Fashion Show Rules & Etiquette

January 25, 2010 by

In just a few weeks, New York Fashion Week will kick off, followed by London, Milan and Paris. If you’re an old-hand at fashion week, you’ve probably seen some improper behavior. Likewise, if you’re only ever dreamed of attending a fashion show, you’ve probably wondered what the rules of etiquette are.  We decided to ask two fashion industry insiders their thoughts on fashion show rules and etiquette. Our experts:

Meet Eboyne Jackson: Eboyne is the fashion editor of DAM Magazine and a blogger for AOL black voices. Eboyne has been attending the New York shows for years and counts Tracy Reese, Christian Siriano and Yigal Azrouel among her favorite shows.

Meet Jene Luciane: Jene is a New York-based style expert who has been seen on Better TV and the Style Network. She is the author of the Bra Book and has produced fashion show coverage for CNN. She regularly attends the New York shows and has interviewed everyone from Madonna to Michael Kors to Tory Burch, to name a few.

1. What are the general rules when it comes to attending a Fashion Week show?

Eboyne: Rule #1: Always come to New York Fashion Week comfortable in your own skin and fierce! You can never go wrong looking like a million dollar bill, serving major face! Rule #2: Unless you are rolling with the A-list press (the ones who breeze past the PR with the clipboard-mafia and avoid waiting in long lines to enter the show), I suggest you wear fashionably flat shoes. Shoes that won’t leave blisters on your feet as the lines are long and ruthless, yet welcoming once you step inside the tents! Rule #3: Always bring your credentials with you and/or an email/invitation that proves your clearance into the shows. This is most crucial, because you won’t be allowed in the tents unless you have some form of ID/proof. A smiling face doesn’t get you in, unless you are great at weaseling your way through top-notch security! Rule #4: Be prepared to stand during shows unless you have a seating arrangement. Standing means way back, peeping over the tall guy with the big head to get a glimpse of the runway! Be advised; standing room requires you to arrive in the waiting line early! Arriving late could forfeit your chances of even entering the show, as it is first come, first served (although PR will NOT tell you that; they assume you will be smart enough to figure it out.)

Jene: Basically, you have to request a ticket to the show with each individual designer’s PR/Event team. If your request is approved, you will be mailed or emailed a ticket. You will then be called a day or 2 before with your seating assignment IF YOU HAVE ONE (most of the time, it is “standing room” as seats are reserved for major buyers, press and celebrities). You can’t show up to the show without a ticket or you will not get in. I always tell people the best thing you can do is act like you are someone important, keep your head held high and show your ticket. If you are standing room and do not have a seat, you can always try and grab a seat when you get into the venue. Don’t try to be belligerent with the people at the sign-in table and demand access and certainly don’t try and “storm the gates.” There is TONS of security everywhere and gatecrashers will not get past them.

2. What is the “rule” when it comes to finding a seat? Are the seats assigned?

Eboyne: In most cases, yes. Seats are usually assigned. The designer’s PR will inform you of a seating arrangement option prior to show. If you do not receive one, then more than likely that means your seat is “standing room only.”

Jene: For the most part, seats are assigned. However a lot of people don’t show up, so get a ticket, get in as “standing room,” and then when the lights start to dim, grab an empty seat.

3. What should you do if you arrive late?

Eboyne: In most cases if you arrive late to a show, and if it is already underway, you are not even allowed admittance into the show. Instead, you can opt for a live view of the show outside the tents on the flat screen TV, which, in most cases, defeats the very purpose for coming to attend the show.

Jene: The shows run an average of 30-45 minutes late so if you are late, then you are getting there on time. The show only lasts about 15 minutes so most of your time is spent waiting! If you arrive after the show starts, as long as you have a ticket with a seating assignment you can usually walk right in. However often if the doors are closed, the security might turn you away (unless you are somebody important) and you can watch from the monitor in the lobby. If you have a ticket and need to be checked in for “standing room,” don’t bother as you won’t be let in.

4. There are always pictures of people talking and texting during the shows. What is the rule of thumb when it comes to being disruptive?

Eboyne: Talking during shows is kept to a “hushed” minimum. In most cases, people will side-glance each other to show their disdain or approval, and whisper to each other, but for the most part, talking is kept at a bare minimum. Most people are so engaged in the show, and are trying not to miss a single beat. If people are texting, they are most likely trying to be the first to “Twitpic” the latest hot dud straight off the runway!

Jene: It’s not disruptive. Usually the people who are texting are sending notes back to their editors or bosses – you will even see the bloggers working on laptops during the show so as to be the first one to post news from that particular show. It’s not considered disruptive, in fact, designers LOVE getting instant attention to their shows. That’s why big bloggers always have a seat! When people are talking, generally they are discussing what they are seeing.

5. Do you have any horror stories you can share?

Eboyne: None to date; check back with me next year!

Jene: Standing in line for an hour only to be told the show was at capacity and no one else was being allowed in!

6. Do you have any good stories to share?

Eboyne: Good stories, yes! Exiting Tracy Reese’s show only to collide with Keri Hilson; walking down Seventh Avenue, side by side with Amerie after Tracy’s show; and chilling with Toni Francesc backstage.

Jene: They are all good!! I have been fortunate enough to interview dozens of the biggest celebrities and designers in the world and have access to them in a casual setting such as fashion week. Last year, I hung out with Ellen Pompeo and her husband for a while after one of the shows and we gabbed about normal, everyday things! I also get to see the trends as they are happening, before they even hit store racks!!! It’s where the magic happens!

7. Any last words/advice for Mama’s A Rolling Stone readers?

Eboyne: Be fabulous and most importantly, be yourself and don’t get caught up in social status. Fashion is for everyone so let your hair down and just have fun experiencing a week-long delight of high-fashion!

Jene: Do your research before you request seats to a show and be sure to be very descriptive of why you should be invited and what your purpose for being there is. Also be sure to dress your best; you might get photographed! One year, I was photographed in the front row of one of the shows and in the lobby for Vogue China.