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How do you plan a fashion show?

The first and most important question you have to ask is why are you having this show? Until you have the answer to that question, it is hard to make any other decisions. The following are suggestions made by students as good reasons (one or more may apply to your school):
  • To raise money (for many grad committees, this is a very profitable fundraiser)
  • To kick off prom ticket sales as a promotion
  • To generate interest in prom/grad, build spirit
  • A way to get parents/teachers/students/community working together
  • Promote the Safe Grad message in a positive way
The answer to this first question will direct the answers to the next set of questions Where? When? What time? When? If you want to raise money, you will need to plan it when the most people can come and where you can hold a good number of people. If you are only building spirit, a lunch hour or assembly show may be more appropriate. Consider as well, what is best for the retailer... planning a week before the event is not very effective for them as decisions have already been made (6-8 weeks before is better). If you are inviting a broader cross-section of the community, do you want to include fashions other than just dressy clothes? Always check with school administration about what other events are happening in the school and/or community before setting a date. Theme it! Pick a theme of some sort to call the show. Or plan a variety of interesting themes for scenes with really current music (i.e. a night to remember). It ties the event together. It could be related to your grad theme in some way. It could be a song (like New York, New York) or a colour (Men or Women in Black!) or a person (like Elvis or Madonna) or an era (60's or progression through fashion periods) or a TV theme (like Friends) or something just for the fun of it (like a country western theme or a swing/jive number). Use some of the theme in your advertising, your choice of music and staging, your choice of clothes and in your commentary. Set up a committee. You need a head and 3-5 heads of sub-committees:
  • Music
  • Promotion/tickets
  • Clothes
  • Actual show co-ordination
Each of these sub-committees work on their area and plan out what help they will need…dressers, sound, hair, stage crew, decorations, tear down/cleanup …etc. Work with retailers. You need to decide what types and/or styles of clothes you want. First of all, try to deal with local retailers, especially in smaller communities. At least, give them first right of refusal! Think of it from the retailer's point of view as to what will help sell their product best. Call ahead and make an appointment to talk with them face-to-face. Express interest in their business and don't assume you are doing them a favour. It costs them time and money to do this. Go prepared with dates, themes, and ideas but listen to the retailer as to what they want to show also. Talk about what height and build in models is best for them and the total number of outfits needed. (again, this depends on the answer to question #1!!!). Don't assume anything. Write down what you agree upon: who picks up and returns the garments, how will they be packaged, what special shoes, stockings, undergarments, jewelry, accessories need to be considered by the models for each outfit. Consider drawing up a contract where you ensure the safety of the garments. Discuss expectations of dressers and commentary with the retailer. Follow-up with a thank you note. Master of Ceremonies. This person sets the tone for the evening. It could be a student, a teacher, a personality (radio, television, and local celebrity), a parent or one or more talented retailers. Make sure you communicate rehearsal times, dress, and messages like safe grad ideas throughout the evening, extra advertising, cost etc. And make sure you recognize the retailers. Models. Keep your numbers reasonable. 40 is way too many. 15-20 who wear several outfits each is much better. Choose regular build models as it makes it much easier for the retailers and actually shows off the clothes better. Body builders are very difficult to fit. Girls between 5'4" and 5'10" require the least alterations and sizes 8 to 14 are usually the sizes they use for shows. Ensure that the models will provide their own proper shoes, stockings, and any jewelry etc. It is easier to have 8 models male and female (16 in total!) and have them change 4 times than it is to have 32 models...both for fittings and co-ordination. Make sure your models have personality, character or some acting ability. They don't mind getting a laugh and are a team player. They need to leave their egos at home! They have to be committed to making it a success…they aren't doing you a favour by modeling. Does their timetable allow for rehearsals?? You may only need 2 or 3 but they are important. They have to be responsible and available for fittings as well. Actual show. Everyone has to arrive early so every detail is complete 15-20 minutes before the show is to begin. That means models dressed, makeup on and hair done. The music, lights and sound should be rechecked 30 minutes before the show. Have backup plans and emergency kits ready. Can someone else wear an outfit if there is a last minute call? Decide on the security of the clothes. Where will they be stored? Who hangs them up as they are changing? Who puts them away? Who is in charge of the security of the money from ticket sales? Communication. Consider how you might promote some of the Safe Grad message during this show in an upbeat, entertaining way. It is a good opportunity to involve parents in your efforts.
Good luck! We wish you all the best with the show!
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