Styling Justin Cassin’s Runway
What’s it like to style a big fashion runway at MBFWA? Runway stylist Jamie Azzopardi kept a diary of how his day unfolded in preparation for styling Justin Cassin‘s runway show at MBFWA. Here’s how it is for a runway stylist on the big day. Photography by Jayden Ostwald unless otherwise stated.
7:00am – I wake up in the Alfred hotel after a long night of working on last minute changes with my photographer, Jayden. After showering and getting myself ready for the day, we pack all the last minute necessities. We head out for a walk to breakfast. I’m hoping that the walk will calm my nerves.
8:00am – We head to breakfast but in true Sydney style there isn’t a seat available anywhere until we reach the Hoochie Mama Cafe which makes room for us. Friends and co-workers pop by to wish me luck and offer advice. I begin to feel the nerves kick in. I get through the last of the morning emails and work that needs to be completed.
9:30am – We walk back to the hotel where we are joined by friend and fellow influencer (not to mention stylish man) Steve Tillbrook, who has just flown in from Adelaide to be at the show. Steve assures me that today is going to run smoothly and I have this in the bag.
10:30am – Pack our bags, do a final check and we are on our way to Carriageworks.
11:30am – We arrive at Carriageworks and the models and I go into a huddle to get ready for the day. We check in at reception, receive our passes and proceed to our backstage area.
12:00pm -The models go into hair and makeup while I separate their looks onto racks. Go through a final check, giving each item taken to a dresser to steam ready for the show.
1:00pm – A full rehearsal with dancers is walked through and tension begins to build behind the scenes. The show is ready to be put on and now it’s time to perform! I check off the last of the “to do’s” and make sure all is ready and right for the show.
1:30pm – The dressers and I go through final looks, change a few around and agree upon the final order of the show.2:00pm – Press interviews begin with Justin and me and as they begin to ask questions, the realisation hits me that the show is now only two hours away.
2:15pm – Shoes arrive and the heels and soles are taped by the dressers.
2:30pm – International and local press including photographers and other media take their positions backstage for a first look at what this year’s show will give them. Many seem pleased but it’s hard to read as I’m answering a few quick questions. I know they’ve already made their minds up on what they’re going to write.
3:00pm – Guests start to arrive. Models are taken for photos. More rehearsals are being done and the energy backstage has reached its pinnacle. I’m all nerves by now, but surrounded by people who are eager to see me succeed.
3:20pm – The guests start to take their seats out front while out back the models are dressed and lined up in their first looks. The dressers are ready to change the respective models should they need to.
3:40pm – I have a ritual speech I give whenever I do a big show or shoot:
“Guys, I stand here today grateful for the job I have been given. It’s truly an honour to work with each of you. For those of you who know me well or have worked with me before you’ll know I give this speech as a thank you to everyone of you who made this dream possible. I lost my parents when I was quite young and for a long time I wasn’t sure that I’d make it. But I found fashion and a new family in each one of you. So as you stand here today I want to say thank you for joining my fashion family. And if nothing else, go out there and kill it for everyone who ever told you you couldn’t because today you can!”
Everyone in the backstage huddle cheers my speech. I begin to tear up and have to break away from the group hug before taking my place and preparing to ready the show.
4:00pm – The last of the guests are seated. We are counted in to the opening with the dancers. A euphoric feeling comes over me and the show is about to begin.
4:05pm – Josh, the first model takes to the stage. The others follow in increments of 20-30 seconds. I can hear the crowd cheering. My nerves start to subside and I switch from nervous to work mode and press auto-pilot without even thinking.4:15pm – 8 of the 31 models are ready to take to the stage in the first ever swimwear Justin has created. Kept quiet from the media, this is the first time anyone is seeing his secret project. I am so excited for the world to see it.
4:20pm – The models take their last walk in the finalé before Justin graces the stage. As the team walk backstage, we all share tears and hugs, celebrating because we know that what we’ve just accomplished together will go down as a crowd favourite.
I’ve now lost track of time.We pack up and get ready for the after party. Making our way out into the crowd we are bombarded with people telling us just how much they liked the show, how well we did and what their favourite looks were. I’m on Cloud 9, or even 10 or 11 or more! The highs and lows of the day have been a roller coaster journey I’d do everyday for the rest of my life if I was allowed to. Being a runway stylist is an experience unlike any other. I can’t put into words how its feels to transform what feels like complete chaos into the perfect show in what seems like seconds. It’s all over too soon!