Select Page
Behind-the-scenes photos of a New York Fashion Week show reveal what guests don’t see, from models getting accessories glued to their bodies to last-minute changes

Behind-the-scenes photos of a New York Fashion Week show reveal what guests don’t see, from models getting accessories glued to their bodies to last-minute changes

ADEAM show day

Backstage is cramped with models, stylists, and hair and makeup artists.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

  • Hanako Maeda, fashion designer at the brand ADEAM, showed her Spring/Summer 2020 collection during New York Fashion Week this September.
  • Born in Tokyo and raised in New York City, the ADEAM designer is typically influenced by elements of the two cultures. This season, Maeda was inspired by her parents’ hometown near the Port of Yokohama.
  • I spent the morning shadowing Hanako and taking in all the excitement backstage before the brand’s afternoon runway show.
  • From music and seating setup to grooming and last-minute steaming, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that guests would never notice.
  • Here’s an intimate look at my time with the brand, and everything that went on in the jam-packed three hours that made up before, during, and after showtime.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

My alarm goes off at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday and unlike every other morning, I don’t hit snooze. I have some getting ready to do before meeting the ADEAM team at the set of their runway show.

A board with each look and who is wearing them sits at the mouth of backstage.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

ADEAM founder and designer Hanako Maeda is showing her Spring/Summer 2020 collection at New York Fashion Week, and her team has invited me in for an up-close look at all the goings-on backstage.

Hanako Maeda pictured above.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

This is my first time experiencing backstage through the lens of the designer.

I’ve held jobs in which I’ve been both a seated guest and a behind-the-scenes coordinator, but this is totally different.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

I arrive on set at 11:15 a.m. and most of the team is already here working out the space.

ADEAM Vice President Blair Nemiroff goes through seating arrangements.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Hair and makeup stations are being set up …

ADEAM partnered with NARS makeup company for the show.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

… models are slowly trickling in …

For some models, this is their first show of the day.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

… and Hanako is walking through the space, signing off on “adjustments,” and discussing the details — iced coffee in hand.

Hanako tells me she got to the Chelsea, Manhattan, show venue at around 10 a.m.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Carts of stanchions and electrical equipment whirl around her.

People who work at the venue shuffle equipment back and forth across the room.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

“I think we should just go as we planned,” I hear Hanako say to a small group. “We’re going to have the smallest number of mistakes if we just go as we planned it.”

There are hiccups, and professional show executors want to change things up to adapt. But Hanako is confident in her original plan.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

An initial run-through for the models is about to start, and Hanako and ADEAM VP Blair Nemiroff are strategizing about where to sit and watch. “You sit there and I’ll sit here,” the designer says. “And you guys can compare notes,” a PR woman confirms as she finishes Hanako’s sentence.

One of many mini huddles of the day pictured above.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

They are trying to figure out which direction to face guests on the bench farthest from backstage — if they have them facing out, would people in the next row think they were slighted and not given the front-row seat they were promised?

Seating at a fashion show is a true game of industry politics. Seats are assigned through a system of numbers and letters.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Someone else comes by and tells Hanako that she overheard models telling the stylist, Ada Kokosar, that this season’s ADEAM shoes are the most comfortable shoes they’ve walked in yet. Hanako lets out a relieved “Yay!” — a small win for her in the midst of pre-show stress.

She’s happy and tells me, “I want to make sure that the pieces are actually comfortable to wear.”

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

People in the room grab a seat so they can watch the run-through that’s about to happen — this is when models are led through the path of the runway while wearing their personal clothes.

A model practices weaving in and out of the benches.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

I take a seat next to Hanako, and Sada Ito, the lead makeup artist, comes to sit next to me. He tells me he’s been at the space since 9 a.m. — it’s now noon — and that the models started to arrive at 10 a.m.

Sada Ito (left) and Hanako (right) wait for the run-through to start.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

“Normally in a horizontal space you would just make it parallel,” Hanako says of the slightly-angled runway. “But we’re doing it diagonally so that we get a clear model shot — so that there’s more space for the models to walk by the windows.”

View of the runway as seen from the photographer risers.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

But there’s a little bit of concern in her voice as she continues: “I think we should make it look like it’s intentionally diagonal instead of just random because then it looks a little messy and arbitrary, and I want the guests to feel like it’s organized.”

She gets up to tell a showrunner the angle of the benches needs to be more clearly intentional.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

A family member — or possibly a friend of the family — whispers from across the aisle: “Hanako, I heard you’re teaming up with someone very important. How exciting!” Of course, nothing is confirmed yet and Hanako can’t tell me the details, but she smiles wide and clarifies that she’s got some collaborations in the works.

Hanako talks with family and friends.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

It seems to be that every time there is a moment of concern for the designer, someone steps in with a small burst of positivity. She’s receptive to the good things and allows them to get from her ears to her head, making her smile, all the while staying alert to anything that may be going on a few conversations away.

