Here's what it takes to plan a New York Fashion Week show in 5 days, from creating the runway soundtrack to casting models and testing hairstyles

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderHair, makeup, styling, and music all happen at the same time.
  • Hanako Maeda, fashion designer at the brand ADEAM, showed her Spring/Summer 2020 collection during New York Fashion Week (NYFW) this September.
  • While the collection took around six months to pull together, the logistics of this runway show took around five days from start to finish.
  • We spent some pre-show time with the ADEAM team and talked with them about everything that went on in the five days leading up to and including the show this September.
  • Maeda had her core team, but she also employed stylist Ada Kokosar, casting director Barbara Nicoli, hairdresser Laurent Philippon, and makeup artist Sada Ito to help her get the job done and turn runway models into “creatures that live in the sea… ethereal and beautiful,” she said.
  • Even though the actual show only lasts around 10 minutes, Maeda told Insider it’s important to her that people understand how much work goes into creating a collection: “It seems glamorous … but every designer and team puts so much care and effort into creating a new collection. For a designer, it’s like raising a child or having a baby.”
  • Here’s the day-by-day breakdown of what it takes to pull off a NYFW show.
  • Visit Insider’s Homepage for more stories.


With four days to go until the ADEAM Spring/Summer 2020 runway show in New York, the team had a lot that still needed to be done.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderDesigner Hanako Maeda (second from right) with team members.

Hanako Maeda, designer and founder at ADEAM, had been working on her collection for six months and the whole thing came together at what was her 11th runway show.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderHanako Maeda pictured above behind the scenes at her Spring/Summer 2020 runway show.

Maeda told Insider that with each collection, she starts gathering images that represent her vision — which always has some sort of cultural reference behind it — months in advance. This season, the vision was formed around the East-meets-West idea that the Port of Yokohama — her parent’s hometown in Japan — perpetuates in her mind.

Courtesy of ADEAMMaeda’s inspiration board with photos and fabric swatches.

Every designer has their own process when it comes to creating collections. For Maeda, the next step after she collects all of her inspiration is to start sketching her designs.

Courtesy of ADEAMMaeda sketches ideas before she even gets to fabric choice.

From there she picks fabrics, drapes over mannequins, and works with pattern makers to create the foundation of her clothing. But all of this happens in the months leading up to September.

Courtesy of ADEAMShe had a couple of different anchor colours in the collection, but this plaid was one of the main patterns used.

When New York Fashion Week finally arrived, Maeda and her team kicked into gear and started on the logistics of planning a fashion show. That began with trying the clothes on a fit model.

Courtesy of ADEAMThe ADEAM team takes measurements of the clothes on Tuesday.

The team took measurements of the samples and noted the sizing on the fit model as a reference point for when they cast the rest of the women.

Courtesy of ADEAMHaving precise measurements helps them gauge what garment would match up with which model based on her measurements.

When choosing a fit model, Maeda said it’s important that the woman has a good attitude. Days can go long so staying patient and positive is a must. She said this season’s fit model was amazing — she even gave Maeda input on the clothes.

Courtesy of ADEAMHanako likes for the clothing to be a collaborative effort, so hearing from models is important to her.

This season’s fit model was Öykü Bastas — she walked the runway in one of the ADEAM gowns.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderÖykü Bastas, fit model, pictured above on show day.

It’s important to Maeda that the clothes look great on people of all shapes and sizes. So part of the process on Tuesday is to have different people who work at the brand try on the clothes.

Courtesy of ADEAMADEAM team members of all shapes and sizes try the clothes on during this time.

The team calls this process a “sample check” — they take notes on how the clothes fit people of different measurements for production purposes. Team members took notes on the tags seen here, which then got tied around the hangers.

Courtesy of ADEAMThe sample check lasted from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

The runway samples that they worked with were garments that were made in one of two locations: the ADEAM production factory in Japan or the studio in Chelsea, Manhattan.

Courtesy of ADEAMThe team went through samples that have just come in.

The ADEAM team extends past New York to Tokyo. Some of the Tokyo-based employees flew in for the show and to talk through production specifications — Maeda told Insider that they try to have everything with production squared away before the show so they can sell clothes to buyers as soon after the show as possible.

