Fashion Week Backstage: Dressing Models for Doo-Ri Chung’s Show

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This year I was fortunate enough to be asked to help out dressing models at Doo-Ri Chung’s Spring 2011 show in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 2010. The show was not held at Bryant Park, but instead the venue was a trendy art gallery in Chelsea called Eyebeam Gallery. I had done the dressing for the same show a year before so I wasn’t as nervous as I was this time last year. When I got there, everyone was fussing over hair and makeup. Only two of the models had arrived on time, so we dressers were herded into a corner until they had something for us to do. Right when we had run out of worthless things to make small talk over, we were told to bring out the rolling racks. There was about 8 of us dressing 19 models. We were assigned garments bags filled with the models “look”, or in some cases multiple “looks”. If you have a model with two looks, then you have about 30 seconds in between their walks to get them completely into another outfit and, in some cases, different shoes. It is one of the most stressful things, as you can imagine.

As the models started to filter in, we were assigned to the girls we would be dressing. I was assigned two models with single looks. We took the garment bags off and got the clothes prêt-a-porter (ready to wear). The show was originally supposed to start at 4 p.m., but due to some fashion traffic jams, all previous shows ended late, causing ours to be delayed. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because now I had more time to abuse the most under-appreciated part of fashion shows: the snack table. If there is ever an event with refreshments served, I’m there quicker than you can say ‘cubes of cheese.’ I’ll admit it’s a bit embarrassing carrying around the most densely packed small plastic plate, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. After one other brave snack-eating dresser and I had had our fill of fruits, cheeses and Whole Foods mini-sandwiches, we were told  with a look of disgust to please wash our hands and then report back to our garment bags. The models were made-up and ready to go…and so were the people in the chairs out by the runway.

With ten minutes until go time, the models found the clothes that they had been fitted for. I had two models: one was sweet with light blond hair and quiet serenity about her. I loved her. The clothes fit great, she didn’t complain about it being too hot or too cold, or that she was tired, or about how much she just wanted a cigarette. She was an angel of a model. The other one, however, was not so serene. I was hurting her, she said. She could do it herself, she said. Really? Well then why do they bring in dressers just to dress you? Because you can't just do it yourself. Dressing, however unpaid it may be, is a very tricky job and requires excellent negotiation skills — especially if you have a fussy model. If any makeup gets on the clothes, it’s straight to the guillotine for both the model and the dresser. Was I willing to sacrifice my two-hour unpaid gig for one model’s happiness? Absolutely not. So because all scars, blemishes, discolorations and faces are covered by heaps of makeup, you have to put a silk scarf around their head, covering their face. I can understand this being frustrating, being told what to do as a full grown adult, but being a muse has its cons. Sorry, models. After they were dressed and ready to go, they lined up and walked out one by one.
Throughout the show, there was only one slip-up: as the models stepped in tune to David Bowie’s “Sound and Vision,” the sound cut off completely for a solid six seconds, leaving everyone backstage silent and with jaws dropped. Luckily, the camera crew came prepared for this disaster and whistled David’s tune until the music cut back on. And the models didn’t miss a beat!

Before we knew it, the show was over. All in all, a great show! The pieces were very elegant, full of artfully draped silky tops with matching bloomer shorts and blazers, cream colored suits, and adorable yet edgy sundresses. Doo-Ri’s pieces in this show are similar to that of the pieces that she chooses to adorn herself: business classic meets sexy casual. After seeing what Doo-Ri has to offer for the upcoming Spring 2011, I’m sure I’m not the only one biting at the bit to see her Fall 2011 collection. Well done, Doo-Ri Chung and congratulations to all involved!