Her head is clearly in the game, but she also doesn’t have tunnel vision.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

I move across the aisle from Hanako so I can capture her reaction, and from my new seat I hear Laurent Philippon — the lead hairdresser — talking with his team across from me …

Laurent Philippon (front row, left) pictured above.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

… and a number of people in black speaking parts of a conversation via headset.

Headsets are lined up cleanly for the publicists and showrunners who need them.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

The models start walking out in half-done hair and their own street clothes. “Remember: Please stay close to the windows, not the benches,” says the blonde line leader who can easily be mistaken for a runway model herself.

Models follow her like ducklings.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

This season’s shoes are lace-up heels — beautiful, except that they aren’t staying put high up on the models’ calves. “Why don’t we just wrap it like …” Hanako says, pointing out the fallen laces. “Yeah,” Ada quickly affirms. She’s got it.

Stylist Ada jumps up from her seat next to me and starts re-tying a model’s shoe.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

The next run-through will feature music that Mode-F — the sound team — has been working with the ADEAM team to put together exclusively for this show. “Should we fix the shoes for the technical run-through?” Hanako asks as the music starts up. “Yes,” Ada confirms, “They’re fixed.” She always seems to be one step ahead.

The Mode-F team sets up their equipment.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

As if by request, the positivity comes through again: Ada says, “I like it” — talking about the laces lying haphazardly around models’ ankles — which makes Hanako burst out into two sharp-but-genuine HA HAs. That’s a hard no from the designer, but she appreciates the efforts of her team to look on the bright side. They all laugh and blame gravity — naturally.

This is the way the laces are supposed to look.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

The technical run-through is about to start and Hanako tells me what she’ll be paying attention to: “We’re going to see the lighting and how it affects the models’ makeup and hair. We’ll also know about the pacing of the models — we have three girls changing so we’ll see if the timing is okay and make sure we have enough models on the runway.”

A model gets her makeup done backstage.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

During the practice finale, Hanako gets up to take a look at what her victory/thank-you route will look like. “I just want to say ‘thank you’ to as many people as possible,” I hear her say.

She plots a short route that will pass most of the seated guests.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

The music slows and then quiets completely and I hear a series of, “Girls, back to lineup please.”

The last of the models finish up their mock-finale and head backstage.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Someone backstage is explaining to their army of helpers how to tie the laces so there’s as small of a chance of them falling as possible. The low hum of the playlist is still vibrating through the space as Mode-F continues their testing.

A woman in black takes great care while lacing up the shoes — no one wants to be responsible for one of them coming undone on the runway.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

A woman talks about her wedding plans in one corner while people in headsets check in with Hanako in another. A chorus of high-pitched “Hi! How are you?!”s becomes almost as much a part of the ambient noise as Mode-F’s playlist — constantly there to the point where you almost don’t notice it anymore.

There are so many conversations happening at once.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Models sit on the floor and chat while they wait for their next turn in the hair and makeup chairs. All the wheels are now in motion and no one is without a task.

They’re not on the floor for long — things move quickly.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

A man sporting all black and a headset gets on a microphone and asks everyone to “Please clear the show space for empty room photos.” Everyone piles backstage and into out-of-view corners.

He has to ask three times before people clear the space.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

It’s past 1 p.m. and Hanako tells me that the show scheduled before hers got a late start, which means both models and guests coming from that show to this one aren’t here yet. Casting a show is a puzzle — models walk several shows per day and in order for everything to run smoothly, every show needs to start on time.

Of course, starting on time is far from likely. The call time on ADEAM’s invitation is 1 p.m.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

The models who are there, though, get their hair done …

There are photos of how models’ hair should look on the wall.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

A lot of the models are on their phones while they’re being groomed.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Sada Ito completes some finishing touches.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Some makeup artists are taking photos of their masterpieces on their phones before the models get dressed.

Some of them share their looks on social media.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

On the other side of the room, styling assistants talk to Hanako about what they “usually” do as models line up to go out on the runway. But this season, the backstage area is cramped and narrow — there’s not enough room for all these people to work hands-on. They maneuver and figure out what to do while Hanako gives another pre-show interview.

No crevice of the room goes unused.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

She tells the reporter about ADEAM’s signature yarn — a blend of cotton and polyester — that’s made in Japan. She also talks about her decision to experiment this season with the brand’s usual Japanese denim by using a stonewashed version.

Some reporters speak with the designer before the show and others wait until after.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

There are a few on-the-street photographers there, waiting for industry icons and people dressed in fabulous things to walk by. The atmosphere is thick with time-triggered anxiety.

I can feel the mood of “Come on, let us in,” that’s seeping through the pores of guests.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Guests ride the freight elevator up to the show space and are herded around the curtains to their assigned seats. It’s around 1:15 p.m.

