Fashion weeks are an exciting time for any fashionista, and Cardiff fashion week promised to be just that. Although smaller scale event to the more known London, New York, Paris, Milan fashion weeks, its locality
offered something special and unique to those who live and work in Cardiff, showcasing not only major brands and designers but local boutiques and outlets.
CFW, could not have been more exciting however for those lucky students chosen to volunteer behind the scenes and experience what it is really like to work in the world of fashion.
Charlotte Bellham, is one such lucky lady, and has agreed to tell me about her day as a ‘runner’.
Name? Charlotte Bellham
Where do you study and what course? University of South Wales, Fashion Promotion Yr. 1
How did you become involved in CFW? The volunteering positions were offered to my course, but there was only 8 places so it was first come first serve.
Run me through your schedule that day?
I had to wake up at 6am to be at the Hilton hotel for 7:45am, briefing at 8am by Sarah Lewis the events manager and Wanda the head stylist; put together goodie bags for VIP guests, get models into hair and makeup, set up rails of clothes ready for the first show at 12pm. There were 5 shows throughout the day that last around 45 minutes containing clothes from major and boutique retailers in Cardiff and then we finished at 8pm. Of course then there was the VIP after show party @ Soda which was good fun as although tired we were still on a high from the day and didn’t want to stop!
What specifically were your tasks?
Each runner was assigned a round of clothing, I was in charge of the Calvin Klein, male underwear/loungewear part of the show and had to make sure the models were dressed and accessorized correctly all in time for each round. I had about 4 or 5 models and we only had 3 or 4 minutes to get them undressed and changed ready for the next round, and there was 12 rounds per show. So it was hectic!
What designers were you working for on the day?
Make-up was done by ELF, clothes modeled for Calvin Klein, River Island, Armani Exchange, M&S, Primark, New Look, Cwtchy Cwtchy and John Lewis, so a good mix of designer and high street brands.
What was it like to work back-stage?
Tiring! But exciting. It was a non-stop day, with no time to barely eat or sit-down. Being a catwalk runner definitely keeps you fit! I reckon I walked up and down numerous flights of stairs at least 40 times that day! It was a great experience of what working in fashion actually feels like, a lot of hard work not just glamour!
What was the most exciting part of your day?
Most exciting part of the day was getting briefed at 8am on what we’d be expected to do throughout the day, everyone was terrified as we had no idea what the day would be like but we had to take it in our stride and do the best we could do, so it was also the most nerve wracking part as you had to make sure you were spot on with everything you did. Timing was crucial!
What were the models and other people like to work with?
Most models were polite and really down to earth as most of them were former Miss Wales, Miss Cardiff etc. Also models know that runners are there to help them look and feel good as well as to get them organized so are pretty nice to you! They also used all sized models (size 6-16) which was surprising but refreshing. It is being seen more and more now on catwalks across the world and really gives fashion a more positive image.
How has your experience shaped your view of the industry?
It has given me an insight into the hard work that has to be put in to work your way to the top. And shown me that, the higher up you get the more hard work you have to put it! Fashion is also the second biggest employer in the world so it is definitely a good industry to be getting into!
How has the experience inspired you?
It’s made me think about what aspect of the industry I want to go into, but it’s made me want to go into it even more, the experience was invaluable.
After the day – what type of fashion career are you working towards?
I’m more swayed towards the styling aspect of the fashion industry as I loved watching Wanda (head stylist) put together the looks and swap and change things as she saw fit. You don’t have to answer to anyone once you’re employed to do a job/show/shoot and can let your creativity take over.
What would you say to those other fashion lovers who want to go into the industry or are thinking about volunteering next year?
The job certainly isn’t for the faint hearted and you need stamina and some caffeine to get through any day in the industry. I would definitely do it again, but I would like to gain experience in some of the bigger fashion shows now to see how it differs from smaller shows and to be able to understand the industry even more.
What is next on the cards for you?
I’d say just learning as much as possible through my course and just take advantage of all the opportunities offered to us. We are going to New York in February for fashion week, so I’m definitely going to try and blag my way in back stage (we’ve been told turning up at 6am, all in black, big sunnies, Starbucks in hand and being all ‘British’ may just get us in – so fingers crossed!).