Project Runway: Runway Day

We made it to the day of the Runway!!!!
(You can read all about my application to the show in this post. Then about working with Ken in this post. And about the first day of filming in this post.)

All of us were SO excited. We had reverted to our first day levels of adrenaline. We arrived at Parson’s and went into our “models room”. We were admiring our fellow Super Fans’ hair and trying to understand that today was REAL. We were miked and then taken to the purple hallway (right outside the work room). We waited behind the black curtain. The crew was in all black, and hid in the perpendicular doorways and the stairwells. It is fascinating to watch the process of how a TV show gets made. We waited quietly and then we filed into the work room. Tim was there. The designers were there, with our looks. At least 3 cameras were in the room, and their sound partners too.

I went in and saw my dress! It looked good.
Screen shot 2013-09-24 at 9.33.06 AM
The dress had a neck line added and it plunged considerably. Oh well, we can’t make it higher now. It needed darts in the back. Maybe “we” would have time for those. I thought Ken bought lining fabric, to help structure the difference between the silk and the leather, but the dress was not lined. Nor did I see any interfacing. Hmmm. Well, come what may, he had worked on this and I was not going to sell him down the river. I was going to “make it work.” He had a couple of hours to perfect it! I would wait and hope for the best. We gave back our looks for final alterations and started down to Hair and Make-up.

The room they use for their studio is small. Then consider that there are 8 models, several camera crew pairs, a lead hair man, his team, the lead make-up man, and his team. Now, the room is filled to subway-at-rush-hour capacity. More than one person did my make up and more than one person did my hair. It was beyond luxury. So many people, so many TEAMS of people were working on each of us, trying to make each of us look our best. What a feeling THAT is!!!

My make up was more perfect than I could have imagined. I guess I thought that when you went on TV that you would have a ridiculous amount of make-up on. Now, I did have on a lot in comparison to a normal day, but I thought it looked really good. I could still breath. I felt like the very best version of me. (Thank you Scotty! )

My hair. Ahhh.
Johnny said, “I am glad you embrace your curls.” And I said ,”Oh. Of Course. I’m not going to win a fight with them.” He laughed and said, “Good”. We were going for dramatic hair that day. And holy-tendril batman, he did not disappoint. My hair was big, curly and just perfect. It looked the way my insides felt, big and happy.
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Oh, Johnny, thank you. Big hugs.

The atmosphere in this little make-up studio was so wonderful. The men and women in there were working but they were not in a contest. They were there to make us look better and they were not stressed out. (Or at least they did not show it) So, this little busy room was actually one of my favorite parts of the show. They worked quickly and watched their time, but they were so easy. They kept it light and made sure that we were okay. It was surprisingly pleasant, friendly and less stressful, because, make no mistake, we could feel the runway approaching like a storm just off shore.

Back upstairs, we put our dresses on and we went down for final touches. They lined us up for the runway back stage and they reviewed our instructions with us.  Step out to the the scrim (the name for the big light board where your silhouette is showing.), stop and pose, then go. Out to your right, in front of the scrim, stop and hold, down the stairs. Strut your stuff down that runway, and stop on the mark at the end of the runway, but don’t look down. Stop on the mark, and pose. There will be a man standing under the camera with his hand up in a fist. Wait for him. When he lowers his fist, you turn left, and walk back. But do not go until he takes his hand down. You can move, or change your pose, but do not “shake”. (That part made me giggle. Did they think I was going to get down there and break into a “Charo shimmy”?) When he signals, turn left, and walk back. Go up the stairs, pause, and go around to the right of the scrim. Do not pose behind the scrim on the way out. Cross quickly.

The guy that was back stage with us was clearly a seasoned professional. He had an ear piece in and he DID, in fact, act like secret service. He really gave directions, stayed completely calm. He lead us all. He let us know how this whole thing was going to go. We were going to run this 4 times (maybe 5) and each time was with a different camera. The last time would be with the judges.

