Falling on the runway is my biggest fear. The bruises to ego and ankles. The flashbulbs. The awkwardly extended hands from the front row. The sick sensation of single-handedly bringing everything to a stop.
Not that, you know, I'd know or anything.
Hervé Leger's show in the tents yesterday afternoon was the scene of several slip-ups, and two notable falls. (Designer Max Azria blamed the set, with its slick dark wood tiled runway, but to his credit, he hasn't publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the models.) Katie Fogarty, the newbie who was one of the many girls to fall so spectacularly in the Prada spring-summer 09 show last September, must have felt like she was in a waking Groundhog Day nightmare at Leger. Look at her grim determination:
She didn't end up on the ground this time around, but one senses it was touch and go.
Walking on the runway is one of those things that most people who look at, think, 'Shouldn't be that hard!' and leave it at that. And that's a fine point, except for the fact that when you're wearing 6" heels, an outfit that might not fit and/or is held together with basting stitches and double-sided tape, you can't look at your feet, you've been given some nonsensical instruction like "Walk strong! But feminine! Not girly!" and you're in a darkened room where all eyes are on what you're wearing, it can get a little complicated. The fashion industry has a sort of deadline problem, in that most of the things we do only come together at the very last minute; all this past week I've been at castings witnessing designers putting together collections full of clothes that were manufactured in China but embroidered in India with knitwear done in Indonesia and leather accessories in Italy and every last bit of it is being altered, slowly, in the workroom, but first they have to pick models, and so-and-so might be confirmed for a bigger, conflicting show and in that case we'll have to go with someone else, and then the jewelry isn't ready but let's see her in that look anyway, there are decisions to be made about lighting and music and hair and makeup, photo reps and stylists just waltzing in to grovel for invitations, and are there going to be tights on the runway, what about tights, again? It's this giant, multifarious play acted out by people who mostly don't get paid very much money, and occasionally the left hand forgets what the right hand is doing.
And it's no surprise when minor disasters happen, like a poorly designed set causing a series of falls, because this is the first time all these elements were ever combined; there's no rehearsal where you find out the lighting design is going to blind the girls as they walk out, or that the last-minute alterations to that dress are going to cause it to split up the back, or that the floor is like ice under the soles of those Louboutins, so you all have to roll with it in the grand tradition of fashion experimentation. It was all the people at Leger could do, probably, to get the runway looks styled and more or less assign somewhat fitting shoes to each girl, and somewhere along the line someone didn't think about how slippery those unworn shoes might be on that shiny floor. (The same thing happened at Marc Jacobs a few seasons ago, when he used gleaming white enamel paint on his catwalk.)
The actual moment when you're on the runway is, strangely, the most zen part of a fashion show. It's the only time nobody's tugging your arm or pulling on or off your tights or mussing your hair; nobody with a headset is going to tell you where to go or what to do for those 10 seconds. It's not even long enough to form a thought as coherent as 'Make the dress look good' or 'Don't fall.' I don't know about anyone else, but my mind sort of blanks.
I imagine a fall coming in the midst of that serene mental quiet would be a tremendous shock indeed. And potentially quite painful. Monika "Jac" Jagaciak, a 15-year-old Polish model, and Karolin Wolter, a 17-year-old German whom Style.com hilariously described as a model who looks like she "arrived in NYC with a bit of life experience," both soldiered on admirably. Jagaciak is an industry veteran, with a Jalouse cover, an Hermès campaign, and an OMG babymodels! controversy in a secondary market under her 24-inch belt. (And this video attests to the fact she can walk, should any casting directors be in doubt.)
Now, because all's well that ends well, an image gallery of what went down on the runway yesterday afternoon.
This is Monika J.
And this is Karolin Wolter.
I'd say don't laugh at these poor souls, but, you know, I'm smirking now myself. If it's not tempting fate too much to admit to laughing with them. I just need my luck to hold through the rest of this season.
Related: Katie Fogarty Trips At Prada Spring Summer 2009 [YouTube]
Max Azria Would Rather You Didn't Focus On The Falling Models [NY Mag - The Cut]
Hervé Leger By Max Azria [Style.com]
Hervé Leger Fall 09: Full Of Model Falls [Fashionologie]
Protests Force 14-Year-Old Monika Jagaciak Out Of Fashion Show [Times of London]