10 things nobody tells you about working at fashion week

Published 19th Feb 2017 by rachael

With the London shows just around the corner, we spoke to backstage veteran Elena Lavagni at Neville Hair and Beauty for her expert advice about working as a hairdresser at fashion week.

  1. Pack well everything you need before the show. You really cannot ask the host at the catwalk venue (which could be a church or a museum) whether they have an extra pair of hairnets.
  2. Get the list of the names of the models working at your show. Memorize not only their names but their faces as well; then keep track of them at all times. You wouldn't believe how much effort and energy goes into luring them into the chair of any of my stylists.
  3.  Make sure that all your team members wear backstage passes. If one of them is missing for a long time it's probably because he/she went on a cigarette break without their pass and wasn't allowed back in by the security.
  4. Get to know the designer's PR team. They are your first port of call in any dilemma or backstage drama. And London surely has the most talented PR teams in the world; better than any other fashion capital.
  5. Don't bring too many hangers-on backstage with you. It's chaotic anyway and they only distract all the hard-working artists, such as hair stylists, make-up artists and dressers. TV crews are the worst in my opinion. Most of the presenters have no clue about the backstage dynamics and their work there is mostly an interference with ours.
  6. Make sure that you know who is taking pictures of you and why. I still think that the image of the brand and all that encompasses should be protected. If you can't control it, it should at least be curated well.
  7. Dress appropriately for the backstage and also make sure your team does too. It's boiling hot in the backstage 'trenches' and London Fashion Week has always been the hottest backstage!
  8. For me it's also very important to see the catwalk show in full, not only the backstage. Your backstage pass doesn't give you an access to the front row so ask the designer's PR team politely for a ticket. Standing is fine. It means I can see and indulge in the overall ambiance and all the buzz around the catwalk much better.
  9. Bring your own music for your backstage team. Catwalk soundchecks can me overwhelmingly uninspiring, not to say annoying, when you are trying to create magic backstage.
  10. The hair-team manager has to be lots of people at once backstage, especially at an event as busy and crazy as London Fashion Week. I am the manager, the mother, the psychotherapist and the doctor all at once. One minute I'm braiding the wig, the next I'm looking for an extra Nurofen for the model who just got a headache as her hair has been styled 'too tight'. Be prepared to juggle and you better do it well as you might not be given a second chance. London crowd is the toughest in the world.


Published 19th Feb 2017

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