Anatomy of a catwalk show — and how the model industry works

Behind the scenes at Burberry, the biggest show in London Fashion Week

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It takes 39 models, 1,170 minutes of hair and make-up and 30kg of silver confetti to create London’s biggest show.

1,600 guests representing 32 counties

7,220 tweets sent during the show. Burberry was mentioned more than 19,000 times during London Fashion Week, the most mentions of any brand

50 plus singers made up the choir, accompanying Clare Maguire, for the rendition of George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord during the finale

1,100 square metres of show space was erected in Perk’s Field Kensington Palace Gardens

179 photographers of the 600 accredited by the British Fashion Council, took over 15,000 pictures

39 models walked the runway, with 15 models walking twice

180 media outlets live-streamed the show

30 minutes Average time spent by each model in the make-up and hair chair

21 make-up artists One lead artist (Wendy Rowe), with 20 assistants

6,400 minutes Time taken by calligraphers to hand-write the 1,600 invitations

60 liveried cars Chauffeur-driven Mercedes-Benz delivered fashion editors and VIP attendees to the front row

52 seconds Average time that it took each model to walk the runway

54 looks made up Christopher Bailey’s AW15 collection for Burberry Prorsum

45 metres The length of the runway

2 casting directors Barbara Nicoli and Leila Ananna

13 minutes, 33 seconds Length of the show

30kg of silver confetti dropped during the finale

19 hair stylists One lead (Christiaan Houtenbos) with 18 assistants

8 musicians created the soundtrack for the show

4 hours Amount of time before the show that the models arrived


How the model industry works

The Burberry Prorsum model cast sheet

Fifty-four looks, 39 models and 52 seconds each on the catwalk: the Burberry model cast is the biggest of any show in London Fashion Week. Picked by casting directors Barbara Nicoli and Leila Ananna (who also cast for Gucci), the Burberry models came from six continents — yet no casting is confirmed until each model has arrived in London, meaning that confirmations can be as late as the day before the show.

“The process of casting models starts with composite cards of all the potential show girls here for LFW being emailed [to casting agents] as a PDF, and then followed up with a hard package of model cards,” says Aidan Jean-Marie, a director at Premier Model Management, who had five models in the Burberry show.

Once the models have arrived in London, there is then a live casting, where they are optioned before the final process: fit to confirm — “this is where the model is either confirmed or cancelled — it’s all about the look working.” For fittings, models are paid a flat fee of £50 per hour, plus 20 per cent agent’s fee.

Out of Burberry’s 35 female models, 14 walked twice — including Amber Anderson, who opened and closed the show (with Burberry being the only show she did this LFW), and Malaika Firth, a previous Burberry campaign star, who has taken to the catwalk for the brand for the past four seasons.

The rates that models are paid varies dramatically, and in London — where the British Fashion Council sets many of the rates — is particularly dependent on the show. Fees start at about £100 for a first-time designer, although models can get “£30,000-plus for just one show”, says Jean-Marie. At that rate, it is likely that the model is on an exclusive deal, permitting her to work only for that one designer worldwide. Often, a model will appear in shows on the understanding that she will then be cast in a campaign (Burberry’s current campaign models — Jourdan Dunn, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne — were sitting on the front row, rather than walking on Monday).

In New York, Marc Jacobs pays in trade, allowing models to pick pieces from his line, while Ralph Lauren and Oscar de la Renta are believed to be the best payers — with models referring to the latter as “Oscar pays the Renta”.

Photographs: Matt Crossick/ Empics Entertainment; Getty

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