Working Backstage at New York Fashion Week
By Erica Kavanagh
Photo courtesy of Kathleen GreyFashion journalism alum, Kathleen Grey experienced working backstage at New York City’s biggest annual fashion event.
After studying at Florence University of the Arts in the spring semester of 2015, Grey returned to her home university, Emmanuel College in Boston, Massachusetts. Since then, she has contributed to her school’s Her Campus chapter, an online magazine and hired by a public relations agency for freelance work at this year’s New York Fashion Week. What was your involvement in this year’s New York Fashion Week?
KG: It all started with my good friend in New York they were instrumental in helping me get to New York Fashion Week
because you have to have some sort of connection in order to get involved. However I was lucky enough to get hired to work backstage with a public relations agency. Basically what we did was prepare for the events. I worked only for one day but during that one day I helped set up for two shows, Project Runway and Karigam (an unique label, also an emerging designer). It was a really long day, which started at 5am and went until 4pm. During that time we did a ton of work with that being said without the use of PR agencies there wouldn’t have been a show because they do all the set up. This opportunity was an incredible backstage look into what happens behind the scenes, including all the preparations. I really appreciated it. How did you prepare for the event, and how long did it take?
KG: I traveled with my photographer and friend, Julia. We were in New York City for three days despite only working backstage for one. The preparation for this trip was a very strenuous process. However with the backstage perks I didn’t really feel the need to prepare in a sense to study. I figured I was capable of doing it since it my passion. Therefore it was really awesome not worry about the forethought of it, I just knew what was going to happen. In order to get this opportunity I had to send over my resume and application to the agency. Once I was hired I realized this chance isn’t granted to everyone, which made me really proud of myself. Regarding the rest of the preparations for New York Fashion Week was the travel logistics, creating objectives for the trip, discussing and planning ideas for my blog, etc. Were there any designers or collections that surprised you?
KG: Well with working backstage I was lucky enough to sit down in the show for the second designer, Karigam. I have never gone to an official runway show in New York for a real label, so that was awesome. I was so excited and I had no idea that we would have that opportunity, so that was a nice surprise. Unfortunately other than those two shows I didn’t get to see any other designers. Basically the motive for my blog while in New York was to view the fashion industry with occurrences of fashion week through street style. It was a great portal of what was going to happen at the shows and I kept track of who was having a show, what their lines were looking like, and all the fashions that were going to come out for Spring/Summer. I was definitely surprised with many of the designers I was tracking, one of them was Rachel Zoe, I loved her collection and she is one of my favorites. Additionally, Diane Von Furstenberg
had very beautiful things that were different from what her traditional lines typically look like. I was really surprised by the elements that [Von Furstenberg] used. Other designers that caught my eye were Alexander Wang, and Rebecca Minkoff. What initially inspired your interest for fashion?
KG: My relationship with fashion has been long stemmed. I have been dressing up, playing different parts, wearing all different types of things for my whole life. Ever since I could remember I was really little and my mom had this box of dress up clothes for me and it was all stuff she had worn. My interest in fashion started there, trying on all her worn outfits, I loved it. I would say in general the women and men in my life have shaped my style, my dreams, and my career I hope to follow. My mother and grandmother were especially instrumental in the development of my passion. There was and is a lot of inspiration that comes from my close relationships from the people I know and love. How would you describe the relationship between the fashion industry and the media?
KG: For a couple years now since I attended college I’ve been intensely looking at this industry from the public relations and journalistic side of things. I appreciate both sides but looking at the different changes that have come about I would have to say the fashion industry is almost the media and the media is almost the fashion industry and that has it’s perks and downfalls. I think in the progression of what our media is and it’s transition from print to online to blogs and videos, all the different channels that the media has taken over that has carried over into the fashion industry. I would say today the media heavily influences the biggest names in fashion. While attending FUA, which classes and/or experiences do you believe best prepared you for this event?
KG: I took many courses while studying at Florence University of the Arts, however I believe the Fashion Magazine class with Professor Federico Cagnucci was the most helpful and crucial. Since I want to be involved and work in fashion journalism, this course helped me bridge the gap between public relations/journalism and the fashion industry. Understanding and utilizing the different skills taught throughout the course overall helped me become a better candidate and allowed me to experience the amazing opportunity at NYFW. How would you define your personal brand and style? And in what ways do you depict this through your blog?
KG: Fashion blogs are not about just wearing great clothes or having cool outfits, it’s important to bring more to the table and to have more substance; I think it’s crucial. How I would define my brand is something that is inspiring and sends a positive message whether it’s body image, self-image, mentality, and positivity. I like to incorporate all those elements into each post that is really what has been about and has transitioned into. As far as my style that can go on for hours. I love wearing different things, but nothing too abstract. I would define my style as refined feminism. I think it’s cool to wear pants or wear a suit, it is a classy, sophisticated style mixed in with roughness or differentness. It’s hard to put it into one category since I do wear a wide variety of things.my blogDid Italy’s culture influence your work while you were abroad, if so in what ways?
KG: Yes! Whenever I went out to go shopping or to go out into town it was always an experience, the streets are always like runways. I have this one image in my head of a woman that I saw in Piazza Republica. She was fabulous; she looked like she fell out of an advertisement for Burberry. She was wearing a beige trench coat, nice tailored slacks and high stilettos. I was in awe by the way she walked on the cobblestone, and flew back her hair so effortlessly before she rode off into the sunset on her Vespa. To me that was something that was so cool, the whole juxtaposition of it. The Italian fashion culture plays a huge role in society and definitely influences what I like to wear. Fashion magazines are incredibly competitive, what advice would give other FUA students looking to enter the same industry?
KG: The advice is plain and simple, and not complicated because I think that is how everybody views their career path. After school it’s a huge question, I get it right now because I am a senior and all the adults in my life love to ask what are you going to do when you graduate, and that’s a huge pressure. It’s hard to resist that pressure or not give in to it and be intimidated. So my advice for those who are studying abroad and many studying in the fashion industry to really put your heart into it and to take chances. You never know who you are going to meet and some of the best advice I have received was to just be kind to everyone because you never know who’s around you and what connections or relations they have. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself, put your best foot forward and to work hard. Nothing comes easy and success is not for free, that’s important to keep in mind no matter what career path you desire.
Check out Kathleen Grey’s Fashion Blog