Fashionweek: A day in the life

Published Wednesday, 17 October 2012
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Belfast Fashionweek is underway and with catwalk shows kicking off on Thursday, the woman behind the event chats preparation, inspiration, and wardrobe malfunctions.

It's the city's only week dedicated to fashion, and with four catwalk shows between Thursday and Saturday, show day is a long one for everyone involved.

"Clothes arrive between 9 and 10am and they're all checked off to make sure that nothing's lost and everything's as it should be," explains Fashionweek director Cathy Martin.

Fittings usually go on until after lunch and that's when models try on the clothes allocated to them.

"If it's the wrong size or isn't fitting they'll be stitched into it or there will be an exchange."

Next up is two hours in hair and makeup, and that's where the top hair and makeup teams organised by Andrew Mulvenna and Paddy McGurgan come in.

In between rehearsals and technical run throughs, press photographers get their opportunity to snap the models.

When the audience arrive at 7pm, it's time for the backstage team to move front of house.

"Just before 7.45pm models are all in their first outfits with final touch ups in hair and makeup and then ready to go at 8pm when the show kicks off," Cathy added.

A team of up to 60 are on hand, with Cathy's full-time staff of five supplemented by students, volunteers and former staff, who come along because they love Fashionweek.

"It is a good event to work on - it's fun and it's fast-paced and dynamic. It can be stressful just before the show, but we're a very happy bunch backstage!" she laughed.

The campaign for A/W 2012 Fashionweek.

The A/W 2012 shows promise to be very different to anything we've seen so far, with the sets taking a turn from bright lights and sparkly catwalks to dark, embellished backdrops.

"Our set is quite interesting this year," said Cathy. "On the Belfast Fashionweek advert our set was a model in a brocade dress in front of a lovely black flocked wallpaper, so we've tried to recreate that backdrop for the set this year.

"It'll be put in place on Thursday morning, so I'm hoping it will be as beautiful as the ad campaign."

So with models, their hair and makeup all in place, and the set ready to go, Cathy said she's also ready to handle any last minute occurrences.

"It has happened that a piece has fallen apart or ripped just before it's due to go onstage but in that case we drop the look and the model doesn't walk.

"Another time a model held on to the back of the backdrop as she was walking off the stage and the thing nearly, nearly collapsed. Thankfully it didn't, but there was a rocky moment when the set was nearly away.

"It all could be much worse but nothing really bad has ever happened so far, fingers crossed!"

There's extra pressure this year, as Cathy isn't just organising one Fashionweek - she's planning three, including the ten year anniversary shows in 2014, but she said big fashion events are "second nature" to the team.

"If I didn't love it I wouldn't be doing it. It's not even that I close one chapter and open another, it's just kind of a flow.

"There's a big passion for fashion there, a love of events and a love of getting things done efficiently and correctly. It's not that I need inspiration or a spur on, it's just what we do day-to-day."

© UTV News
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Sara Neill
Sara Neill

Sara Neill joined UTV's Webteam as an online journalist in 2011, previously having worked for radio and print outlets.

She has covered a range of topics, from the Saville Report to the Royal Wedding or new sounds on Northern Ireland's music scene and fashion shows.

In her spare time, she likes to read poetry and 1960s American literature and blog about all things makeup, hair and beauty.

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