Guests enter the venue, mingle with one another, and find their seats.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

I duck backstage again just in time for first looks — the time before the show when both editorial and house photographers can get their detail-driven shots in.

Models have handfuls of cameras in their face at a time.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

A photographer from NARS, the makeup brand, tries to capture the done-up models while a hairdresser tries to get photos that highlight the “natural wave” style he’s accomplished with the help of curling irons and wide brushes.

It takes a lot to get hair to look perfectly “natural.”

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Photographers are sneaking between one another to get their shot. It’s every person for themselves.

They ask each other to move out of the way.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

On the other side of the clothing rack, an ADEAM team member is gluing ear cuffs onto a model’s upper cartilage.

The accessories are an important part of each look.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Someone says: “We have to press the ruffles!” There’s a model in a blue-and-white striped dress that’s looking pretty wrinkled. Seamstresses heat up the iron and place a board between the dress and the model’s skin so the hot air doesn’t burn her. There’s a system for everything.

They contemplate having her take the dress off completely, but there’s no time.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Security tries to clear backstage of any lingerers. I’m crouched underneath a monitor displaying a live runway feed when a security guard asks me if I’m a house photographer. I tell her I’m with Hanako, but she double checks with the team to make sure.

I don’t take offense to her skepticism because everyone is just doing their jobs.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Hanako tells another reporter about how the collection’s cocktail pieces can transition to daywear while those wearing black line up models next to her.

Another reporter comes in for a pre-show interview.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

There’s blue painter’s tape on the floor showing each model where to stand.

The tabs are labeled with each model’s name.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

The hum of Mode-F comes back into audible focus. Everyone is tying up loose ends — literally and figuratively — and “Hi! How are you?!” turns into “Thankyousomuch.”

It’s go-time.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

It’s now 1:30 p.m. A woman in black says: “Models, it’s showtime!”

They’re ready to go.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Hanako’s eyes are on the monitor looking to see who has arrived, and she’s shaking the nerves out of her hands.

She hops around to get some of the energy out.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

“Yep, step up,” a woman in black says to the first model. Boom. Mode-F is now commanding attention with a combination of booming bass and twinkling piano and the first model is sent out to walk.

The moment has arrived.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

The first models come back to the dressing area and run to change into their next look.

The music has transitioned into a song with vocals and a deep bass.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

At the seven-minute mark, the models take their finale lap all together.

Guests get to see the collection go by all at once.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Then at eight minutes and 30 seconds, Hanako runs out onto the runway and everyone applauds. She graciously bows and thanks everyone for coming.

The audience cheers.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

She returns backstage one minute later to a huge round of applause. The music quiets but continues to play.

Everyone is watching on the monitor.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

The show is over and it’s taken all of 10 minutes from the first bass boom to the moment Hanako returns backstage.

So much work happens for such a quick moment.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Most guests stand up quickly and rush out. They’re already onto the next show.

Everyone says goodbye and rushes to the elevator.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

“I’m super super excited,” Hanako tells me after it’s all over. “I think it was better than planned, which is one of the fun parts of doing a show. It’s really unexpected and it’s sometimes better than what you could imagine.” Then she’s pulled into a post-show interview.

Hanako explains the collection to Shannon Adducci of Footwear News.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Family and friends come backstage to hug Hanako and cloak her in praise.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is part of the gracious crowd.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

They gush over the collection and Hanako dabs away tears of both joy and relief.

She does a great job at keeping her makeup in-tact.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Models are changed and run out to get to their next show. They stop to thank Hanako and the styling team, double-kissing everyone on the way out. The sharp “Thankyousomuch”s become “Mwa! Mwa! See you!”

The double kiss is a staple of fashion etiquette.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

The show space is broken down within minutes — seat cards get peeled up and thrown away …

Everyone has a job during cleanup.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

… and the risers, lighting, and music setup gets broken down.

The risers are put together so people photographing the show can have a good angle.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

The PR team is celebrating their umpteenth finish for fashion week thus far, but they’re also running out to get to their next show.

Onto the next!

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Meanwhile, backstage, the hair and makeup teams pack up their suitcases …

All teams seem to use suitcases for their gear.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

… and some models take the last few minutes to touch-up their faces before running out.

One last swipe of moisturizer for the road.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

The looks have gone back on hangers and those wearing black are placing them all in garment bags. “Everything has to be showroom ready, everyone!” one of them announces.

A third-party company will come to collect all the runway samples and take them back to the showroom.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

Hanako has been working on this nautical-inspired collection for six months, and just like that in less than four hours, the show is done. Thirty-two models, two grooming teams, a styling team, one PR agency, and countless extra hands — that’s what it takes to get Hanako Maeda’s 35-look collection down the runway.

It takes a village.

Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

More:

Features
Visual Slideshow
Fashion
NYFW

Chevron icon
It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.


Close icon
Two crossed lines that form an ‘X’. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification.



Check mark icon
A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction.



Read More