Written by Sam Jones, Fashion Teacher at Farnborough College of Technology and Top Models’ Backstage Director.
This March saw the Top Model UK/Worldwide event reach its twelfth show year. Farnborough College of Technology fashion students were working at the heart of it for the fifth year in a row.
Under the guidance of myself and former fashion student Hollie, Runway Coordinator and Senior Front of House team member, students were guided through looking after keeping models, designers, the show producer and distinguished guests happy.
Front of House saw a team of four students, Eloise, Charlotte, Isabella and Anya organise the show venue, which was the The Ballroom at Amba Charing Cross Hotel.
First the students laid out the chairs, which sounds simple but precision is needed so much so that an industrial tape measure is used to keep the 180 chairs in line and at exact distances. Once chairs were in their correct location they needed covering, the judge’s area needed setting up and then show leaflets put out on all the seats along with reserved seating signs. Then the VIP bar got the once over, the awards were dusted off and guests were shown to their seats.
While Front of House were organising the venue space, the backstage crew were organising all the models, the models’ self-styled outfits, the designers and their garments. Being precise and organised is crucial. All models are given a model number and the clothing rails are set up with numbers clearly written on labels so the models and dressers can see their garment locations easily. Each model gave in her self-styled outfit and this was hung next to their number, they were then ushered into hair and make-up.
Once designers arrived with their garments the backstage team organised these garments, linking them to each model image that they had taken at the fitting sessions.
Before the Top Model show weekend, the students and I attended two fitting sessions. This is where they work with the designers to see who would look good in their creations. Once this has been decided, the students record down who is wearing what garment and take a photograph. This makes organising the garments on the Show weekend much easier.
Once we have linked garments to models then the steaming begins, any garment that is creased is steamed to make it look at its best. Some designers want everything steamed others just a few key pieces. Then we’re ready for show time.
Just before the shows start, the judges arrive and it’s the backstage team’s responsibility to find them any designer gowns that are not being used, fit them and then get them into hair and make-up. About twenty minutes before the show is due to start I briefed all the models and backstage teams about the show running order and then models are dressed ready for show time.
During the show I liaise with the show director and Hollie on timings, while relaying this information to the backstage teams and the models. This is to ensure that they’re all in the correct location and before you know it it’s all over.
Models who have won awards are directed to the press area while the dressing team help other models get undressed and collect their bags. All the designers’ garments are packed away into their suitcases, the next set of show pictures come out and we set the backstage area up for the next show.
The students working at this year’s event were exceptionally well organised, mature in their approach and extremely diligent ensuring all aspects of the show ran smoothly. I’m really proud of what they have achieved, it’s fantastic industry experience and they were great ambassadors of the college and fashion course during the whole weekend. One student, Jeewan, has secured some work experience at Beligi London, Louise Rose Couture is setting the students a ‘live’ project and we have just received a phone call to be the dressing team at another event.