Follow a Model: Behind-The-Scenes of Denver Fashion Week

Denver Fashion Week (DFW) has officially come and gone. Over 35 local and international designers brought their visions to life on the runway. This could not have happened without the amazing efforts of hairstylists, makeup artists, and, of course, the models who all helped bring the designer’s visions to life.

Over 100 models walked the runway during DFW, turning the art of the designers into an unforgettable experience. It takes a lot leading up to the show and the day of to prepare each model to be runway ready.

DFW model Natalie Thornton took us behind the scenes of Society night with Kit’s Boutique and walked us through the process of getting ready. 

READ: Denver Fashion Week Dazzles at First Ever Society Night

Leading up to DFW, models go through auditions and then if they pass, they attend casting where designers select who they want to walk for them. 

Thornton has walked for DFW before, so rather than attending auditions she went straight to casting on July 23.  She got lined up according to height, rolled her shoulder back, stood up straight, and let the designers flock towards her. After the casting was complete, Thornton was booked with five designers.

After casting, some designers hosted fittings, shared moodboards with hair and makeup artists and had their models practice their walk to the music. Though it’s the little things leading up that matter most, the real preparation doesn’t begin until the night before — especially when walking for multiple designers. 

READ: Denver Fashion Week Dazzles at First Ever Society Night

Leading up to Society, Thornton walked the previous two nights and felt fatigued — however, the adrenaline of being on the runway helped her push through. The night before Society, Thornton walked in DFW’s Sustainable night for Autumn Olive Crochet and she needed a night of relaxation.

After a night of skincare, haircare, and repacking her bag, the model went to sleep to prepare for the long, tiring next day.

The next morning, Thornton began her day with a quick yoga practice to prevent any pain from standing in heels all day. She then did her skincare routine and watched for any last-minute messages from the designer. Due to the call time being at 2 p.m. having a model bag with essentials is super important.

For Thornton, hers consists of a pair of both nude and black high heels, snacks, water, and replenishing any makeup that she lost the previous day. Lastly, the model put on some energetic music to get her blood flowing. With that, she was ready to head out the door. 

 

After picking up her friend, Thornton arrived at the venue, York Street Yards and walked inside to greet the designer. Throughout the day, Thornton sat backstage surrounded by the other models walking for Kit’s Boutique and began introducing herself to those she didn’t know. During this time, Thornton continuously drank water and ate snacks to ensure she would not feel sick once she took the runway. 

Next, it was time for rehearsal.

During the run though, models get to experience the runway for the first time. They learn how they will enter and exit, what kind of poses they should do, what side they will pass each other on, how fast they need to walk and any other small details relevant to their performance.

To immerse herself in rehearsals, Thornton put on the heels she would be walking in, lined up, and walked. The next time Thornton would see the runway is in front of everyone attending DFW.

 

Following rehearsals, Thornton hung out backstage until it was time for makeup. She began by moisturizing her skin to ensure the product would sit evenly and not crease over time. She then added some concealer to her under eye area, as well as any blemishes she had on her skin. The model liked to keep her face makeup on the light side because she liked to be able to see her freckles.

“When you are walking so many nights in a row, your skin is just waiting to break out,” She said. “By using less makeup, my skin is happier. Also, if there is no makeup, no creasing can happen, so the makeup lasts better.”

The model then added eyeshadow that fit the designer’s requirements, topped the look with some mascara and eyeliner, and set the look with setting spray. 

Next, Thornton returned to the backstage area and took a seat, ready to get her hair done. The look was quite simple — a slicked-back ponytail. After getting her hair done, Thornton ate her dinner and stood around with her friends, chatting about what they would be wearing and who they were walking for.

Thornton stated that the hurry-up-and-wait mindset of shows can be stressful, so having downtime and laughing with friends can help her relieve those nerves. 

Once the doors to the public opened, models were not allowed to leave backstage unless it was to use the restroom. It’s during this time, that they change into their outfits.

Thornton took her dress off of the rack and headed to the dressing rooms located near the back of the room. She stepped into her dress — a floor length pleated gown made up of different colors — and then walked back over to the designer, who would make a few last minute changes to ensure the dress fit flawlessly.

During this time, models can hear from backstage that Denver Fashion Week has begun. The remaining pieces of zen had vanished from the crowd and chaos had begun. 

Thornton changed into her heels, touched up her hair and makeup, then lined up with the other models of her group. Thornton was opening for the designer’s runway segment, so she stood at the front of the line. Opening can be intimidating for a model and is often a huge honor. As the first person seen by the audience, it sets the vibe for the rest of the runway segment. Luckily, Thornton was no stranger to opening a runway and she was ready to hit the runway.

After standing for a few minutes, a staff member of Denver Fashion Week ran backstage to grab the group and lined them up. After applauding for the previous segment as they exited the runway, the music changed and the big screen displayed the logo for Kit’s Boutique. With a simple whisper of the word “go,” Thornton was on the runway with all eyes on her.

As she grabbed the sides of her dress, she strutted with pure confidence and the cameras began flashing. Once she hit the end of the runway, Thornton struck a pose and turned around to head back to where she came from. She stood behind the curtains of the runway celebrating, silently cheering and dancing with those who were across the way from her. With a quick flood walk, where all models walked the runway together one last time — Thornton finished her walk for Society.

Thornton led the group backstage, met by the cheers of other models lined up. She quickly changed back into her clothing, thanked her designer, and headed out to watch the rest of the show and cheer on the other models.

Post Denver Fashion Week, she wanted nothing more than to asleep. She took a quick shower, removed all of the makeup and hair gel and then began preparing a large meal to eat. She sat on the couch with the rest of her family, celebrating the night and watching TV. Although she was extremely happy with her performance, Thornton is always hoping to do better. “I’ve never had a ‘perfect’ runway in my entire career, there is always something I want to improve on. Straightening my back, trying out a new pose,” She said. 

Thornton’s piece of advice for upcoming models?

If you’re confident in yourself, you can do anything in the fashion world. There is quite literally nothing to lose,” She said. Thornton encourages everyone to be their most authentic selves, and to always be kind to those around you. 

All photos by Sarah King