We all know how crazy the Fashion Month schedule is for editors — the jet-setting, late night deadlines, and gallons of coffee — but what’s it like for models just starting out in the industry?
Josephine Skriver, signed with The Society Management and now in her seventh season, is a seasoned runway pro. But way back in the Fall/Winter 2011 season (which in fashion time is, like, forever ago), she was just a newbie trying to earn her stripes.
She walked a crazy-sounding 54 runways in total that season — earning the model honors of opening two and closing three — so we thought we’d get her take on how it felt to be the new girl in the fashion circus. (How professional has she become since then? Well, she answered these questions for us via email while running around castings, so she’s clearly got it down pat.)
Here, get Skriver’s take on making model friends, being a human pincushion, and why those twenty seconds on the runway make all the insanity totally worth it.
Fashionista: What did your first Fashion Month feel like?
Skriver: Honestly, looking back I had no idea what I was about to get myself into when I tried out for my first fashion season. Even though all your agents explain to you how the entire thing works, you can’t completely understand it until you feel and experience it for yourself.
Of course I was super nervous about how things would turn out for me. Would they like me? Would I learn how to walk perfectly before the whole thing began (I had never been in high heels until just a few months before)? Would I even confirm any shows at all? There were hundreds of questions like that going through my head! I was really excited, too, of course, because it was my first big international modeling experience.
When the whole thing began and it turned out that I was doing pretty well, it was truly the best feeling. I had so, so much fun. But when it was all over and I looked back, I was kind of surprised I even survived the whole ordeal. After all, the fashion show circus runs on this insane, non-stop schedule for almost two months. Even though I was completely exhausted after, I was the happiest girl. I had the most intense, crazy, upside-down and amazing experience that I never thought could happen to me. All in all, I was super grateful.
What mistakes did you make in your first few fashion cycles that you’ve learned from?
My biggest mistake during my first season was probably stressing way too much. I hated being late or missing anything because it made me feel like I didn’t respect other people’s work. However, as the days went on I realized there was truly no way you could make all your appointments perfectly on time when everything became hectic — and it’s the same for everyone! You learn that we are all doing our best, and while people often wait for us, we often wait for others, too. Still though, we should always respect the calltimes we’re given as much as we can.
Another mistake is the lack of food throughout the day. You don’t realize how little time you have to go find food, and how often some backstages have nothing catered…so now, I’m always very snack-prepared during fashion month.
What have you learned that helps you prep better for Fashion Month now?
The overall experience has been an education! I have a totally clear understanding of how the whole fiasco works now, so nothing really surprises me anymore.
Knowing what to expect is a really fantastic feeling — I know exactly what to bring in my bag to make my life ten times easier when the shows start. And then just the great relationship you have developed with other people in the business that make the whole thing ten times more fun. It’s also wonderful to meet everyone again and catch up from last season.
What are the best and worst parts of Fashion Week?
I love hanging out backstage with all my girls and just having fun. Reuniting with old friends (and meeting new ones) is probably the best part about the whole thing. During the year, we’re so spread out all over the world doing different work, so sometimes it’s pretty difficult to meet up properly. But during the shows almost everyone is back together, so there is that fun feeling, like we’re all back in fashion bootcamp again.
Also, the general feeling of being on the catwalk: Even though it’s only really 20 seconds most of the time, I feel really alive during it.
My least favorite part is probably that I don’t have a say over my look for about a month, because everyone else has to do their job, you get multiple changes of hair, make-up, and of course clothes every single day. During fittings, people can dress you up-and-down a dozen times, and sometimes they might even sew the clothes while they’re still on you, which in turn makes you feel like a human pin cushion — even if everyone’s careful enough to not actually pierce your skin.
What are your essentials during Fashion Week?
1) My iPhone — the one thing that tells me what to do at all times! It’s my method of contact with my agents, and it’s my entertainment when I have to wait for hours. I cannot live without this gadget!
2) Snacks — Everything becomes easier to handle if you make sure to stay fueled throughout the day.
3) Makeup remover and a hairbrush — so we can look somewhat normal after shows, especially when you have to go back to castings.
4) My headphones — so I can zone out between appointments and just immerse in my music when I walk around.
What’s your advice for new models backstage?
Besides what I mentioned before about always having your phone and snacks for energy, I would also advise them to not take everything too seriously — not to be irresponsible because this is a job for all of us, but just to relax. They should remember to have fun and enjoy the moment, even when it all seems very overwhelming. Also, show respect to the people you work with, because these designers have been working their butts off for months on the collections to have them all shown in just 15 minutes or less. So be strong and don’t complain. We’re all in the same boat with the same goal: To make this the best show possible!
How do you feel about Fashion Week now that you’re a seasoned pro?
I still get nervous and super excited before a new season starts, because you never really know what shows you will book, and more importantly what trends you are going to help define! It’s a bit like playing the lottery every time.
On the other hand, I’m way more relaxed and having a lot more fun with it, because I know almost everyone backstage by now, and I can continue to build many friendships.
What do you wish you had known starting out that you know now?
I wish I had known a lot more about fashion as a whole and also all the creative people involved in the business when I started. Trying to memorize all of it in the beginning was pretty difficult, but with this being my seventh season already, it’s no longer an issue. Make sure to study those names and their portfolios of work, everyone!