undersea world, the season before that the designers were inspired by star wars and spaceship designs.’

(Photo: Rodarte show SS15)

6-3 Months To Go…Brainstorm With Designers And Present Set Concepts
‘We start proposing ideas based on the brief we receive from designers. For example the idea with The Row [Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s brand] is by choice a kind of ‘non-show’ in a way and they want it to look very unproduced. For SS15 we found an old loft in Soho, New York. There were pieces of wood already there, which we kept for the show. We wanted highlight the history and originality of the place.’

(Image: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen for The Row SS15 show)

1 Week To Go…Venues Finalised And Sets Are Built
‘For the Boss spring 2015 show we had to be very quick building the set because the venue was the new World Trade Centre. We had to use cranes for the Boss pillars, which took about 5 days to build. But some shows it can take anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks.’


(Photo: The Boss venue)

3 Hours To Go…Show Rehearsal
‘Right before the show starts I often remind the models very loudly on the microphone what the story and the type of walk is. We produce stage-direction boards, like the one at Michael Kors show (below) to remind them what the show is all about.’ 

10 Minutes To Go…Dress The Models
‘We’re usually done at this point, lining the models up and briefing them. It’s very well planned and organised. There is no room for error, a fashion show happens only once, it’s the only time a designer can show his or her collection, so if you fail a show, you’ve failed an entire communication of a brand for the season – which is impossible to imagine.’ 

And When Fashion Week Is Over…
‘It’s time to start thinking about the next collections!’ Duh!

You can read more exclusives (including chit-chats with Isabel Marant, Marchesa, Simone Rocha and more) in the new SS15 issue of Marie Claire Runway – on sale now.

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