How to...produce a catwalk show at London Fashion Week

As sartorial activity grips London across London Fashion Weekend (25-28 February), we speak to Carolyn Dickson, producer at Inca, about how the agency staged Temperley's catwalk show at London Fashion Week.

The Temperley AW16 show was held at Lindley Hall near Victoria
The Temperley AW16 show was held at Lindley Hall near Victoria

Choosing a venue for Temperley this season was challenging as there were constant changes to the schedule - we started discussing venues in December ahead of the event on 21 February. We consider the location of other shows within the schedule to ensure the best chance of important press and buyers being able to make it. Though this was key for us, we also needed to be able to realise the designer’s creative within the space and for it to be affordable within the budget. This season Lindley Hall ticked all those boxes.

By the time we had locked in the venue, we had quite a short lead time for creative. Alice [Temperley] had a very strong direction. With the help of one of our amazing set designers, Stuart Nunn, we designed the backdrop and ship masts [for the pirate/nautical theme]. The enormity of the ship masts, and watching them come together, was the highlight of the show for me.

Is the backstage life as hectic as you imagine it be? Absolutely! While we do our best to organise behind-the-scenes to keep it calm, often there are up to 60 people all jostling to do their jobs. Casting trying to line up models, hair and make-up artists trying to do final touch-ups, styling checking each outfit, photographers trying to get the best backstage shots for their can be crazy.

There isn’t much difference between staging a fashion show and creating a brand experience - a fashion show is a brand experience, just very concentrated. The moment the press, buyers and guests set foot in the venue they need to be immersed in the Temperley London world.

It is crucial that the show looks right and enables photographers to shoot the product in the best possible way, but it is equally important to have the right walk-in set-up so that people get into the right frame of mind. This season more than ever we had to make people who had watched the [Inca-produced] Anya Hindmarch show, six hours before, feel they were coming into a completely different space, which we did.

The success of a show is different for a designer or brand than it is to a production company. A designer quantifies this in the amount of positive press and social media coverage, which will ultimately translate into sales. For a production company, success is a happy designer! It is all about realising the designer’s vision and it executing it seamlessly.

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