This year, I was invited backstage before the doors open the night of Runway 27’s Cinematic show. I saw a party of preparation and preening; running around in heels, models being fitted. Everyone knew what they were doing and where they were going, which is more than can be said about some NYFW I’ve volunteered behind-the-scenes for. This year’s theme was a love letter to cinema and its many genres and looks; the backdrop of the runway was ‘post no bills’ scaffolding littered with movie posters: Star Wars, Pretty Woman, Roman Holiday, The Goonies. Rehearsals were easy, the walks practiced without missteps in six-inch heels to a remix of Darth Vader’s Imperial March.
When the auditorium had been filled to sold-out, standing-only capacity, the show began to Tayler Swift’s Are You Ready For It? A model in a spiky black dress opened the show to the open-mouthed wonder, gasps and ‘yas queens!’ of the crowd. As the show progressed, we saw a catsuit, leotards, velvets, sheers, hoods, a one-shouldered black gown that everyone collectively cheered for and the “no-shirt jacket” look. In the following segment, there were white ruffles, silk pastels, slinky dresses and fur vests over lingerie; then sequins, intergalactic and futuristic gear, metallics, technogenesis, sharp lines and shine. In the ending finale, we saw reds and classic femme fatale gowns.
“We’ve been planning this show since last February,” Erin Stief, Runway 27 president and longtime member, told me. “When people think of fashion, they obviously think of shows and designs, but not so often do they think about all the preparation and hard work that it takes to make a beautiful show happen.”
So how is such a big show produced? “We have everyone break up into committees based on what they are interested in,” Erin explained. First up is the merchandising committee. “[They] reach out to companies and designers within the industry to visit showrooms and collect looks that will go down our runway. This team curates so many different looks from athletic wear, lingerie to formal, evening wear and styles them based on our theme!” Then there’s the production committee, who “bring [the] theme to life with lights, music, set and more.” The PR committee, tasked with doing promotion on social media and selling tickets also put together swag bags and the VIP list.
“These students have the power to cast models, style thousand-dollar gowns, control music, lights and the stage, create content for social media, interact with sponsors, and see all of their hard work come together in a show they have produced,” said Erin, before conveying how proud she was of everyone’s hard work, effort and energy.
A professional-level runway show, Runway 27’s annual November productions are easily one of the best FIT events of the year.