How-to: Survive a fashion show

Backstage at a fashion show via Wikimedia CommonsArticle originally appeared as How-to: Survive a fashion show at Philippa’s site Speaking well in Public

Appearing in a fashion show may not involve speaking – but it’s still a performance for an audience who want to be intrigued. Here’s how to make the most of a great opportunity to shine, often in a good cause.


Find out exactly what you need to bring:

  • Invest in the right underwear – nude strapless bra, seamless control pants and natural and black tights are always good. No need to spend loads of money. Guys – Same rule for pants.
  • Shoes – if they have to supply them for you, they will hurt. Unless otherwise advised, plain black and nude heels you can walk in. Practice walking in heels if you don’t often. Guys – plain smart black dress shoes.
  • Your own foundation – saves the makeup artist trying to match your skintone, and avoids reactions.
  • Your business cards – these events can be great networking opportunities.
  • Mints and ‘no white marks’ antiperspirant.
  • Painkillers – this is no time for a headache.


  • It won’t be glamorous.
  • It will be chaos – and you will be bored. Bring a book till it’s your turn.
  • People will be panicking, stropping, being dramatic. Don’t be them.
    Things will go wrong, be inconvenient and annoying and compromises will have to happen. Accept gracefully and positively.
  • Things will get lost. Bags may not be secure. Leave valuables at home.
  • You will have to sit while people do things to your face and hair you wouldn’t normally do. There will be an overall look the stylists are going for – resist the temptation to fiddle and add if you don’t like it. You can make suggestions but if it’s a no, just accept it. If it actually hurts, politely but assertively get it put right.
  • Remember to eat. Bring a sandwich and avoid any junk food on offer.
  • Drink lots of water. Avoid coffee and alcohol before and during the event.
  • Be quiet and listen to the director or whoever has the running order, list of who’s wearing what and where you’re supposed to be and when.
  • Watch any demonstrations and do the run through as if it were the real thing because you’ll probably only get the one.
  • Claim the space – walk the route, noting pace, pausing places, where the photographers and VIPs will be.
  • Be careful of your outfit, makeup and hair – spills, smudges and snags don’t help.

On the runway…

  • Deal with nerves – be prepared, think positive, relax and breathe from your middle not your chest.
  • Be in the right place at the right time. They’ll tell you what attitude and mood they want. Get into the right attitude, expression and pose before you go on, so you won’t have to find them in front if the audience.
  • Listen and watch for your cue.
  • When it’s time to go – go on with energy, conviction and commitment. You’re enjoying this and they will too. Keep it up until you’re backstage. Dropping that energy and scuttling for the exit will spoil the effect.

At the end…

  • Be careful with your outfit and hand it back to the right person.
  • Make sure you’ve got everything – and that what you’ve got belongs to you.
  • Remember to thank everyone – the hair and makeup artists will have been working full out to make you all look fabulous.
  • Exchange cards, as you never know where this may lead.
  • Get the photos! They’ll look great on your website, Facebook Page, Twitter feed…


Image credit: Fashion show backstage via WikiMedia Commons

About Philippa Hammond

Speaking Well In Public offers a portfolio of public speaking courses for business, performance and social occasions designed and developed by Philippa Hammond, combining her skills and techniques as an award-winning trainer, working actor and voice artist. Philippa is a member of Equity and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.


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