Behind the Door: A Day in the Life of a Fashion Week Volunteer
- BY: SARAH SWIFT
- Nov. 21, 2016
Behind the Door is a series that goes behind the scenes with Miro Door volunteers, exploring the many ways in which we help connect young people with opportunities within the fashion and creative industries. Today, we meet Monique - a volunteer that lets us peep the final page from her MBFWA diary.
When I applied for a volunteering position at Fashion Week, I had no idea what I was signing up for. I applied with Miro Door as a way to get some insight into the industry and some hands on experience. I got my application in on the final day, and thankfully Miro Door consider all applications up until the end of the deadline, because it didn’t take long to find out I’d got it! I opened the email on a train ride to work and I was so excited I couldn’t help but let out a little squeal. After all, it wasn’t that long ago I left my stable office job to chase a career in the fashion industry, and what better way to do that than with the craziness of Fashion Week?!
After working days one through to four, the final day still managed to be one of the most exciting and busiest days yet! Here’s how it all unfolded...
4:45am - the multiple alarms I set (in fear of sleeping through the early call time) start to go off. After the inevitable battle with the snooze button, I finally get myself out of bed to eat a biiiiiig breakfast for the day ahead... I’ve learnt by now that as a volunteer you never know for sure when you will get to eat your next proper meal.
7:15am - It’s time for a quick coffee while we figure out where we’re assigned... Nope scrap that, we’re off to The Runway to prep the room for the St George Next Gen show at 9am! After four days of practice, our gift bag prep is the most efficient run of people you have ever seen. Once everything is done, the volunteers take a little time to watch the dress rehearsals (ahmazing!) and friend each other on Instagram if we haven’t already. All the volunteers are really friendly so it’s fun to just hang out, meet new people and chat while we wait.
9am - It’s go time! For the Front of House workers that’s when the guests start to arrive. There’s a crazy energy in the air. All the major bloggers are here, I have the head David Jones buyer to my right, the Maybelline Ambassadors to my left and the editors from Vogue Australia and Harper’s Bazaar just further down the runway. All the key players in the industry are here and it’s definitely a bit of a ‘pinch me’ moment!
9:30am - The show finally begins! Even though I have already seen most of the looks during the dress rehearsals, I can’t help but get excited for that first look as the music starts to pump! Those first few seconds of a show are surreal... And every single time the runway lights go up, it reminds me how privileged I am to be here. We’re lucky enough to see the shows at the exact same time as the invited industry guests - that alone is worth all the hard work!
10am - Time to head back to the volunteer office and confirm the next show I’m working on... I tell Jenna (the volunteer manager) that a friend’s boyfriend is showing his new label Oxblood as part of The Innovators at The Runway, and that I’d love to be involved. She is super supportive of anything we want to do so she keeps me there for that show too. So it’s back to prepping gift bags and the getting the space ready again. I quickly see my friends and wish them the best of luck. Showing at fashion week... A major accomplishment for any designer!
12:30pm - The new group of guests are fully seated and this show can finally begin! All the volunteers get to watch from the back again. It’s a really nice moment seeing each of the young designers take their final bow.
1:45pm - After working front of house for two shows already today, Jenna lets me jump into a Back of House spot for the Raffles Show. I’m not as experienced in Back of House so I’m a little nervous but the other girls are super supportive and promise to help where needed.
2pm - We arrive backstage to find there is already a sense of urgency, with the Backstage Manager moving along the last of the team still tidying from the previous show. She completely takes charge of the space and it's actually really inspiring to watch - she’s a total #Girlboss!
With just one hour until the show is due to start we’re really pushing it for time... We’re each assigned to a model, and there’s no time to mess around. I quickly get my model’s outfits steamed and sort her items on the rack. I’m relieved to see that my model has just one outfit change. Some of the other models have up to four, or maybe even more!
2:30pm - The models begin getting into their first looks and doing some practice walks. Backstage, there are people everywhere: photographers, hair and make-up artists, the designers (who are all ridiculously sweet!)... The energy is absolutely electric!
2:35pm - I finish dressing my model and send her off to join the queue for the practice walk. I turn around to tidy my area and I hear a big gasp behind me... There’s a model down! I panic, freaking out that it’s my model and that I’ve stuffed something up with her shoes, but it’s not. Phew!!
2:45pm – Wait! There’s a second model down! I repeat - a second model down! It turns out that one of the designers’ last minute addition of ribbons on the shoes isn’t exactly safe so #girlboss has to intervene. The ribbons have to go, but the designer is totally understanding, already beginning to take the ribbons off the models’ shoes himself.
3pm - The show is due to start and there are photographers everywhere still trying to get their backstage shots, hair and makeup artists still checking every model to ensure their whimsical look for the show is perfect and of course there’s designers, checking over every element of their outfits and making any last minute changes.
3:05pm - We’re off! The first model is out. The buzzing energy backstage somehow manages to escalate even more. The volunteers are all eagerly awaiting the return of their model so that we can get them into their next outfit. My own model’s second look is the closing look of the last designer showing, so my backstage jitters continue right up until the very end of the show!
3:35pm - We’re done! We help the models undress and get everything back to each designer in perfect condition. The show must have been good as some buyers have already made their way backstage to chase up some designers. I’m so happy for them! In that short space of time you are so invested in their work that you can’t help but absorb some of the emotion in the room.
4pm - I’m done! After that last Back of House session I am absolutely wrecked. With a completely full fashion week experience doing something different every single day, I head straight home for a long bath and a well-deserved sleep... After a little detour for celebratory drinks first, of course!
Words by Monique Aniela Grigg.
You can keep up to date with Monique’s journey on Instagram @moniqueaniela
For all the latest fashion events and volunteer opportunities, check out the Miro Door jobs page.