From the front row, fashion shows seem effortlessly chic.
Gorgeous models strut their way down the catwalk in bold, beautiful clothes, strike a pose and walk back behind the curtain.
However, a great deal of preparation takes place for those 45 seconds each model walks down the catwalk.
Fashion shows are one of the most demanding events to produce, and the Fashion Design and Merchandising Association’s 17th annual Illinois State University Fashion Show is no exception. Behind the scenes, there’s an army working day and night to ensure the show goes off without a hitch.
Senior fashion merchandising major and Director Marissa Wuethrich and senior fashion merchandising major and Associate Director Morgan Murphy explain that with the help of a board of directors, a marketing team, designers, models and volunteers, ISU’s student-led fashion show is made possible.
Both Wuethrich and Murphy were hired to their positions at the end of last spring semester. Throughout the summer, they brainstormed ideas for the show. The fall was then dedicated to setting a theme, marketing the fashion show and preparing guest lists. However, once January hit, chaos set in.
“Everything doesn’t start rolling until about January when we have model auditions and have all of our final designers to pick their models,” Murphy said
“[Lately,] I’ve been constantly emailing Molly, who works with the Brown Ballroom, and trying to set up the whole [show's] layout,” Wuethrich added. “Then [I'm] working with Ticketmaster, working with tech and light,and then with hair and makeup… There’s a lot that goes into the production that people don’t know about.”
Regarding the designing side, designers can start their collections whenever, as long as the designs are purely original.
Design Director Shannon Juliah Bowie, senior fashion design and merchandising major, explained she had a whole collection and decided to scratch it last minute and start from the very beginning.
“[My inspiration] just really comes to me. I don’t go looking for it and try to force it,” Bowie said.
Bowie explains the most stressful part about the ISU Fashion Show is deadlines.
“As design director, I have to collect everyone else’s work on time,” Bowie said. “I’m trying to manage myself while trying to help everyone to get their stuff in on time. Staying motivated to keep going [is also hard] because it gets really stressful.”
However, all the hard work pays off, especially with this year’s theme, “Legacy.” Designers can either make their collection about what legacy has been led by them or make their collections about how they would like to be remembered at ISU.
"I like that [the theme] is not limiting us," Bowie said. "Everyone has their own individual theme of what they want to leave behind at ISU."
Not only does the legacy theme work for individual designers featured in the show, but it also works for the overall fashion design and merchandising program at ISU as well.
“Our program is super small, and this is a great way to showcase it,” Murphy said. “It’s awesome to see that we have so many talented people who are willing to share their collection and people who are willing to take time out of their school day to come volunteer for us.”
Overall, both Murphy and Wuethrich hope everyone has a memorable experience.
“I hope the models have a fun time, that the designers are happy with how their stuff was presented on stage, that the professors are proud of their students and that all audience members have a good time,” Wuethrich said.
The ISU Fashion Show will be at 7 p.m. Friday in the Brown Ballroom. Mocktail hour begins at 5 p.m. Tickets are $15 each and can still be bought on Ticketmaster.