The fashion shows at Fashion Week look like perfectly orchestrated events from the audience, but there's a whole lot of work that goes into coordinating a perfectly planned runway show. A big part of this fashion show perfection is thanks to the volunteers who work the front of house.
If you've ever gone to a fashion show and watched people in all-black ushering guests into a show -- or turning them away as the situation sometimes dictates -- then you're familiar with a bit of what a front of house worker does. Their first contact with show guests usually deals with taking invites and either allowing people through or turning them away if they don't have a ticket to the show.
There's tons of work that goes into planning a runway show well before it starts. Front of house is responsible for making sure that everything inside the venue is set. This can include putting together gift bags and placing them on seats and also generally includes leaving one run of show at each seat. The run of show outlines each look that comes down the runway, including details of each piece, and usually contains a paragraph or two in which the designer explains their inspiration behind that season's collection. Guests use this to help them to access each look that comes down the runway and to feel the cohesiveness of that particular designer's collection.
Once the Action Starts
Guests are generally allowed into venues based on perceived importance. If you're invited to a runway show, you will either be assigned a seat, or you'll receive a standing room ticket. Guests who are assigned seats are let into the venue and seated immediately. Standing room guests will generally wait outside the venue until all other guests are seated. Front of house workers open doors to seated guests, then after a time, allow standing room guests in as well. A few minutes before showtime, front of house workers will announce that standing room guests may now fill in any empty seats and will help to escort attendees to a place to sit.
Immediately before a show starts, front of house workers will clear the runway. Every runway has a plastic covering which is meant to keep it clean before the show. When front of house removes the plastic covering, you know it's showtime. At this time, front of house makes sure everyone is seated. The lights dim, the music blares, the first model struts down the runway, and the show is officially in full swing.