On The Runway at New York Fashion Week 2015

 Originally posted on Paper Mothball Vintage
Photography by Laura Okita

 February in New York City, for some it may bring to mind blizzards of snow and ice, for others its all about love and romance, but around the world many will flock to the city, swelling its streets, cafes and clubs for Fashion Week. Tomorrow kicks off a tradition first started in 1943 by editor Eleanor Lambert. Originally called Press Week, it was an event that would open the door for American designers, ultimately equaling the original shows of Paris with its own unique Western aesthetics.

I feel I’ve lived in fashion my whole life and have had the opportunity to see it from many different view points, as a model for over 10 years, through my husband who is a hair and makeup artist, as a fashion designer and as photographer. While my favorite role recently has come to be photographer, a small part of me misses the shows. They are a unique experience, felt differently by each person in every position involved from designer, model or production to audience. So what is it like to be a model in a fashion show? What is it like backstage?


Organized chaos, Boredom, Stress, Panic, Discomfort, Fear, Exhaustion,… Exhilaration. These are some of the words that come to mind when I think of a runway show, nothing that would describe the beautiful images that float off of the catwalk.

As a model you begin by going to the initial runway casting. Its a mass kind of go-see runway test done by a casting agent. From there if chosen you also have to go to the designer’s castings. If you are selected for the show, you have fittings. None of this process is explained to new young models and you just sort of feel like you are bouncing around town from one unknown casting to another, then, all the sudden your casting sheet for the next day has runway shows on the to do list.



Shows are rarely all the same and the range of how they go is as big as the range of venues. Ive walked in shows from small with the backstage being the VIP room of a club with a curtain drawn to full scale production in event centers for fashion week and everything in between. You arrive at the show entering backstage and it would seem that no one cares what you do. I always try to find a hair and makeup artist or run through my clothes with my dresser, but I suppose some models float until prodded to where they must be. It can be a frantic mess getting ready, someone putting eye liner on you at the same time your hair is being yanked back into a ponytail while the director is shouting to finish. Sometimes you get everything done and sit and wait for what feels like eternity until the show starts. Sometimes there are rehearsals. Then you get in your first look. Some shows are really strict and others dont care, some you cannot sit down, you cannot eat, you cannot take your shoes off. There is always the model crying about not wanting the makeup, the one secretly switching her shoes, trying to not have to do one thing or another.



Once the show starts its over in a flash. You hurry and panic until you emerge onto the runway at which point you become instantly calm, serene, fierce or lovely. Then, you turn the corner backstage and its a running panic to change, getting back to the line while your dresser trails after you zipping. Finale and done. Exhausted. Celebrate. Do it again. Remove as much makeup and hairspray from your pores and under your eyelids as possible for the next day. The shows.



I was at Lincoln Center to take my photos with my tripod. I succeeded in taking a few here and a few there on the sidewalk. Then, I went into the center courtyard and was informed that tripods were not aloud. Something in my brain told me that I remembered that from somewhere before. Drat! I left my husband at home to sleep. He was recovering from the couture shows in Paris. What would I do?! Luckily there was a nice gentleman that passed by and he snapped the center courtyard photo of me. Thank you! This is the last year that the shows will be held at The Lincoln Center and I really wanted to get some pictures of this piece of history.

I found this dress at Dear Golden, one of my favorite shops for browsing and indulging. I thought that the color would be perfect for the location, and I never can resist this silhouette, especially when its silk, velvet or stripes – and this one was all three!



There have been many evolutions of the runway walk. I was trained when I was young in a very formal parlor style runway of the 1950s and 60, however, my favorite version is the late 90s. This is my own little version that I felt was nice for the dress. xo



Paper Mothball Vintage

Laura Okita is a vintage fashion designer, photographer and vintage editorial blogger living in Brooklyn, NY, and model for over 10 years in New York, Europe and Japan. "I am mostly self taught using vintage sewing patterns. I create all my garment patterns and sew all my designs. I specialize in luxury fabrics and hand beading and embroidery, and occasionally create my own prints for fabrics. I take most of my own pictures and videos, working in both film and digital. As a model, I always try to bring the clothing to life. Every garment has its own story that it wants to tell. When I step into a dress, I step into being that girl."

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