The Big Apple is buzzing with the arrival of New York Fashion Week, where American fashion takes center stage and talented designers can get their big break. What many of us don't take into account when we're scrolling through front row Instagram snaps and getting real-time updates with NYFW-tagged tweets is all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. The designers make fashion happen, but there's also publicists planning backstage and makeup artists getting models prepped for the runways and that's just the tip of the fashion iceberg.
Many of us have no clue what is even going on backstage, but Vivala got a glimpse into the jobs of the women working their magic behind and on the runway. From a top makeup artist working behind the scenes to an international shoe designer, we caught up with just a few of the Latinas that help make NYFW happen.
Cynthia Rivas, Senior Makeup Artist, MAC Cosmetics
How did you get into makeup artistry and working for MAC? I was going to school for Graphic Design and needed a part-time job and makeup came naturally to me. I'm from Hollywood and I had always been fascinated with drag queens and performers and how makeup could really bring out that alter ego that we all have. I'm shy and quiet by nature so I always admired how that transformation could bring out a different side of you. So, I decided it would be fun to get a job at MAC — I started at the Orange County, California location. Thirteen years later, and I've got the opportunity to work backstage in New York thanks to them. I've had the chance to work on music videos, T.V. shows, and pretty much do makeup in every capacity except movies.
Tell us about your first time working backstage. It was 2004, in Los Angeles when Mercedez Benz Fashion Week was around on the west coast. I started working New York Fashion Week in 2012. I will always remember my first fashion show — I was nervous and excited. I was expecting something really simple because its a classic look, but it ended up being a very dramatic smoky eye using MAC Dark Soul Pigment, which, if used incorrectly can get all over the place. I felt so comfortable and worked quickly so I ended up doing eight models, and usually we only work on two.
How do you handle the fast pace backstage? It's an adrenaline rush when you have five minutes to get a model ready because she's running in from a previous show. But you just have to breathe, stay calm and make it happen.
What's the best part about working behind the scenes? Working with a team of people that have your back. It's a fun experience!
Any post-NYFW plans or will you continue to work? It's different every season, but this season I will be going to Milan and Paris after New York this year. I haven't worked in London yet, but I hope to go soon.
Follow Cynthia on Instagram @cynth_pop
Karime Bribiesca, Model, Fusion Models
How did you get into the modeling? I started modeling 3 years ago when I was 16 in my hometown of Guadalajara. I moved to Mexico City to keep modeling and then I did three shows in New York last year, which was my first fashion week. I went back to Mexico for four months and then went back to New York for the Fall/Winter 2015 shows during the spring. I also went to Milan that time, and now I'm back in New York.
How hectic does your schedule get? Running around the city all day and not having time to rest get so tiring. It's non stop action.
What do you miss the most when you're working? The food from home! Tortas ahogadas and tacos al pastor.
What are you looking forward to this season? I can't wait for the Europe shows and then getting back home to Mexico to be with my family.
Follow Karime on Instagram @karymebribiesca
Danielle Alvarez, Senior Account Executive, Alison Brod Public Relations
How did you get into PR? When I was a teenager, I met someone who did PR and worked on P. Diddy's party one year when the VMAs came to my hometown (Miami). I was like "What job is this? This is so cool that you get to plan parties!" I did my research and decided I wanted to do PR or something event and celebrity-related. I went to University of Florida and did internships in New York City during the summers, which motivated me to move to the city after graduation. I moved without having a job (luckily I have family in New York), but used LinkedIn to search for fellow Gators. After two weeks, I connected with a fellow alum who was working at ABPR. At the time, they weren't hiring, but I was persistent and got hired as an intern. I was working with the L'Oreal team and tried really hard to make a good impression by coming in early, running errands, and doing my best. A month and a half later, I landed a job there and six months after that I was on a team handling the Hispanic account for L'Oreal. We now handle the Hispanic market for Urban Decay, Ralph Lauren Fragrances, and Cover Fx.
How do you prepare yourself for a busy week? I don't make any plans for the week! The days start at 7 am because of the early shows and we don't finish until the around 9 pm. There is a lot that goes into it and on top of that, we still have our regular work to keep up with.
What is New York Fashion Week like for you? Since I handle beauty brands, you can find me backstage where all the action is happening before the models hit the runway. When it comes to fashion week prep, I reach out to multicultural media outlets and bloggers that are covering fashion week and invite them backstage to the shows where the product from ABPR clients are being used.
What is your favorite part about fashion week? I love seeing the new trends for the next season. It's very hectic and busy, but I really enjoy the adrenaline rush.
Follow Danielle on Instagram @danialvarezpr
Andrea Gomez, Shoe Designer
How did that partnership come about? I have known and admired him for a long time and we have successfully collaborated on three collections and will be showing our fourth collaboration for Spring/Summer 16. It’s always a fun process to experiment with different ideas and come up with a unique design that not only will complement the collection but will also speak for itself.
What the most memorable part of Fashion Week? Being able to see my shoes on the runway, working with a great team, and the adrenaline of being part of such an amazing event makes all of my least favorite things — like the pressure, stress and drama prior to the show — worth it.
How did you break into the industry? I have always been inspired by fashion and how a design piece can speak for a person and communicate many things. So, I pursued Jewelry Design in Florence, Italy before moving to New York City where I studied Jewelry and Accessories Design at FIT. I graduated in 2009 and had the opportunity to work in the shoe department at DKNY. Afterwards, I felt the confidence and motivation to move back to my home country, Venezuela, and launch my own shoe brand in 2011. Today, Andrea Gomez has two stores in Caracas with a strong online presence and very soon online sales will be available in the US.
What are you looking forward to once fashion week wraps up? The next project. Finding new inspiration and starting the design process all over again is very exciting to me but I also look forward to receiving positive impact on the brand.
Follow Andrea Gomez on Instagram @ag_andreagomez