Some of you may know, but I was able to dress models for the last show of Berlin Fashion Week. Like I learned a long time ago, it was all about the connections. I knew someone who knew a pretty important someone that got me the job. I had one of those moments when it was offered to me where I saw myself 15 years from now, looking back on my time in Berlin and realized this wasn’t an experience I could turn down. So, I pulled out my all-black, non-distressed wardrobe, aka my faux-leather leggings that I bought for the winter months, and a black t-shirt. Dressing to work Berlin Fashion Week probably should have been more stressful than it was for me, because essentially EVERYONE is looking at you. Did I fit in? Not one bit. Did I rock it like I was supposed to be there? Absolutely.
That brings me to the first lesson I learned from my three dedicated hours to the German Fashion Council; it’s all about confidence. I’ve never been the trendiest person with the trendiest clothes and I have never been a part of the fashion culture and community. But with my Gallery Crew pass and faux-leather leggings sticking to my sweaty legs, I sure as hell acted like I belonged there. I’ve never physically dressed another capable human-being, but I didn’t stumble and get weird as I fed sparkly trousers onto the naked leg of a grown woman. I just did it with confidence. I did it with confidence as we took free food from the production room, went to the venue after the show ended, looked around, took selfies, and got free beer from the bar. I did it with confidence as I spent the night partying with the German Fashion Council girls and drinking their office alcohol. So essentially, what I mean to say is that if you fake confidence you can do literally anything you’re probably not supposed to be doing. Confidence, my friends. It’s magic.
The second lesson I learned is that some of the stereotypes of fashion and modeling are wrong. I also learned that some are true. Working as a dresser was the most chill job with the highest perks. I stood around and looked at pretty clothes and talked to all these fashionable people who are studying fashion management or design. Then I got told what to do: dress the model. I hoped I could do it correctly. I was semi-nervous of stumbling on the buttons of a jacket like an awkward 16-year-old losing his v-card and not knowing how to get a bra off. This is 100% accurate symbolic representation of how I felt dressing my models. However, while these women were incredibly chic, skinny and towered over me by at least a foot, they were incredibly kind.
I had two models, Chelsey (from the USA) and Egle (from Lithuania.) I got so attached to my models that I started calling them my models. It hasn’t stopped, yet. I don’t know that it ever will. I cheered them on from my little wardrobe stand in the back while they likely flawlessly walked down a runway to intense music. I couldn’t tell you if they did flawlessly walk down the runway because I couldn’t see it, but my expectations are extremely low, and these women are incredible, so they could sneeze and fall, and I would still be in awe. Work it girls.
I also couldn’t go look at the small screen behind the stage to watch the show because I had to change Chelsey (my model) for her second outfit. If you don’t know what that means, it’s a highly stressful 10-minute wait involving me holding a dress in my hands and hoping I don’t forget to take her first outfit off before I try to put the second one on. Chelsey got back for her wardrobe change and as she walked up, and I started undressing her she was suddenly being called back. It was 5 seconds of pure chaos. CHELSEY! CHELSEY! So, she turned and fled back the way she had come, half undressed. I threw her second outfit, a dress that would look like a potato sack on me, at a woman chasing after her. I had the button to her jacket she was wearing in my hand… just a small mishap…I worked out my anxiety with confidence.
The models truly were kind. They both talked to me about their lives and asked me questions about mine as I watched them get their knees and feet painted with makeup. Chelsey is a software engineer meets model on the side, which is essentially the coolest thing I have ever heard. She got discovered by a bike accident. Like…. whose life is this?! Egle read a book when I was done dressing her and had the face of someone you know is going to make it far in this industry. The perfect playful pout that makes me look severely ill when I try to pose that way for pictures. In fact, all of the angles these girls were rocking for pictures were ones I could never EVER do by myself. At one-point Egle grabbed my side before going on stage, I think it was supposed to be kind and playful like thanks girl for putting this sweatshirt on me. But her sweet touch gave her more than she was hoping for. She got all up in my side roll. Her hand probably entered an alternate dimension for the five seconds that she playfully grabbed my side. Your welcome Egle, for the experience. I still don’t know how to say your name.
After the show ended we cleaned up a little, put our wardrobes in wardrobe bags and then went outside and drank and ate for free. The fashion show was at the biggest club in Berlin, which is nearly impossible to get into. It’s called Berghain and to experience the alternate reality that is Berghain is an experience you cannot pass up. My friends and I were drinking our free beer, acting like we were big shots that just executed an entire fashion show by ourselves and figuring out how to camp out for three hours to attempt to get into the club through some back entrance. However, the German Fashion Council clique of girls invited us to party with them. We went to their office in Bikini Berlin and took pictures behind their office plants and drank their office supply of alcohol. Then we went across the street to the Waldorf Astoria, where they had a room for the week and we drank and sat in bed and played with their cool hotel technology and trinkets. Heated bathroom floors? What is the world we live in? Then we had to decide between invitations to parties that threw around words like “creative director of Louis Vuitton is DJ-ing” or “secret techno party” with elite people in this huge grand flat in an old European building. Long story short, I drank for free all night. I got home when the sun was going up and I have zero regrets.
All in all, I am so entirely happy I didn’t turn down the chance to work Berlin Fashion Week. The experience was unlike anything I’ll ever have. I met amazing people with amazing jobs and I got a glimpse into the inner workings of a culture I have always wondered at from the outside. I realized that the creative industry is where I belong, and I made connections with incredibly talented photographers, event planners and fashionistas. I stood in the same room as Lutz Huelle, who if I knew anything about this culture I would know is a very important fashion designer. We made eye contact a thousand times and he kindly asked me and my friends to quiet down at one point because he was being interviewed in the corner. If that isn’t experience, I don’t know what is. I know now that when I do look back in 15 years, I will not regret that time I stayed out all night with the German Fashion Council and sweated abnormally in my faux-leather leggings. It was for the culture.