CEDAR FALLS — In mid-February, the world’s renowned designers sent models down the runway as celebrities, buyers and the public applauded, gasped and gossiped during New York Fashion Week.
But the real action took place behind the scenes. It was a hectic, exhausting and exhilarating 10 shows in eight days — a whirlwind of activity that included Texture Hair Studio owners Travis Ford and Brent Kriener.
The Cedar Falls stylists and their team Brooke Knapp, Bayle Frost and Chloe Olson joined celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson and master colorist Jason Backe to style hair on runway models for 10 shows.
Designers unveiled fashions for fall 2018, and the team worked on hair designs for “Project Runway” winner Irina Shabayeva; Angel Brinks, star of “Basketball Wives”; Naldo Montanez; the Secret Society of Ex Mermaids; Carmen Marc Valvo and others.
“It’s cool to see all the work that goes into producing a runway show. The shows are very theatrical and to be part of that was amazing,” says Ford.
Hair and makeup styles seen on the runway in February will influence themes that will be seen for fall 2018.
For the Texture Hair Studio team, participating in Fashion Week meant 13 or more hours each day on their feet, creating hair styles chosen by the fashion designer, including Victorian punk up-dos, elegant chignons, sleek ponytails and putting glimmer in models’ hair with 24k gold leaf.
The team attended a meet-and-greet upon arrival in NYC, where they received a crash course in new techniques and styles required for each designer’s show, including demonstrations.
“We were told to claim our models when they sat down in makeup chairs and tell them to come to us next,” Ford explains. “We’d style our models, and then each model was checked before she went out on the runway.”
Sometimes stylists worked with hair that was already loaded with products — mousse, hair spray, etc. — from two or three previous shows, or transform coarse hair into sleek, smooth-pressed hair. The models themselves were “like anybody else … some were nice, some were not,” says Kriener.
One model plopped down into Kriener’s chair, complaining that she was “hangry” — hungry and angry. Kriener offered her half of his sub sandwich, which she wolfed down — “and she felt much better and was very nice.”
The 30 or so stylists also were told their work was being observed and critiqued during the week. Then five stylists, including Kriener and Ford, were chosen to work on Carmen Marc Valvo’s show.
“We had to pack up and leave right then — it was like TV’s ‘The Amazing Race,’ really crunch time,” Kriener recalls. “It was the coolest show we worked on,” Ford says. “And we were able to watch all of the shows, either sitting or standing in the back.”
At the end of one show, a model stood up on a chair and addressed the entire hair and makeup crew, praising them for their work and professionalism. Gibson teared up at the praise, Ford says.
And of course, they’d do another Fashion Week in a New York minute. “I don’t care if I have to hand bobby pins to a stylist, I’d do it,” Kriener adds.