Courtesy of ADEAMTo kick off the week, the New York and Tokyo teams went for a celebratory welcome dinner.

At three days out, Maeda started to cast her models with the help of casting director Barbara Nicoli. The designer said diversity is important to her and she aims to “capture different kinds of beauty.”

Courtesy of ADEAMMaeda looks through head shots and starts to decide on who she wants to walk in her show and represent her clothing.

She told Insider she likes to represent women from all over the world but also makes a special effort to support young women from Japan.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderShe chose Yuka Mannami, a Japanese model, to open her show this season.

Maeda has been working with Nicoli for three years and she loves the nurturing quality the casting director brings to her job. The designer told Insider that Nicoli is a mother, and she thinks that those values of hers carry through to the young women who may be walking in a show for the first time.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderNicoli (right) going over the casting lineup.

Wednesday was also the day for Maeda to go over the seating chart for her show. She said her number one concern is that everyone feels comfortable in their seat because “Coming to a fashion show can be really crazy,” especially for those attending a handful per day.

Courtesy of ADEAMA team of publicists brings the seating chart to Maeda’s showroom so she can approve the chart.

This was also the first time stylist Ada Kokosar saw the collection in person. She was in charge of putting together each full look — clothing and accessories — that was sent down the runway.

Courtesy of ADEAMAda Kokosar (left) and Maeda (right) talk through the collection.

Maeda told Insider she has been working with Kokosar for around three years now, so she completely trusts her with the collection. She said Kokosar shares a similar taste in art, which gives them common ground when it comes to styling.

Courtesy of ADEAMKokosar (second from left) and Maeda (second from right) talk with a member of team ADEAM.

Styling continued into Thursday. Maeda said it’s important for her and Kokosar to take a break, come back the next day with fresh eyes, and take another look at everything they put together.

Courtesy of ADEAMKokosar and Maeda watch a model try out a test look.

Maeda explained that not every piece from the collection makes it onto the runway, so the styling process is filled with a lot of trial and editing.

Courtesy of ADEAMSome accessories and basics don’t make it to the runway, but they do make it to production.

As Maeda and Kokosar go through all of the looks, they think about the order in which the looks will be sent down the runway. Looks get numbered and paired with models.

Courtesy of ADEAMPieces of the collection are grouped together by look number.

The team started to build something called a look board on Thursday. They printed out every look that they wanted to send down the runway and pinned them to a board in order — they use different stickers as indicators of complete and incomplete looks.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderThe original board from Thursday (left) and the revised board (right).

Maeda told Insider that it’s like a puzzle when it comes to pairing shoes with each look because of the limited number of each size and colour they have on-hand.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderNotes on the wall indicated which shoes were available in which sizes.

Notes on the look board indicate which shoes Maeda and Kokosar hoped would go with each look, but they couldn’t finalise that until the model lineup was confirmed.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderA sticker indicated Kokosar and Maeda wanted a tan-coloured shoe to go with Look 16.

Also on Thursday, Maeda met with the music team, Mode-F, for the first time. She sent the sound illustrators examples of music she liked in advance, and the team came to her studio two days before the show to talk it through.

Courtesy of ADEAMMaeda and a Mode-F team member discuss the soundtrack.

After the meeting, Maeda gave the Mode-F team notes, suggested adding some more natural beach noises — like seagulls, beach winds, and water in the background — and moved onto the next task at hand.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderShe listens to make sure the music captures the mood of her collection.

The ADEAM team worked tirelessly from Tuesday through Thursday, and Friday was no different. It was the day before the show and there were still a lot of confirmations that had to be made — particularly with casting.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderNicoli lead the casting team, pictured above.

Models who had been called back to the studio for a final confirmation sat by the door and waited their turn to try on looks …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderModels wait patiently — some for hours — to be seen again.

… while fully confirmed models went through hair and makeup testing.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderMarie-Louise Wedel Nielsen gets her hair done.

Laurent Philippon — the lead hairdresser — worked with his small team to try and make Maeda’s vision come to life.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderThis was the second season the two spent working together and Maeda said it’s an easy working relationship.

