It's that time of year again - New York Fashion Week - which seems to return as quickly as it ends. The spring and fall collections occur for a week in September and February, respectively. As glamorous as Fashion Week may appear to be - and it is - those two weeks are still the most stressful weeks of a fashion publicist's life.
As an in-house PR team at a fashion house (which was my experience, as I worked for an iconic women's wear designer), you are often responsible for more than traditional PR when show time rolls around.
This may include:
Guest list: Determining who attends the show can be a laborious task, as you have to fill 800+ seats. Not only do you have to decide who gets seated vs. standing, you then have to determine the exact seat they get. Are they a big retailer? Important editor? Designer's family member? You must take all this into consideration with the designer and play musical chairs. Then you create a second guest list for the afterparty.
Seating: Often you will work with an agency that handles the “front of house,” which involves sending out invitations, collecting RSVPs, and, finally, managing the seating chart. However, as the client with special editorial and personal relationships, you have to participate in this process, as seating is very political.
Press requests: Fashion Week is when press from all over the world come out of the woodwork. Everybody is all of a sudden a VIE (Very Important Editor) for a media outlet that was never on your radar. Reviewing these requests can be overwhelming, but it is important to make sure the right press attend and, more importantly, that the select few who truly need backstage interviews get them.
Run of show/Program: The PR team is often responsible for drafting the run of show (names of models and description of their looks in order of appearance) in addition to the press release for the show (the inspiration/theme. This requires attending fittings to observe the designer and stylist as they determine the final looks.
Gift bags: If you decide to have gift bags at your show, your team will be responsible for securing the items inside and, better yet, assembling all of them. Calling all interns!
Show day: On show day, given that you have a team handling front of house, you focus your attention on the designer and make sure they secure all the photos/interviews you booked for them in advance. Yet, it's a zoo backstage and many more media outlets will show up demanding interviews, so it's your job to manage the press and make decisions based on the best interest of your brand.
Before you know it, months of preparation and a crunch time of 14-hour days over two weeks straight is over in 15 minutes. Assuming everything went off without a hitch (and lights didn't fall from the ceiling—yes, that happened to me), you now head off to your next event, the afterparty, where you work the room harder than the models worked the runway.
Alexis Rodriguez is executive director of global communications at Bobbi Brown Cosmetics - @LexiRo29 or @ThePRCloset.