For those of you whose invitations unfortunately got lost in the post this season, you most likely spent your days watching footage of London Fashion Week online – I know I’ve spent many a fashion week obsessively watching show highlights from my bedroom, wishing I was in the frow with the likes of Anna Wintour. Behind the scenes, a large production team is involved in creating this footage. In the hopes of getting closer to the backstage and action, regarding London Fashion Week, I applied to be a part of that team – a runner to be exact.
It is important to understand the long hours that is asked of me. Unpaid and yes runners are taken advantage of.
What Does A Fashion Week Runner Do?
In essence, a runner is deployed by the producer and other production staff to assist wherever they are needed on productions. If you don’t like taking orders, being a runner is not for you. My work was extremely varied, but essentially I was there to fetch and carry – a dogsbody if you will. But despite being bottom of the production chain, I quickly came to the conclusion that runners are the indispensable foot soldiers of the team, performing small but vital tasks.
Footage For Editors
Way back in the day where social media and mobile phone’s were non existent. I can’t even fathom the running around that would have taken to get collections noticed in hard copy paper back magazines. Nowadays, everything is happening live so the pressure is not so much how fast I run but when. With Tik Tok, influencers and Instagram posts running live, why do i need to run technology to other venues?
My main duties were arranging and collecting the lunch and dinner orders for twenty or so production staff (whatever you do, do not miss anybody’s order things can get rather tense after a 12 hour day), and acting as a courier there was a lot of standing about involved whilst waiting for a show to finish, followed by a lot of somewhat flustered rushing to get the footage back to the production office so the team could begin editing. Highly glamorous, I know.
One thing I will say if you’re thinking of being a Fashion Week runner – do not make the mistake of wearing your new, blog worthy heels on the first day. While they may look great with the ensemble you’ve had picked out for a month, you’ll have sore feet for the rest of your time there. Flats are a runner’s best friend.
Wear Stylish Trainers
It is important to look stylish trainers but have runners that keep you on your toes when the speed is required. Don’t wear white as it gets filthy fast. Lot’s of toe stepping backstage can happen and spillage. Make sure you have more than one pair for the week.
I would wear clothing that is comfortable, does not get in the way of you carrying items and are light weight for your long hours of duty.
Though I may not have sold the job particularly well, being a Fashion Week runner does come with some serious perks. When I had nothing to do between tasks I was able to catch a show in the BFC Courtyard Show Space and assist the team in getting some street style shots outside the British Fashion Council offices, which quickly became my source of inspiration – London really does have the best street style and it was hard not to get swept up in all the excitement directly before a show. I got some amazing outfit shots and saw a fair few recognisable faces.
Attending the presentation, admittedly whilst waiting for one of the camera men to help him transport equipment – coincidentally, if you can’t afford a gym membership be a runner for a week; you’ll feel pain in muscles you never knew existed.
A runner is in the name. You are asked to get items from varies places even when it comes to sewing kits.
As a runner, your hours will be both long and irregular, and you probably won’t be paid anything more than expenses. Being as fashion obsessed as I am, I accepted the position knowing this. Was it worth it? Yes, most definitely. It is good training to see what your stress levels can hold up to. Just like The Devil Wear Prada, movie the levels and demands are extreme.
You may get a look in at catwalks, but these days seating are tight. So you may be left disappointed being left back stage. But this is valuable experience and be proactive and step in when the stress levels get heated up.
It’s Your Step Into Fashion
Now there are many influencers that don’t even start as a runner who end up at the catwalks. But if your goal is to be a make up artist, a fashion designer let alone work for Toni & Guy as a stylist. A runner is an excellent way to get noticed or scouted. As there are people with influence watching and looking for reliable and proactive young people. Make sure you shower every morning, smell good and be well mannered. Don’t take offense if you get yelled at, as the PR and designer are under lots of financial pressure to get the job done.