He used blow dryers, heated irons, and product to get the models’ hair looking “naturally wavy” — Maeda wanted a look that mimicked a mythical sea creature but that was also “clean and fresh” at the same time.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderThe full line-up.

He was quick to correct us when we asked him about the beach waves we were seeing — “Did you just say beach waves? … Those are the other coast.”

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderThere are no ‘beach waves’ in New York City, according to Philippon.

Next to Philippon’s hair setup was Sada Ito — lead makeup artist — and his beauty station.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderSada Ito (left) tested makeup looks.

Ito and Maeda have been working together for around three years now. The designer told Insider that she sent Ito some inspiration photos and gave him an idea of what kind of look she was going for before he got to the studio.

Courtesy of ADEAMSome of Maeda’s inspiration images for this season.

He spent some time trying out a few different versions of the clean, ethereal, by-the-sea look Maeda was going for …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderHe takes great care when curling eyelashes.

… and talked with the designer to make sure it was perfect. They decided to add two gems at the corners of the models’ eyes to mimic water droplets …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderEach model had the same eye gems.

… along with a soft, neutral-coloured lip that created a barely-there effect.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderClean and simple.

As of Friday afternoon, there were 26 women who were walking in the ADEAM show on Saturday. That meant there were nine women who were going to have to change mid-show and wear two looks.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderA model waited for her turn in the hairdressing chair.

But after going through show logistics, the team figured out there wasn’t enough time for all of those changes.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderCompletely styled looks hang numbered on a rack.

Maeda told Insider that Nicoli called models who had been considered for the show — but not confirmed — and got six more models by the next morning. Only three models had to change on show day — crisis averted.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderKokosar (right) and an ADEAM team member (left) look over the styling board.

With Nicoli tackling casting …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderA model walks for Maeda, Kokosar, and Nicoli in her confirmed look.

… Kokosar finalising styling …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderShe made lots of last-minute tweaks.

… Philippon on hair …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderIt’s work, but it’s still fun!

… and Ito on makeup …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderIto is an artist.

… the only thing left for Maeda to do on Friday was finalise the music — which she did with the help of her team.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderEveryone listened and gave their opinions.

On Saturday, Maeda woke up for her 11th runway show to date. She told Insider that food is an important part of her family — as it’s an important part of Japanese culture — so she started show day with a hearty breakfast of rice, protein, and vegetables.

Courtesy of ADEAMOther days during the week leading up to the show, she started the day with eggs, yogurt, and fresh mango pictured above.

She got to the Chelsea, Manhattan, show venue at around 10 a.m. on Saturday. There were teams of people there with specific jobs to do, like setting up seating, organising backstage, and getting the space together.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderEveryone had a job.

So Maeda told Insider that her main job on show day was to make sure any necessary alterations to clothes were made …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderLast-minute steaming had to be done.

… make sure all front-of-house — anything that guests experience and see — technical aspects are taken care of …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderShe watches run-throughs of the models walking.

… and make sure that she and her team are ready to welcome guests.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderGuests arrive at the show.

In the hours before the show starts, models get their makeup done by Ito’s team …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderThere are photos plastered on the walls of what the makeup and hair should look like.

… stylists help get the women dressed in their assigned looks …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderIt takes a lot of people to get everyone ready.

… production assistants and publicists set up guest seating …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderA publicist places seating cards.

… and the electrical teams — like sound and lighting — set up their gear.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderMode-F set up their equipment in the centre of the space.

The actual runway show only took 10 minutes from start to finish.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderMaeda watched the show from a monitor backstage.

After taking the rest of the day to celebrate with friends and family …

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderFriends include actress, Maggie Gyllenhaal.

… Maeda told Insider that the team goes back to the studio for market appointments that week — that’s when retail buyers come to see the collection up-close and place orders for their stores’ inventory.

Rachel Askinasi/Business InsiderModels posed for photos backstage before the show started.

Other than that, Maeda told Insider that it’s time to go back to the drawing board — she’s already started designing her Pre-Fall 2020 collection — which won’t have a runway show — and her Fall 2020 collection, which will show at New York Fashion Week in February.

Courtesy of ADEAMOnto the next!

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.