OPINION: My experience as a backstage dresser

By Sophia Truempi | January 26, 2023 10:00am
by Emma Sells / The Beacon

When I was younger, I remember briefly watching "Project Runway." I never thought about the blood, sweat and tears that come with perfecting a model’s look backstage. Little did I know I’d be working as a backstage dresser at the 2022 FashioNXT Runway Show for the designer Seth Aaron — winner of “Project Runway” season seven and “Project Runway” all stars season three.

Backstage dressing was full of excitement, with adrenaline during a quick-change and post-relief after the models were successfully dressed. It also forced me to get to know a piece of clothing well and adjust it to a model’s body just right.

Steaming a finely made garment was taken to a whole other level as you begin to appreciate the attention to detail and countless hours of work and thought a designer has put into it. 

Zipping up a skirt is no mundane task when it is a high-waisted A-line skirt made of quality Turkish Georgette with houndstooth print, netting under the skirt to add volume and a chic faux leather waistband to complete the look.

On top of that, you may even get the pleasure of hearing about the designer’s work first-hand while organizing the looks according to their lineup. I was able to aid three designers including Seth Aaron, AleO and Mondo Guerra — each having their own impressive backgrounds. 

Seth Aaron’s work, The Dutchess Collection, was made of bold and striking looks. The Terra/Grounded in Nature Collection was made of genderless sustainable garments by AleO, the two-time best emerging designer by the Portland Fashion and Style Awards. Guerra, who designed the Innovative, Creative and Colorful Collection, is a known social influencer and “Project Runway'' all stars season one winner.

With these looks now etched into my mind, I still find myself thinking about them at times. I guess that is the point of fashion shows. Each piece leaves an impression on your mind that you’ll be thinking about for several months afterward. 

Having no previous backstage dressing or fashion show experience, everything felt novel and glamorous. Even the dull act of steaming a skirt was thrilling. 

Backstage dressing and helping designers’ visions come to life was more intoxicating than I ever thought it would be. Making me more interested in the world of fashion and runway shows, it also made me more open to trying out other “firsts.” Maybe my next “first” won’t be as glamorous as a fashion runway show, but I have no doubt it will be fun.

So, my advice is simple: Go be a backstage dresser at a fashion show, or if that doesn’t sound compelling, go involve yourself in something new that seems interesting to you. Whether you end up liking it or not, frankly, the act of trying is what makes life fun.

Sophia Truempi was a reporter for The Beacon and graduated this past semester. She can be reached at truempi22@up.edu.

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