Shoelace disasters, last-minute makeup and more behind-the-scenes mayhem at Toronto Fashion Week
A minute-by-minute recap of the countdown to Mackage’s runway show
The crowd at Mackage’s spring show on Wednesday night saw serene-looking models float down the runway in perfectly put-together outfits. Backstage, however, was a more chaotic story: makeup artists, stylists, designers and models had just over an hour to get ready (for some, it was a lot less). We went backstage before the 9 p.m. show to see, minute-by-minute, how they pulled it off.
7:45 p.m. A few models walking in the 8 p.m. Pink Tartan show are still getting last-minute touch-ups at the hair and makeup stations. Meanwhile, models for Mackage start trickling in and taking their seats.
Rita Remark, the lead nail artist for Essie, is backstage with her nail team. The Mackage models will be sporting a black, gold and green design (the one on the far left). “We have less than an hour to do everyone’s nails,” says Remark. “Luckily I have an amazing team with steady hands. Everyone carries an angled eyeliner brush for fixing mistakes.”
8:00 p.m. With an hour to go, models start getting coiffed. For Mackage, the look is a half-head of tiny french braids, with the other side tousled and messy. The secret hairstyling weapon? Aerosol mousse.
8:15 p.m. When hair and nails are done, models move into the makeup chairs. Meanwhile, Mackage designers Eran Elfassy and Elisa Dahan carefully examine each outfit in the nearby prep room.
Grace Lee, the lead makeup artist for Maybelline New York, has been working on the Mackage makeup look for three weeks. “It’s a city look for cool kids, which I like because it’s so unexpected for spring,” she says. She runs between each station checking on the models’ makeup. “Lips need more red!” she says. The other artists watch as she demonstrates a fix.
8:20 p.m. A few Pink Tartan models are also walking in the Mackage show. They rush backstage to have their looks “flipped” (meaning hair, nails and makeup are completely changed). Each flip takes a team of four or five stylists. “It’s all about speed,” says Lee.
8:25 p.m. An announcer yells that anyone walking in Mackage needs to be in the prep room in five minutes. The models rush around with their hair held back in clips (tissue paper prevents it leaving a mark in the hair).
8:30 p.m. Models start heading into the prep room to change into their first looks. “We wanted the aesthetic to be industrial yet polished,” says designer Dahan. “We took our classic leather jackets and added edgy details like studs and fringe.”
8:45 p.m. Once dressed, the models line up in the order they’re set to walk.
8:50 p.m. It’s all about the last-minute details. For instance, it’s someone’s job to rub lotion on all the models’ legs.
8:55 p.m. Hairstylists and makeup artists jump from model to model, touching up lipstick and adding volume to hair.
9:04 p.m. The show starts—and the touch-ups continue.
9:08 p.m. Models strut off the runway and sprint back to the prep area to change into their second looks. One male model can’t do up his shoelaces in time. He’s cut from the second half of the show.
9:10 p.m. It’s the job of Mackage’s marketing coordinator to grab all the sunglasses off the models as they rush back in for the finale.
9:15 p.m. The show is over, and the designers celebrate briefly backstage before heading outside to do press interviews. Elfassy and Dahan agree that the most stressful part of the process is all the little things they can’t control. “The coats are always fine! It’s things like shoelaces that cause the biggest disasters.”