Runway etiquette 101: the good, the bad and the ugly

May 15, 2014

A fashion show can be an extremely visceral experience. Lights gleam off a white walkway, creating a feeling of lightness. A steady rhythm of “stomp, stomp, stomp” continues to music beats, as models walk past with glittering and silky fabrics flowing behind and around them. The excitement builds only to have everything come to a stop after a few minutes of a moving and wearable art performance.

Needless to say, sitting in the front row (or any row for that matter) at a fashion show can bring anyone to highs and lows.

This perfect little bubble, however, can sometimes be burst by annoying habits of other fashion patrons. After years of attending major fashion shows in Canada, the U.S., Italy and England, FAJO Magazine came up with a list of our pet peeves that can detract from the glamour on the runway.

  • Whisper to the person next to you. If you are talking louder than the runway music and are receiving death stares from those around you, there is a reason. People came to watch the show, not to hear how your date went last night.
  • No flash. You know those black spots you get with a really bright flash from a camera? Try walking down a runway in shoes that have massive heels in front of 100s of people, while being targeted by endless bursts of light. Blurred vision isn’t fun. We all want to take pictures, just remember to turn off your flash!
  • Legs tucked in. Sometimes the front row can be quite close to the runway. Not only will keeping your legs tucked under your chair help with the limited amount of space, your feet will also not make a special appearance in the photographers’ shots. No one wants to see a stray foot beside a beautiful design, no matter how fabulous the shoe.
Ideal scenario: a wide runway.

Ideal scenario: a wide runway. Anton Oparin /

  • Neutral face. No matter the level, no matter the taste, no matter the look: if something doesn’t fit your aesthetics or “float your boat,” keep your comments (and facial expressions) to yourself. You can always share your comments on social media, or in your article or blog.
  • Drinking = limited. Glamorous evenings can bring glamorous drinks. But no one wants to see you spilling your drink as you stumble to your seat. And almost getting sick at a fashion show is a YouTube video waiting to happen. Unless you want to become part of the next infamous “fail” compilations on Buzzfeed or NewsLinq, know your limit!
  • Remain calm. Sheer panels or lace, minimal clothing and exposed skin can happen on the runway. Take a breath and remember #4. The sheer material is part of the designer’s aesthetic and is (usually) a POW factor for the collection. Whooping when men walk down the runway in hot pants or when you see a nipple is not recommended.
  • Stay off the runway as much as you can. The white runway creates a great background for the fashion shots, helping the clothes stand out. Your shoe marks after you scuffed your heel on the runway two minutes before the show started, do not.
  • No leaning. Everyone wants to see the looks coming down the runway. The person beside you did not come to watch the back of your head; they came to watch a fashion show. So, lean back and enjoy.
  • Bags under your chair. Sitting in the front row, you might be part of some candid shots. Don’t hide your beautiful outfit; tuck that cute purse under the chair. You can always take a picture with it later.
  • Be polite. Everyone is here to have a good time and see the clothes. So, remember to smile and enjoy the show!

Our secret fashion insider this month is an accomplished fashion journalist, based in Canada.

Feature image credit: Perfect posture by Kim Kardashian, Kelly Rowland, Shenae Grimes, Rachel Bilson and other celebrities at the Jill Stuart, spring 2010, fashion show in New York. Everett Collection /

By FAJO's secret fashion insider

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