What it's really like backstage at Hong Kong Fashion Week

What it's really like backstage at Hong Kong Fashion Week

When models hit the runway at Fashion Week around the world, everything looks perfect, but there's a lot of work that goes into it. Heidi Yeung goes backstage at Hong Kong Fashion Week to find out what it's like

I was invited by MAC Cosmetics to go backstage on January 19 for Hong Kong Fashion Week.

I expected that being backstage would be very hectic. But as I walked through the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre to the hair and make-up rooms, everything was very calm.

Models sat along one side of the hallway. They already had their hair and make-up done for the show, but they were wearing casual clothes.

They were eating from lunch boxes (no carrot or celery in sight) or reading their smartphones.

I walked into the biggest room and introduced myself to Ryuko Lau, MAC's first senior artist in Hong Kong. Lau was leading a team of 26 make-up artists to create four looks for 64 models that day.

"It's a huge show this year, so we've flown in make-up artists from around Asia-Pacific to help the Hong Kong MAC team," she says.

"All of our make-up artists usually work at one of our stores on a normal day, but we've pulled the absolute best to be a part of HKFW."

Lau says that preparations for HKFW started in September, when she got back from Milan and London Fashion Weeks.

"For me, the biggest challenge is bringing what I learned at International Fashion Week and translating that for the Hong Kong audience. And making sure it still works for the designers' collections."

With two hours left to go, people come and go from the room like a wave. Sometimes it was almost empty. But 30 seconds later it felt like every make-up artist, hairstylist, and model in Hong Kong was in the room with me. And actually, that may not have been far from the truth.

Lena Shynkaruk knows how to walk that walk.
 

"In Europe, there are a lot of girls so the competition is much higher, but here there aren't as many models," says runway model, Lena Shynkaruk.

Shynkaruk is from Ukraine and has modelled for 10 years. She was sent by her agency to Hong Kong six years ago, and is now settled here with her husband and their son.

Shynkaruk would have looked odd anywhere else, because each side of her face had different make-up looks on!

About 30 minutes before show time, the madness I was expecting began. Hair and make-up people worked on one model after another. When they were ready, Lau had to check them to make sure that everything looked perfect.

We all went to the area behind the runway. There were changing rooms set up behind a screen and a big space for getting ready. On the other side of that screen was the runway.

Make-up artists waited while the models changed.

The atmosphere was tense and excited.

One door opened and a model walked through in a metallic dress. Straight away, four make-up artists started putting last-minute touches on her face, hair, and body.

Every model - even the guys - needed some extra touches before going on the runway.

Soon, the backstage area was packed with people and the show coordinator started shouting instructions for everyone.

Once Fashion Extravaganza started, everything moved quickly.

One show followed another. While the models waited for their turn, they chatted, took selfies, or they found somewhere to sit.

I soon found out why: many of the girls were wearing shoes that were much too small for them.

But as soon as they hit the runway, they hid any sign of pain from their perfect faces. These girls were pros.

After the show ended, I went to look for Lau in the hair and make-up rooms to say goodbye.

The hallway where I saw models having lunch earlier was now filled with make-up artists and hairstylists talking about dinner plans.

I found Lau, and after a quick goodbye, I left the first day of HKFW, and Lau started planning for the other three days.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
What it's really like backstage

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