What It’s Like to Be a Hair Stylist at Fashion Week

For a few minutes, as models strut down the runway in the season’s most glamorous creations, a fashion show becomes a scene of breathtaking perfection. But those who call Fashion Week work will tell you that the lead-up and aftermath can be chaotic, mundane, and downright absurd. We’ve asked industry pros, from a front-row photographer to a fashion house intern, exactly what the week is like for them.Here, celebrity hair stylist Frank Rizzieri of Fourteen Jay Salon details a day in his life during NYFW, where he created the hair looks backstage for the Tibi show. Come back all week for more insider perspectives.

Photo: Courtesy

Before the Day Begins

There is always a fitting or a “test” where the hairstylist and makeup artist listen to the inspiration for the collection. For Tibi this year, the collection was a celebration of their 20th anniversary, with the inspiration for the designs being based on '80s street photography. Once the inspiration is understood, the designer usually provides some direction for hair and makeup. For example, this show translated to something “cool” and undone, with each girl having her own individual look. It’s a collaboration that begins with many idea and allot of discussion.

The team is working through their ideas on fitting model as part of the process and keeps working until they find an idea that clicks. The idea was to keep the look "cool and modern"—still referencing the '80s street inspiration. For the styles, I dried the hair with my fingers using a Dyson dryer (similar here) and then picked up random pieces of hair and created a slight bend using the rSession tool Tidal Waver. The ends of the hair were kept straight. For product I used Aveda Texture Tonic sprayed through the hair to give it a cool, matte finish.

Backstage at Tibi 2
Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty

Early Morning Before the Show — Boxing

I like to work out in the morning before I do anything. It helps me get my head straight. Before the Tibi show, I boxed.

10 A.M. — Taking a Cab to Call Time

For Tibi, the call time was 10:30. I always arrive 15 minutes before the call time. This show was close to my apartment, so I took a cab.

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10:30 A.M. — Tibi Show Call Time

Call time is usually three hours before the show. I like to wear something very comfortable—usually black jeans and a black T-shirt. My kits (I always have more than one) contain absolutely everything because there is always a “just in case” moment. Really, I bring everything but the kitchen sink. My philosophy is it's better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.


10:30 A.M. - 2:00 P.M. — Styling the Hair for Tibi

My job becomes that of an orchestra leader. I do the first look so everyone can see the direction for the hair. Once the team understands the direction, I speak to the casting director so that I understand what girls might be coming in late, because I want to know where there may be a time crunch. From there, I oversee the team in the execution of the looks. I like to check each model before they are done and before they go to makeup. I like to make sure we give the other teams ample time to do their work, too.

Backstage at Tibi 3
Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty

2 P.M. — Tibi Show

After the Show

Usually, I am on my way to another show, meeting, trip, job, or catching a plane to go somewhere else. I typically don’t have time for the after-party!

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