1. Okay, right, are people really dressed like this?

Yes, yes they are. It’s kinda, totally fabulous, especially if you enjoy people watching. Fashion week attracts lots of aspiring stylists, designers, people who love to dress up and those who want to be street-snapped. So, you get a lot of looks. Then there are other people – with some crossover – who are primarily there to work, to see what they’ll be reporting on or buying in for the next season. Y’know, the actual reason for fashion week.

2. So, lots of poseurs?

Let’s let Jimmy Kimmel address that one, shall we?

celebrities on the FROW

3. Do people really steal seats? What does the FROW look like?

You bet your sweet fandango they do. It’s not uncommon for peeps with standing tickets to plonk themselves down and refuse to move, leaving a seated ticket-holder raging. PRs tend not to have time or ability to fight through rows of people to sort it out, so it can be dog-eat-dog.

julien macdonald at LFW ss15

Tickets for particular shows are at a huge premium and you’d have to be a serious glossy mag heavyweight, an A-lister, the designer’s mother or best friends with the brand’s PR to score a FROW seat for those; others would be easier. In general, the benches are tiny, bums are assumed to be weeny so the space allocated to each person is roughly four and a half inches. It’s a squash. The view from above at Julien Macdonad’s LFW SS15 show, gives you a good idea of how many get jammed in (this is a biiig venue) and what sort of order of importance they have. Hint: That balcony is Siberia.

backstage at NYFW SS15

4. And what’s it like backstage?

Well, it starts off a little like this, back there in hair and makeup. Calm. Relaxed. The first models get lots of attention and time lavished on them. Then, as things near kickoff and late-arriving girls land, fresh from walking other shows, things start to get a bit manic.

backstage at NYFW ss14

It’s not uncommon, just before the show’s due to start, to find four or five people blasting through the look on a model. Two or three on hair, one on makeup and another down on the floor trying to get the nails done; and all in three minutes flat. But the beauty pros are so used to the pressure, it doesn’t faze them.

backstage at NYFW ss15

It might look like a madhouse, with editors clamouring around the lead makeup artist (for Maybelline in this case), getting the scoop on the products used to create the look, but everyone has a station and a kit they’re using, and everyone knows their place. Dim lighting? Yeah, they’re used to that too. Magic, these makeup artists.

new products at fashion week

5. Do you get a sneaky peek on not-yet-released products backstage?

Yup you certainly do. Mac uses fashion week as a test bed for its many artists to trial not yet released products. They’ll be working with shades and formulas that we might not see for six months to a year to come and that gives the brand live action testing and real genuine feedback too. This year, Francois Nars used new products like St-Paul-De-Vence Duo Eyeshadow at Rodarte, which won’t be released until Spring 2015. And I spotted this Maybelline foundation being used backstage at NYFW, which isn’t yet available in Europe, so it can be a really exciting space for new cosmetic spots.

model at mara hoffman, ss15, new york

6. What are the tissues in the hair all about?

If hair is done before makeup, which it often is, then it needs to be kept in place until showtime, but normal grips will mark the style. Hence; tissues, like we’re seeing here at Mara Hoffman’s recent NYFW SS15 show, protect hair from grip marks. Lots of stylists use playing cards for the same purpose.

model backstage at NYFW ss15

7. What do the models do while their hair and makeup’s being done?

This: Beauty, hair, nails are all work to a runway model as opposed to the pampering we’d see it as. They use the time to read, listen to music and catch up on the stuff we all catch up on online: Facebook; Buzzfeed; funny cat videos. You name it.

models backstage at rachel comey, NYFW ss15

When there’s downtime? It’s phone time.

model backstage at guiletta NYFW ss15

8. And here, tell me, why do I keep seeing this pose?

The nails held to the face thing is a common trope in backstage photography and it’s not about being cutesy: it’s actually so the entire beauty look from hair, makeup and nails can be showcased in one shot, like this super-sweet one from Guiletta, at NYFW, SS15.

dressing backstage at rodarte NYFW ss14

9. What happens post-makeup?

Models move to the dressing area, where all the looks they’ll wear, along with accessories and shoes are on rails or racks. This’ll have been decided well in advance, with rehearsals and fittings to make sure everything’s looking just as it should be.

touching up beauty at DKNY, NYFW ss15

10. Any other beauty bits happening at this stage?

You betcha. As the models line up to go out onto the runway, designated makeup artists will be watching for blemishes and bruises on arms and legs or any exposed skin, and giving them a quick cover, like this Maybelline makeup artist is doing at the recent NYFW SS15 DKNY show.

nanette lepore, NYFW ss15

Models might also need a lip top-up, shine control or liner fixing, like this gal at Nanette Lepore at NYFW SS15, and that’s done just before they walk, or while they make their lightning quick outfit changes as the show progresses.

models backstage at Suno

11. What happens then?

Lots and lots and lots of pictures. There’ll be shots backstage before they walk, like these ones from Suno’s SS15 NYFW show.

bank of photographers

Then the models have to contend with this: the bank of photographers, located at the end of the runway where they do their turn. Depending on the size of the show, there can be a few, or there can be bloody millions of them, all snapping, clicking and flashing right in the girls’ faces. Intimidating.

makeup artist at theory wearing google glass

They may even have had Google Glass in their faces while they’ve had their makeup done. Yikes.

vivienne westwood, LFW ss15

12. Is that why models always look so miserable? 

Not at all – look at these gals, backstage at Vivienne Westwood’s LFW SS15 show. Fun? Heck, I reckon so.

Did we get all your most puzzling fashion week-related wonderings? If not, drop a comment, and let us know!