Behind the Scenes at Durham Fashion Week

9 July 2014

Have you ever wondered what its like to work backstage at a fashion week? Well keep reading!
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to work backstage at FashionInDurham, a four day long fashion event, filled with fashion shows, late night shopping, showcases and thrift fairs. The events were open publically from the 26th June to the 29th and were spread all across the city centre.

Job Roles : runner
Working Times : 9:30am – 4:30pm

Tuesday started off pretty early. No event was happening this day, but a lot of setting up needed doing. My first job role was visiting all participating shops around the city to pick up any freebies or vouchers that they wanted to be given away in the goodie bags. At the same time, I also had the slightly boring job of handing out leaflets. After lunch, we had to go to all of the participating high street stores to pick up the outfits for the catwalks that were being held on the Saturday and Sunday. Stores included Topshop, New Look, Monsoon, Accessorize, Sorella and many others. We picked up 6 outfits from all 24 high street stores and each outfit then had to be checked to make sure everything was looking good and would fit the models.

My Uniform for the Week

Job Roles : model finder/fitter and quick changes backstage
Working Times : 12:30pm – 10:30pm (then an after party until 2am J)

Wednesday was the night of the Designer Catwalk and Launch Party, and my favourite night of the week. Both established and emerging designers from the North East showcased from 2-6 pieces from their latest collection on the catwalk, located in the Slug andLettuce, a gastro-bar. The day was packed with model fittings for each designer, sorting out the running order, hair and makeup and catwalk run-throughs. At 7pm, the catwalk began. Backstage was manic, but amazing! I was in the team of three quick changers. We were responsible for making sure all models had the correct outfit on at the right time. Models had to change outfits in about 1 minute so lots of clothes were being flung about but thankfully, no outfits or anything were out at the wrong time and everything ran very smoothly! The night was compered by former big brother winner, Anthony Hutton.
After the catwalk there was a launch party! I sneaked my lovely friend Rachael in and we had a great night. Thanks to the guest DJ, Kenny Dick.

Makeup Station
Face Charts for the Night

Makeup by PHAB and Boots

Final touches to the models' hair

Dress by Rhada

Image  by Durham City Studios

Job Roles : quick changes backstage
Working Times : 3pm – 10pm

The Summer Soirée held by Woven was a gents night held in the Gates Shopping Centre. The night had a variety of entertainment, a drinks reception hosted by the new bar in Durham, Wiff Waff, who also provided food and ping pong throughout the evening. Music was by DJ Pete Wharrier and a local acoustic singer and winner of Consett’s The Busker Factor, Zoe Bowman. There was also shoe shining, men on penny farthings and freshly baked cakes and canapés and home made pins on sale, from local business, Flat White. To finish the night here, there was a catwalk showcasing Woven’s summer trends and staple garments. Again, I was on a team of three, helping with quick changes backstage.

Also happening around town was Durham’s Style Night and a few fringe events. A late night shopping event throughout the high street stores with live mannequins modelling outfits in the shop windows. A live caberet and drinks reception at Sorella. Topshop hosted a drink, food and music night at the Slug and Lettuce and there was an opportunity to meet the designer of Rohan, Chris Vandrill.

Image by Durham City Studios

Image by Durham City Studios

Image by Durham City Studios

Cheesy grins from me and Glenn backstage!

Job Roles : outfit sorting and setting up
Working Times : 2pm – 10pm

On Friday, the event which took place was the Glitter Ball. A canapé and drinks reception, catered by Cheese and Pickle, with live mannequins modelling jewellery by Pears Boutique, The Mugwump, Cuba Lily and Marla Jones. It was also the launch of Moon Jewellery. Music was provided by Zoe Bowman and fashion illustrations on the night were done by the amazing, Melissa Bailey. Exclusive goody bags and discounts were given away on the night. This event was relatively straight foreward and therefore didn’t need much help from me. During this event, a few workers and I, helped out with the setting up, sorting out and fittings for Saturday and Sunday’s catwalk shows. Throughout the day, all models had to come in and have their fittings. Outfits were then sorted through and set out in order, on rails so that the models would each have a rail for the next day. Helping set up the outfits was very exciting for me, as we got to see un-released clothing from high street stores, and how they could be styled. A quick heads up – New Look have some AMAZING heels and ankle boots coming for the late summer / autumn! Outfits were also provided by Oxfam Boutique, a designer charity shop. These outfits were put together in a really creative way! I especially loved the vintage shirt worn under a vintage Ted Baker dress with a very old pony-skin top hat. It looked amazing!

Jessica modelling at the Glitter Ball - Image by Durham City Studios

Image by Durham City Studios

Saturday & Sunday
Job Role : quick changes backstage
Working Times : 8am – 4pm

I was away in Manchester on Saturday 28th, so unfortunately I couldn’t be there, however the catwalks were the same on thew Sunday and I was back for then. Three high street catwalks were held throughout the day, showcasing all the outfits we had sorted on the Friday. Outfits ranged from casual to formal, sporty to beachwear and some very quirky outfits from Oxfam. I was responsible for quick changes backstage and also any sorting of outfits. Anthony Hutton again compared the show. On Sunday, a thrift fare also took place. This event featured vintage and second hand fashion as well as workshops on how to upcycle your clothing and professional stylists were there to show you how to make the most of charity shop chic. There was also a beauty bar, where you could get a professional makeover, and a helter-skelter for the kids! Unfortunately, as I was working backstage at the catwalks, I couldn’t go, but I have heard that it was a great success! After the catwalk, we had to then sort out the clothes one last time, back into the dress bags for each individual shops.

Image by Durham City Studios
Image by Durham City Studios

Image by Durham City Studios

Working at Durham Fashion Week, for me, was an amazing opportunity and I loved every minute of it. The working hours were very long, but when you're doing something you love, its worth it right? I would like to say a big thanks to Durham Bid for making the week happen, and thanks to all high street stores who took part, Boho Modeling Agancy for providing excellent models and all the Hair and Beauty stylists!

For more info on the week, you can contact me, or visit Durham Bid on Facebook here, or FashionInDurham on Twitter here.

A big thanks to Durham City Studios for their images! 

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