The Queen Behind the Scenes at Fashion Week

Audrey Smaltz heads a company that handles all the details to ensure a successful runway show.

Audrey Smaltz

With all those fashion events, Smaltz and her employees have a front-row seat to everything that happens in the world of fashion, including the many changes that have affected the fashion industry over the years.

“You have more shows, that’s for sure. Frankly, you have too many designers out there trying to show. There are designers out there that shouldn’t have big shows because for one thing, they can’t afford it,” Smaltz said.

But Smaltz said the biggest change has been in another element of the fashion-show equation: the models.

“The [female] models today are not nearly as elegant, chic or sophisticated as the girls of the ’80s and the ’90s. The girls in the ’80s and the ’90s knew what to do and were where they were supposed to be,” Smaltz said. “Today, these models are really girls. They’re giddy and giggly and young. Here you have a 13-, 14-, 15-year-old girl trying to walk in platforms, and she has no idea.

“And they don’t have personalities now. It’s the nature of what the directors want now. It’s ‘have a sour face, walk out and come back.’ These models today don’t even know the proper way to take off and put on a coat on the runway. They can’t do it. It’s sad.”

The male runway models, she added, are generally sweet and true gentlemen, but a bit slow when it comes to changing their clothes.

And Smaltz and her crew have also encountered a growing number of show directors and designers who don’t really know how things should be handled backstage, either. There was, for example, the designer’s assistant who didn’t want to tell the crew the order of the show even though the crew was supposed to dress the models. Then there was the show that only had three pairs of shoes but 28 models.

“We just had to create a system. Shoes off at the exit, pass them over to the model at the entrance. We kept things running,” Smaltz said with a chuckle.

As for the best of the big changes over the years, Smaltz has one favorite.

“We don’t have to worry about panty hose much anymore. That’s huge for us. For so many years we had to change panty hose. We used to layer it sometimes,” she said. “Now the designers don’t bother with it that much anymore for the runway. It just shows how things change.”

Karyn D. Collins is a New Jersey-based writer.

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