The studio got very quiet and we lined up for our first Runway. There will never be a way for me to articulate what I was feeling. The anticipation and the thrill were electrifying. It was as if someone replaced my blood with a chemical. The calm “secret service” production man was listening to his ear piece and he nodded, as if they could see him. Off I went. (The first time we went down the runway there was no music, so it was a little bit hard.)Screen shot 2013-09-24 at 10.07.32 PM

I thought before I went that maybe I would try to go down the runway with a straight face, like the models do. What a joke. You could not have wiped the smile off my face for money. I rounded the corner and I thought I would explode from excitement.
Screen shot 2013-09-24 at 10.03.40 PM
I grinned ear to ear. I wanted to cheer. I wanted to shriek with joy! I wanted to jump up and down, but I just smiled. I beamed my fool face off. I marched down that runway like it was my JOB.

There is actually an “audience” on the day of taping. I am not sure how you score those seats. It could be all studio executives, because there is such potential for spoilers to see what we saw in the time frame we saw it in. (We knew the top 8 designers before the season even aired.) The audience surprised me and, if it is possible, they made me more nervous than I was before.

I think that first time down the runway was just a camera check. As we each rounded the corner off the runway, the make-up and hair team would descend upon us anew. Blot, blot, spray, spray. Check. Adjust. Line up. “Quiet ladies, quiet please.”  Just off the stage door was the little hair/makeup studio. So we would dart off stage, and wind up in there, where you could speak in a full whisper, as opposed to NO speaking back stage. Everyone came back in a state of shock, as if they had each just walked a hire wire over a fire pit. And then, it was time to line up again. The second time, they played music and I think it was more “for real”. It was a little bit more “natural” to walk with music (if being a model is in any way “natural” for me.)
Screen shot 2013-09-24 at 10.09.06 PM
This was my scrim shot. I love that.

When a model walks, with her long long legs, sometimes they look as if they are just moving from the knee. If you were to exaggerate their motions, it would look as if they throw their lower leg and kick their foot. This is called “stomp it out”. I tried to do it (off the runway) and it was hilarious and affected. I did not do this when I was on the runway. But you can hear Kate talking about “stomp it out” when she it talking to Helen about Alta Gracia.
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One time when we went down the runway there was a camera on a gyroscope kind of crane arm that rode around above us. Another time we went down, and there was a man wearing a camera on a stabilizer device on his waist. He was so strong and agile, he worked his camera while moving backwards down the runway in front of us.

And so it went. Walking down the runway. It didn’t get easier and it didn’t get less exciting. It was wildly thrilling to see how they made this show and be IN the show at the same time.
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Then we went in the little make-up studio and there was a pause. The “secret service” man stood with his back to the stage doors, closing us in. I could hear talking, cheering and clapping, but it was all muffled. Then we realized, it must be Heidi and the judges coming in. The thrill level in the room rose again! There was blotting and dabbing and spraying. Then we went out and walked the runway AGAIN. I. Walked. Down. The. Runway. In. Front. Of. Heidi. Klum.  The end.

I came off the runway like a rocket trying to reenter the atmosphere. There was probably a fire trail behind me. But the day of filming had just begun.


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10 Comments to Project Runway: Runway Day
    • Pam
    • I am love love loving your comments on your PR experience! I loved you on the show and was really delighted to read on Tom & Lorenzo’s blog that you were one of the superfans.

      Two things:

      I was (briefly) in the PR episode in Gretchen’s season, where they redesigned bridesmaid’s gowns. Reading what you said in an earlier entry, about working with Ken, reminded me of this experience. I met the designers with no preconceptions about them, found all of them at least congenial and some of them really relatable (Peach is aptly named!), and voted for Gretchen’s design. Tim Gunn was absolutely wonderful. He just glows. And the experience, while so much smaller than yours, was delightfully surreal–especially seeing my (hot, sweaty, unfashionable) self briefly during the episode. Like stepping into a story book.

      Second, I was on Jeopardy! a few years back, and one of my favorite memories of the experience was getting made up. Not long before, I had had a makeover at a department store and was driven to tears; the Important International Makeup Master made me look like a drag queen. And not a good one–a sad-clown one. So not only was the TV makeup experience pleasant, but the result was almost natural–I looked like me. I wish I remembered my artist’s name; I’d love to thank her again.

      I love the Barbies.

      So glad to have made your e-acquaintance.

      • Susi
      • Pam. 1. What did you do? Were you one of the bridesmaids? They should totally do that one again!! 2. Well done make-up is a a gift, no? I was super surprised! Scott Patrick. Thank you Scotty! E quaintance. That is our new word! We have made some GREAT blog friends out here. Thank you for joining our conversation!

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