Have you ever wondered what it’s like working backstage at a fashion show? Are you secretly hoping it’s as chaotic as the ones Lauren Conrad went to in The Hills? Well, look no further because I have the inside scoop. I got the opportunity to help out at a fashion show that kicked off New York Fashion Week. However, Salute the Runway was unique. There were no size two models or last minute alterations, instead real women were strutting their stuff down the runway. The theme was little black dresses and each model was a retired captain or sergeant in the U.S. Army, Navy or Air Force. Little Black Dress Wines sponsored the event along with Fatigues to Fabulous, an organization that helps women who serve in the military adjust to civilian life and it also raises money for research on health conditions that women face. Calvin Klein and DKYNY loaned dresses for the event and professional models form IMG Models coached the women on how to walk the runway. I guess my claim to fame backstage was lint rolling the dresses so they could look their best. I also had the responsibility of packaging gift bags, but I mainly shadowed the PR girls who ran the show. Though I didn’t personally experience anything super hectic like that of the typical fashion week shows, I paid close attention to what was going on in the makeup and hair department. Bobbi Brown provided the makeup service and I knew I was witnessing experts at work. I also knew I was apart of something important because camera crews from InStyle and CBS were backstage. I really just did my best to stay out of the way, but my friend Gina made an appearance steaming a wrinkled dress.
Plus, it wouldn’t be a New York fashion show without a celebrity spotting, now would it? One of the Project Runway all stars, Joshua McKinley, designed the outfit of retired Army captain Leslie Nicole Smith so naturally he made a guest appearance. Leslie is a legally blind amputee who walked the runway with her Seeing Eye dog, Isaac. I spoke to Leslie who is Fatigues to Fabulous spokeswoman and helped her feel prepared and calm for her speech. Mind you, I didn’t know she was blind when this was happening. The courage that woman has is beyond my capability. Once the music started and the women had to line up, I sympathized with the women who were either nervous or excited. They were so deserving of this moment. Honestly, the best part about this experience was witnessing these women who served our country walking down the runway clearly being confident and feeling beautiful. As you can imagine, they got a standing ovation. Even though my contribution might not have been the greatest, I was happy to be apart of this special event honoring these women. Young and old, injured or not, these women have shown me what courage and strength truly look like. It’s important to note that fashion has a purpose in everyone’s lives. It was humbling to see such an important cause be brought to our attention in collaboration with Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. A spot on that runway – and even backstage – is coveted by so many, I’m thankful for the opportunity to experience it. And yes, I was in awe just walking through the tent knowing the kind of magic that goes on behind them for the main events.